For the second straight year, Northern Cambria Middle School has produced a Technology Student Association national champion.
And for the second straight year, Northern Cambria High School students John Yahner and Caleb Born placed in the top 10 in the nation, as Garrett Link did likewise for the first time.
The 41st Technology Student Association national conference was held in Washington, D.C., from June 28 to July 2. More than 8,500 students competed from almost every U.S. state and two countries: Germany and Turkey. TSA has over a quarter of a million members.
Students in high school and middle school compete in 70 events from building a balsa wood structure, to programming robots, to giving presentations, writing children’s stories and debate.
The Northern Cambria Middle School students — Mikey Konitsky, Chris Yahner, Peyton Myers and Braden Moriconi — who were the state champions in the mechanical engineering competition, won the national championship in this event. For this competition, students had to design and build a Rube Goldberg Machine, a device that includes all six simple machines (lever, wheel and axle, inclined plane, screw, pulley, wedge) on each of the three subsystems. At the end it had to do something creative; theirs popped a balloon.
The students also had to create a portfolio explaining and demonstrating their research and ideas, including CAD drawings and a bill of materials. Once they arrived at nationals, their portfolio was judged and 12 semifinalist were announced. The team then did a presentation and interview for a panel of judges.
Caleb Born and John Yahner, who were national champions last year at the middle school level and national qualifiers from the state competition, competed in an event titled Structural Design & Engineering. They had to build a train trestle bridge made of balsa wood to strict specifications. The structures are weighed and destructively tested by adding weight to it until it breaks. Then the efficiency is calculated to determine the winners.
The boys competed against 86 structures others. Their pre-built structure held 217 pounds, which resulted in an efficiency of 4.8. This was enough to make it into the top 20. They then came back to build a new structure on site with different specifications in 2ﾽ hours. Their second structure was again tested and held 147 pounds, which resulted in an efficiency rating of 3.8. They placed third in the nation.
Garrett, who was the state champion in Flight Endurance, placed ninth in the nation at the TSA conference. This event requires a plane built to strict specifications that is powered by a rubber band. A portfolio accompanies the plane that includes technical attributes of the design, test flight log, an explanation of the flight log, a graphical flow chart of the building process and technical drawings of the aircraft. Garrett’s plane was built from balsa wood and carbon fiber to reduce weight while maintaining strength.
The craft was required to take off from the ground, fly in a circular path for the longest time aloft and land. He had two consistent flights of at least 2 minutes, reaching an altitude of 28 feet. He finished in the top and had the opportunity to interview. Garrett competed against 88 planes en route to a national place.
Northern Cambria had another successful year in TSA and advisers Ed Link and Matt Kline said they are proud of their chapter’s accomplishments. All students who made the trip achieved national status as a top 10 finalist.