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Ithaca Technology Student Association Wins Big at Regional Conference

TSA Students May 2018
(click on photo to enlarge)
Ithaca teams from DeWitt Middle School and Ithaca High School earned a combined 23 first-place finishes and 4 podium sweeps at the 40th annual Connecticut Technology Student Association (TSA) Conference in West Hartford. Hundreds of participants and 22 schools represented Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island at the conference.

The conference offered 22 high school competitive events and 21 middle school events ranging from robotics to extemporaneous speech to CO2-propelled dragster design.

Eli Zhang of Ithaca High School (IHS) brought home five first-place trophies, taking first place with a small group in the team events: On-Demand Video, Biotechnology Design, Children’s Stories, and Music Production, and as an individual in the Prepared Presentation competitive event.

Many students, judges, and advisors also flocked to IHS’s Children’s Stories submission, which included meticulously hand-drawn illustrations, sound, and lighting during open event viewing. The book, titled Eiji and the Kingfisher, described the streamlining of Japan’s bullet train based on the anatomy of a kingfisher. As readers flipped from page to page, kingfisher calls, rumbling of trains, and gusts of air filled the room. Moreover, the team wired nearly each page with custom LED lights and circuits to illuminate illustrations—the headlights of the train or lamps in a room—to add to the beauty and craftsmanship of the children’s book.

IHS junior Kasia Fadeeva also produced one of the most widely lauded submissions of the conference, with her balsa wood airplane in the Flight Endurance competition, called the “most well-constructed plane with the strongest sketches and flight logs of the event” by the event judge. The plane, which stayed in the air for 1 minute and 24 seconds, used rubber band tension to stay aloft. Each component of the plane was cut on the high school’s laser cutter and assembled by hand.

At the middle school level, DeWitt students swept the Structural Engineering and CAD (computer-aided design) Foundations competitive events. In Structural Engineering, students build bridges from balsa wood and compete to see whose bridge can withstand the most force before failure. In CAD Foundations, students model a selected object in Autodesk Inventor software, paying close detail to dimensions and style.

The state conference also marked the debut of new DeWitt technology teacher Nathan Taylor in TSA, as well as the first out of many state conferences for a score of DeWitt and IHS TSA members. In addition to Taylor, teachers Scott Breigle, Karen Kiechle, David Buchner, and New York State TSA state advisor Evie Weinstein rose at 3:00 in the morning to chaperone students to the conference. “I think we often take for granted how much time our advisors put in for us. We couldn’t do this without them,” said IHS junior Andrei Tumbar. Throughout the year, these TSA advisors have been invaluable in helping student-led projects succeed, holding weekly after-hours work sessions that run late into the evening.

The teams’ participation in the state competition was made possible by support from the Ithaca City School District, as well as fundraising campaigns organized by the teams and IthacaSTEM Advocates, an affiliate of the Ithaca Public Education Initiative. The teams are now raising funds for this year’s 40th annual national TSA conference in Atlanta, Georgia in June. To learn more about TSA visit, a website designed and coded by IHS’s award-winning Webmaster team.
Ithaca TSA’s trip to the national conference is graciously subsidized by the Ithaca City School District and community donors. However, TSA families still pay many hundreds of dollars to travel to the conference. In addition, Ithaca TSA teams refuse to make economic status a barrier to participation. To make a tax-deductible donation to the crowdfunding page, visit

Belle Sherman
Beverly J Martin
Cayuga Heights
Fall Creek
South Hill
Boynton Middle
DeWitt Middle
Ithaca HS
Lehman Alternative


Ithaca City School District
Dr. Luvelle Brown, Superintendent
400 Lake Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
(607) 274-2101