Editorial: TSA Experience

Arwa Ouali


Entering New Jersey’s TSA (Technology Student Association) competition which is in partnership with TCNJ and available to middle schools and high schools across New Jersey has provided me with an incredible experience to experiment with various aspects of STEM and design to identify my strengths and what I would wish to pursue in college. NJ TSA is an organization whose mission is to “enhance personal development, leadership, and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), whereby members apply and integrate these competitions through intracurricular activities, competitions, and related programs. “

Since November of this year, I have been preparing my entries, researching solutions, but most importantly I became confident in my work and learned to better manage my time between school and extracurricular activities.

I first joined TSA and its competition sophomore year during the first full virtual year. That year I entered the children’s book project and it would be an understatement to say that. I spent over 20 hours working on the children’s book to not only create content that a young child would enjoy but also was tested by an elementary school’s 3rd grade students to determine how my digital book was received.

This year, I was more ambiguous and wanted to tackle more than one activity. After skimming through the list, I felt most interested in entering Biotechnology Design to prepare myself with facing difficult situations that could lead to disastrous effects to the environment, CAD (computer aided design) Engineering as I have extensively practiced with CAD last summer and wanted to put my skills to the test, and promotional design to develop my skills with graphic design. I brainstormed for hours doing research on cyanobacteria, sharpening my editing skills, and imaging graphics that I felt best encompassed TSA and its tenets.

While I didn’t place in the top three, I am greatly appreciative of the opportunity and can not wait to enter next year’s competition for the new challenges. For the Biotechnology competition, I placed 7th out of the 17th schools and was the one of the only solo teams. For the CAD Engineering competition, I placed 18th out of the 27th schools and 16th out of the 17th schools for Promotional Design. Through the competitions that normally have over 200,000 New Jersey middle and high school students participating, I feel a sense of accomplishment knowing that as the only student at Kearny High School that entered this year, I scored pretty well in all the years Kearny students have participated. 

While this competition does require grit and a passion great enough to dedicate out of school hours to it, the process is just as significant as the pleasure that comes back when you can sit back, scroll through your work, and feel proud that you are ready to submit it. Next year my goal is to place in the top three for at least one of the competitions I enter.

Attached are some portions of the entries I submitted which includes a one-wheel skateboard, a presentation and portfolio created on how to address the rise in cyanobacteria blooms, and promotional design for TSA.