Andrew Bauer, a junior at Richland High School, has fond memories of competing in the Pennsylvania Technology Student Association competition.
Those are some of his favorite moments in his life, and he’s excited to return to the contest this year, even though it’ll be held virtually.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Bauer said.
He is one of more than 30 students from the high school who are competing in the state contest.
Bauer’s chapter is part of Region 8, and Richland is one of seven local school districts that advanced to the next level of competition this year.
The Technology Student Association is an organization that provides students with a chance to display their skills and understanding of current technologies.
It also helps them develop attributes such as leadership, respect and motivation, according to www.patsa.org.
Bauer’s been involved in the group since eighth grade and took a national title with his friend and schoolmate Caden Milne in their ninth-grade year.
During this year’s regional competition, the pair took four first-place wins, and Bauer landed another victory on his own.
He competed by himself in the extemporaneous speech challenge and with Milne in debating technological issues, data science, analytics and software development.
Both students are looking forward to the challenge at the next level, which has various segments throughout the end of March and into the first few weeks of April.
The two will compete in similar competitions to the regional contest, but with more rules and requirements, Bauer said.
They’ve also added a Pennsylvania-only event that had them create a phone for the visually impaired.
A small computer called a Raspberry Pi was used for the base component, Milne said.
It was coded with the computer language Python and can cycle contacts and make or decline calls, all using audible commands and an internet connection.
“We’ve had some problems along the way,” Bauer said, “but we’ve got it ironed out.”
Milne is confident he and Bauer have a chance of doing just as well at states as they did at regionals.
“All of our events stack up pretty well to what we’ve seen prior,” he said. “I think we stand a real chance to win some more national championships.”
The students’ adviser, Jason Beach, who oversees the older TSA chapter at Richland, is proud of the boys’ efforts.
“They did a really, really nice project with a great concept,” he said about the cellphone.
Beach has been in charge of the elder group of students for the past eight years and has seen how well Bauer and Milne cooperate.
“They have a very unique set of skills that they apply very, very well,” he said. “They compliment each other.”
Milne’s strong attributes are dealing with computers and programing, while Bauer excels at public speaking, Beach said.
Another component that’s driving the students is the fact that last year’s competition was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They had qualified for states then as well.
Milne sees the upcoming match as a redemption opportunity.
“I’m really excited to go to states this year, especially because we missed it last year,” he said.
Beach noted that it’s hard to tell how everything will shake out due to the teams not being able to see each other, but he has confidence in his students and is hopeful.
For more information about TSA and a full schedule of the state competition, visit www.patsa.org.