TSA Journey

Have you ever put your heart into something and have it fail in the end? It’s a very negative feeling, having something that you’re so passionate about squashed in front of you. This occurred to me over the course of my last two years of high school. It was a useful learning experience, however, as I was able to understand to appreciate the journey rather than the destination. 

               The Technology Student Association (TSA) club was founded during my sophomore year of high school. The teacher who sponsored the club was Mr. L, who had been my teacher in multiple classes such as math and computer science. He had similar interests as me, as he was also the chess coach and favored math and computer science. The TSA competition, which the club prepared the team for, was around March every year, and the club was created around May, so it was postponed into the next school year. 

               When early January came around and the parts were in, it felt like we were just starting out again. The concept worked but translating that to metal sheets was not ideal. For months every Tuesday and Thursday after school, which eventually turned into Monday through Friday, we built and destroyed robots trying to make the concept a reality. The same cycle occurred time and time again, as we would come up with an idea, spend hours trying to make it work, and ending up back at the drawing board. Eventually, around the beginning of March, and very close to the day of the event, we had a functional robot.  However, something had broken on the bus ride over to the competition, and there was not enough time to troubleshoot and fix it, so when it went in to compete, it eventually just stopped moving. The ride back was full of disappointment, but it had been our first year, and there was still the next year to try again. 

               The next year wouldn’t be anything that any of us would have expected. For most of the time leading up to the competition, we were just having fun instead of working on the robot. The final product, “Big Data v2,” which was produced mainly by one of the members spending hours of lunch periods and extra periods working on it, was nowhere near as well thought out as the first version. The competition this year involved having to pick up a ball and launch it. At the competition, it somehow managed to last through the first round a barely clawed its way up to the pedestal it needed to finish on. There was not much life in it after the first round, and the frantic patch jobs were futile in the end, as the robot had reached the end of its lifetime. 

               The experience of just enjoying the club rather than viciously trying to be the best team impacted me greatly. It showed to me that it is not always about what happens in the end, the ride along the way is what you will remember the most. This is exactly what happened at the coding competition, I didn’t care about the results of the competition, but the time I had while competing in was one of my favorite memories from high school. Sometimes it is good to let go and have fun, if of course the results don’t end up negatively impacting your life. 

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