ITHACA, N.Y.—Students from DeWitt Middle School and Ithaca High School took a trip down to Dallas, Texas late last month to test their mettle against some of the world’s best young technological minds at the Technology Student Association National Conference.

Participating for the first time in three years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 25 local students faced others from around the country and even the world. Despite that stiff competition, the students made out exceptionally well, garnering a slew of top finishes (the full list of winners can be found at the bottom of this article). First place finishers included Kisbeka Janosi and Luke Hwang.

In total 17 kids from DeWitt Middle School and eight students from Ithaca High School participated in a wide range of events. Students worked on long-term projects throughout the school year

DeWitt Middle School teacher David Buchner helped lead the trip, expressing how grateful he and the team were to have another opportunity to participate.

DeWitt student Imri Wolf had one of the more interesting experiences at the contest. In the Computer Aided Design competition, Wolf was unable to login to the necessary platform for most of the two hours of allotted time. Eventually, Wolf had to call on Buchner to bring his personal computer to the venue.

At that point, Wolf only had a fraction of the total time left. He submitted his project without many expectations, then got a surprise: despite the challenges, he finished in fourth place.

“I knew exactly what I wanted to do,” Wolf said. “But with that amount of time, I knew that I was going to be in trouble […] I practiced so much in the weeks before that.”

The practice kicked in and Wolf was able to bring DeWitt its second top four finisher in the contest, along with winner Kisbeka Janosi.

The full list of winners, from student reporter Jamie Pritchard:

Computer Aided Design (CAD) first place, Kisbeka Janosi and fourth place, Imri Wolf. Coding third place, Elijah Kelly and Jamie Prichard. Essays on Technology first place, Luke Hwang. Junior Solar Sprint fourth place, Ada Iyer, Jeffery Zhao, Imri Wolf, and Haruto Yagi. Mass Production third place, Elijah Kelly, Henry Schneider, Tyler Stuglis, and Rohan Gupta. Vex Iq Challenge third place Luke Hwang, Tyler Stuglis, Jamie Pritchard, Bohan Zhu, and Griffin Gold-Rodgers.

In high school, Jennifer Zhao in CAD engineering design placed sixth place.

The TSA is a non-profit organization with the goal of learning to lead in a technical world. In TSA students learn technical skills like Computer Aided Design (CAD), Coding, or engineering through hands-on activities. They also build team working skills that will be very helpful later on in school and future jobs.

17 students of the DeWitt Middle School TSA and 8 of the Ithaca High School TSA flew to Dallas, Texas from June 26-June 30. They competed in a range of events including  biotechnology, building robots, writing children’s stories, and video game design. The students worked throughout the academic year on their projects during after school hours as well as fundraising to offset the costs of the trip. Dewitt middle school has been doing TSA for over 25 years and will continue for who knows how long.

One story from TSA nationals is of Imri Wolf overcoming challenges.  Imri was heading to the CAD engineering Middle School finals, but when he tried to login to his CAD platform account it wouldn’t work. He eventually had to call the Dewitt TSA advisor Mr. Buchner to bring his personal computer, but by the time he got logged in, he only had 25 minutes to make the part. Imri later said “ It was an easy shape overall, but it needed more time.” So after that happened, he was pretty shocked to learn he got fourth in the finals.

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Managing Editor at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com