TSA’s State Leadership Conference: More Than Just Competition


Kimberly Poinsette

Juniors Dominic Mandato and Kimberly Poinsette having fun at last year's conference.

Abdul Sayed, Reporter

The school’s Technological Student Association (TSA)  plans to attend its seventh State Leadership Conference Thursday in the Classics Center in Athens where students all over Georgia test their skills against one another in competitive events.

TSA strives to help students develop skills in science, technology, engineering, math (STEM), business and leadership. Its annual State Leadership Conference facilitates that.

At the State Leadership Conference, a few select students are voted and elected for State Officer Candidates, but for most students, the competitions are what they came for.

The competitions students participate in are mostly STEM in nature- Digital Video Production, Engineering Design and Architectural Design, just to name a few.

These competitions, however, are different in nature. They range from preprepared group projects to on-sight solo challenges. To add on to the variety, each competition has different dress codes that can be a determining factor in getting a medal.

But while the competitions all have different requirements, those competing all have one thing in common: they all spend countless hours honing their skills or preparing their projects in hopes to exceed the competition’s requirements and to receive a medal or possibly come home with gold.

“Our motto is ‘Learning to lead in a technical world’,” said Dominic Mandato, a junior and the vice president of TSA.

Despite the challenges students face at the State Leadership Conference’s competitions to facilitate this goal, it isn’t strictly competition; some students look forward to the social and exploration aspect of the trip the most.

Because schools around the state participate in these competitions and because they often last for only one to two hours, the conference creates a unique opportunity to meet new people that have similar interests.

“I enjoy meeting people with a similar passion as me,” said Archit Ballari, a junior competing in Video Game Design and Digital Video Production.

Some of that downtime allows competitors to also explore downtown Athens and the University of Georgia campus, giving them a lot of freedom.

Faizan Khan, a junior and competitor, said “I really enjoy any independence we get when we leave the center and go to downtown Athens.”

Some TSA students also enjoy the time in the hotel and in the Classics Center in between events and competitions.

“I feel like the time between the conference and the results where we all are hanging out is the best part,” said Mandato.

To other students like Mandato, the State Leadership Conference is a lot more than the competitions and elections.

While competitions are tough and not everyone goes home with a medal, the conference is still a cherished memory for the students.

“It doesn’t matter what you did in the competitions – lose or win – we just had fun,” said Mandato.