TSA students place in the top five at state


Whether it’s learning to design a robot, develop software, or participate in cyber security, the Technology Student Association (TSA) offers many opportunities that will expand knowledge and skills regarding technology and engineering. Prior to spring break, several students came away having placed in the top five at the TSA state competition. David Canaday and Tyler Captain placed second in cybersecurity, Canaday and Luke Miga placed third in coding, and Timmy Luu placed fifth in the rat trap drag race.

Although fewer students were able to compete due to COVID-19 restrictions, 18 out of the 40-50 students in TSA at HR went to state. There are 64 different competitions in the high school realm students are able to compete in, including a district competition against six other schools around the metro area that is preliminary to state. Despite the fact that there was no district level competition this year, students still got the chance to participate in state, albeit a fully virtual competition. 

“They are the top-notch kids in the entire country with computer science and programming,” said Justin Kast, engineering teacher and TSA adviser. 

Kast, who has been the TSA adviser for four years, supported these students and provided them with the logistical information, as the majority of their work had to be done from home. 

“I was pretty proud. This is what I want to do for the rest of my career, so I have some validation that I’m actually good at it,” said Luke Miga, senior.

“They are the top-notch kids in the entire country with computer science and programming”

Justin Kast

The dynamic of state depended on the event, as some were on site and students were given challenges and a certain time limit to do them, while other events were sent out beforehand. Coding and cyber security were both synchronous events, whereas in an event such as robotic design, students created their robot and sent in their portfolio prior to the competition.

Certain classes, in addition to hobbies, were helpful when preparing for state. David Canaday, junior, has taken cyber security and civil engineering classes that connect well with his projects in TSA and were useful to his success at state.

“It felt like a good accomplishment because Ranch doesn’t have a lot of sports where we do super well compared to other schools in our state,” said Canaday. Miga also pursues hobbies that include coding and hacking outside of school.

Infographic by Delaney Atchison

Additionally, many of these students hope to use the skills they have learned in this extracurricular engineering club in their future. Miga plans to go into computer science in college and is hoping to pursue white hat hacking as a potential career pathway, utilizing these skills he picked up in TSA. 

“You might be hired by a company to act as though you’re a malicious actor, and report back to them on any security flaws in their system. Essentially, it’s to find all the vulnerabilities before the bad guys do,” said Miga.

The club itself also offers immense social interaction and teamwork, as many of the projects and events are team based. “I like the social part of it because these days it’s kind of hard to see my friends, but they share a lot of the interests that I do in computer science and robotics,” said Miga.

TSA is open to any student looking to join, rather than just engineering students. Loric Seba, senior, who competed in and placed second at state last year as a part of the catapult team, said, “It’s a great group. There are so many activities, you can find something that you love doing.”

Last year, students Jason Koch, Miga, Canaday, and Captain placed second in robotic design at the TSA district competition. “We get to have some fun and also participate in some of our favorite hobbies,” said Miga. Photo courtesy of Justin Kast

Delaney Atchison, Editor in Chief