Sussex Academy students test a project during the problem solving competition at the 2018 Delaware Technology Student Association Conference

Sussex Academy students test a project during the problem solving competition at the 2018 Delaware Technology Student Association Conference

Middle and high school students throughout Delaware converged on the State Fairgrounds to compete in the 40th Delaware Technology Student Association State Conference Wednesday.

Homemade drag-racing cars, rockets, and magnetic levitation devices were all over two exhibit halls, with competitors going after a coveted blue ribbon.

Not all of the events involved building, as there were competitions in video game design, web-site production, and the final event of the day, a "Tech Bowl" quiz featuring three middle and high schools.

MOT Charter senior Tyler Rouwhorst serves as a state officer, and said competitors learn useful life skills through TSA.

"The main object of these events, is not only to compete and have fun, but also to connect to a career. Take for example dragster, if I were to compete in dragster, I would have an entire portfolio section that would link that to NASCAR engineering. And then I would link making a dragster car in TSA competition, to my future skills."

Top finishers in the state competitions over Wednesday and Thursday's events earn the chance to go to the national TSA competition in Atlanta in June.

Rouwhorst, who spoke to the competitors during the opening day's closing awards assembly, said that some of the lessons he's learned include things you might not expect from a science competition, like the ability to speak in front of a crowd of hundreds, or thousands, of people.

"You have all of these different things that help students gather their skills together, and compete, so that they can build stronger when they go into a career field."

TSA's final day of competition on Thursday will feature wooden bridge building, but also prepared and extemporaneous speech events.