Anna Brock, Rimika Banerjee, advisor Tyler Crawford and Haaris Patel with trophy
Anna Brock, Rimika Banerjee, advisor Tyler Crawford and Haaris Patel with trophy
Madison Middle School students Anna Brock, Haaris Patel and Rimika Banerjee placed first at the National Technology Student Association Competition in Washington, D.C., earlier this month. The three students earned their school's first-year TSA Club a national title by taking the gold in the Geospatial Technology category.

"We competed at a district-level and a state-level event before we went to the National Convention in Washington, D.C.," said club advisor and technology teacher Tyler Crawford. "We took 27 kids with us to the competition, and we competed in 10 to 15 different events."

Team leader and rising freshman Rimika Banerjee explained, "Our category was Geospatial Technology. This is our first year, and this is a new event." She, Patel and Brock had to work together to use mapping software in order to solve an assigned problem.

"They really put a lot of work into it," Crawford said. "They've been working on this project about six months to a year now, so it was a long process."

One problem forced the middle school students to map out potential earthquake fault lines, locate emergency and utility services and find areas most likely to be affected.
"We were much more overzealous than some of our competitors," said Crawford. "I think we had a 30-page binder."

According to Crawford, the software used in national technology competitions is the same as that used by college engineering programs.

"I had a friend that went through the engineering program at Ole Miss, and they taught them the software during freshman or sophomore years," he said.

"It was kind of difficult at first," admitted Banerjee. Using software tutorial books, she and her teammates taught themselves how to use the fairly complicated program. "We had help available if we needed," she said. "But it was challenging in a good way."

"Our on-site problem was that we had to create a proposal for a state part in New York, using mapping software," explained Banerjee. They were given two hours to develop a comprehensive solution before completing an interview and presentation.

In order to attend the competition from June 26 to July 1, Madison Middle's TSA Club leaders and members went out into the community to raise funds and apply for grants.

"We had some parents that work for local businesses that were able to raise money, and we worked with Levi's to do some community service," said Crawford. "We tried really hard to make the cost for the students as low as possible."
"I felt pretty amazing," Banerjee said. She stressed, "It's not just about winning; it's a great experience overall. I think my teammates would say the same."

She, Brock and Patel are the first TSA group from Madison County to place first at the national level. Each member of the team plans to continue working with the TSA Club during the upcoming school year.