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TSA TEAMSEngineering the Future
Edit by. Sparky Yoo | Published. 2017.06.26 14:57 | Count : 409
In early March, members of Andover’s STEM society participated in TEAMS, a national competition focused on applied engineering. The competition is run annually by the Technology Student Association (TSA), a non-profit organization run by students involved in areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. In their official website, TSA states that the purpose of the competition is to give students “an opportunity to discover engineering and how knowledge in engineering can help make a difference in the world.”
TSA TEAMS Logo (http://teams.tsaweb.org/)

This year, the theme of the competition was “Engineering the Environment.” Specific topics covered in the competition included geothermal energy, water treatment, global climate change, and a plethora of other topics. In general, the challenge prompted students to critically view environmental problems and to consider the role of engineering as solutions to such issues.
The competition consisted of three parts: the essay portion, the multiple-choice section, and the design challenge. We had to get into groups of 4-8 students. Our club divided into two teams: Team A and Team B. In the essay portion, contestants addressed the issue of the United States’ reliance on fossil fuels. They were expected to focus on one source of existing renewable energy to replace fossil fuels. In the essay, contestants addressed ways to improve the efficiency of that renewable source and estimate the cost. Our group wrote about converting train vibrations from subways in Massachusetts into electrical energy. Within our proposal, we addressed hypothetical situations where we could reuse energy that would otherwise go to waste. 

Depiction of sources of renewable energy (http://www.investmauritius.com/investment-opportunities/energy.aspx)

In the multiple-choice section, contestants had to apply pre-existing mathematical and scientific knowledge to current environment issues. The 80 multiple choice questions addressed topics such as wind power. For each set of questions, students would be provided with a short article about that specific topic. Then, the following questions would involve mathematical computations as well as applications of chemistry, physics, and biology.
The final portion was the design challenge. This year, contestants had to build a robotic arm to lift a water bottle onto a target. Teams were evaluated based on time, accuracy, and cost-efficiency. The given materials included cardboard, paper clips, pencils, rubber bands, and a few other crafting supplies. During this section of the competition, the students’ engineering skills were put to the test. Our team created an arm with a rudimentary grip that we could tighten around the water bottle through rubber bands.

Andover Team B Building Robot Arm During Design Challenge
Overall, the competition was an interactive way for STEM students to further explore the field of engineering. On one level, competing against other students added a degree of excitement to engineering. Andrew Kim ’18 said, “As a member of the Andover B team, I felt a lot of competition and rivalry toward the Andover A team especially during the design portion. That prompted me to try my best and create the most innovative device so that my team could get a better record than the other Andover team.” On the other level, participating in TSA TEAMS introduced students about ongoing ecological issues. The competition provided students with the opportunity to step outside the school setting and to truly contemplate the role of engineering within our society and applications of it in the real world.
Andover Team B Moving Water Bottle During Design Challenge

If other schools in the United States wish to be involved with this program next year, they should visit the TSA TEAMS website. The competitions can be conveniently held in local colleges, secondary host sites, and on-site.


Sparky Yoo 
Phillips Academy (Andover)

Sparky Yoo  student_reporter@dherald.com

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