- July 11, 2022
When Adam Nowicki, a technology teacher at Mona Jain Middle School, started the school year with the Technology Student Association club, he had no idea what was coming.
Nowicki said he expected a small turnout because the school is in its inaugural year.
Instead, about 50 students joined the club, and after months of practicing and building, Mona Jain’s TSA club placed fourth overall at the 42nd Technology Student Association State Conference at the Double Tree hotel Feb. 26-29 in Orlando.
“I’ve been blessed with some amazing students with just brilliance, an incredible work ethic, and being professional,” Nowicki said. “You don’t know how you’re going to fare when you go up there, but we did our best, and luckily for us, our best is fourth in the state, which is huge.”
Of the 33 students who participated at the state conference, 27 had no previous TSA experience.
When the school year started, Evan Fisher, an eighth grader, wasn’t sure how TSA would be at the new school. He has been in TSA since he was in sixth grade and came from Carlos E. Haile Middle School.
“I was kind of worried,” he said. “I know TSA isn’t going to be like it always has been. I know we’re going to be behind a little bit, and I did not think we’re going to do as well as we did. We got lucky with the people we have this year. They’re all amazing, and they all work hard.”
As a more experienced member of the club, Fisher had to teach the new members about the different events and projects.
Of the 38 categories at the state conference, Mona Jain students entered in 34 and placed in the top 10 in 28 of them. Students placed first in three categories, second in three categories and third in one category.
“It was exhilarating,” Nowicki said. “We went there, and we had no expectations. We thought we’d do OK for ourselves, and we kept reminding ourselves, ‘Don’t have these huge expectations in our first year,’ especially when we saw some of the other projects.”
Twenty-five to 30 students will be competing at nationals June 27 to July 1 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn.
Mason Engelsberg, a seventh grader in his first year of TSA, said he enjoyed getting to know competitors from different schools and seeing what students came up for the various events.
Engelsberg partnered with eighth grader Laila Ward to compete in the Challenging Technology Issues event in which they debated the pros and cons of genetic engineering and of synthetic meat, whether young kids should have smartphones andwhether online studying is better than traditional studying.
“The most heart-stopping moment, though, was when they called our names up for first place,” Engelsberg said. “We were just so happy.”
He said that placing first in one event and in the top 10 in two others as well as being part of a team that placed fourth overall in state was amazing.
“It is such a good feeling, especially because I’ve seen what other schools have done and how long they’ve been competing and how long they’ve worked on their stuff,” Engelsberg said. “Just to beat them out and coming fourth in the whole state is an amazing feeling.”