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2018–2019 Competitive Event Themes and Problems

The theme for the 2019 National TSA Conference at National Harbor near Washington, D.C. is "Model the Way".


Career Prep
Participants are to select a career from one (1) of the following career clusters:

  • Health Science
  • Information Technology
  • Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
  • Transportation, Distribution & Logistics

Challenging Technological Issues

  • A U.S. space force
  • 3D printed homes in a third world country
  • Online textbooks for all classes
  • U.S. tariffs on imports

Children's Stories
Theme: Tactile STEM Book
Design a tactile picture book that explains a STEM concept of your choice for children with a disability.

To prepare for MS Coding competition, teams should have knowledge of concepts (software development, computer science, and coding topics) that will be on the Coding written test. They also should be familiar and comfortable with using the Scratch programming language.

Scratch is a free visual programming language available from the MIT Media Lab ( An offline version of the Scratch tool should be downloaded and available on each team’s laptop. 

Teams that advance to the semifinalist level, based on written test performance, will perform a challenge using the Scratch programming language. Semifinalist teams will receive the challenge on site and will have two hours to complete it. (PLEASE NOTE: Semifinalist teams MUST have a version of this program available for offline use, as there will be no Internet access available during the semifinalist level of the competition.)

Examples of the types of challenges students may be asked to complete can be found at this link:

Digital Photography
Theme: "Landscape of Seasons"

There are no special specifications or theme for 2019. Refer to the event’s regulations and procedures for all specifications.

Essays on Technology
Pollution is defined as the contamination of soil, water and/or the atmosphere with man-made waste. The struggle to control pollution has been on-going; however, increased modern conveniences have contributed significantly to our society’s battle to fight pollution.  Discuss the ways in which modern conveniences have had a negative impact on pollution.  Consider past and current efforts, as well as possible future solutions to control pollution as they relate to each of the following sub topic.

  • Air
  • Land
  • Water

Mass Production
A desktop novelty item.
(Something that serves no purpose other than to ‘entertain’ a visitor to a person’s workspace. No electronic parts are permitted.)

Microcontroller Design
Theme: "Smart Home Device"

Off the Grid
Design a home for a family of four (4) and two (2) architecturally integrated food sources.

Prepared Speech
Theme: Model the Way

Promotional Marketing
TSA Marketing Tool Kit
1. Printable : a banner 96"x 48" advertising a fundraiser for a new 3D printer and materials for the chapter to use for conferences
2. Wearable: a 1" lanyard for chapter members to wear at conferences
3. Digital Signage: The local school board has approved the beginning of a new TSA chapter at a new middle school in your county. Your chapter is going to assist them in getting started. The board has given your chapter 10 minutes to speak at the next board meeting.  The advisor has required that you show the digital advertisement that will play in the lobby of the new school announcing the first meeting of this year. 

STEM Animation
Artificial intelligence (AI) is the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence and cognitive functions. These functions may include, but are not limited to: learning, decision-making, problem-solving, speech recognition, translation between languages, and visual acuity.
AI is typically defined as the study of "intelligent agents," which are devices that perceive their environment and take actions to maximize their achievement. AI has the potential to impact humanity in a multitude of ways and is both fascinating and complicated. AI has the possibility of affecting countless lives. Create a STEM animation that demonstrates what AI is and could be.

Structural Engineering
Please click here for the problem statement. 
MS Structural Engineering Analysis and Assessment Form
MS Structural Engineering Verification form

Video Game Design
Link to the submission form:, due by 11:59 PM EST on May 15th.

Website Design
Click here for the design brief. Due by 11:59 PM EST on May 15th.  



3D Animation
Click here for the design brief.
Link to the submission form:, due by 11:59 PM EST on May 15th. 

Create an Animatronic exhibit for a natural history museum.

Architectural Design
Click here for the design problem.
Link to the submission form:, due by 11:59 PM EST on May 15th.

Biotechnology Design
Theme: Marine Biotechnology

Children’s Stories
Multi-Modal Picture Book: Design a book with tactile and auditory features that enrich the storybook experience for children ages 4-7 who have a disability.

Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM)
Theme: A STEM-themed toy that will showcase the current conference city and/or state.

Debating Technological Issues
Topic: Social Media

  • Subtopic 1
    Resolved: Social media companies are obligated to address the deliberate spread of misinformation (aka Fake News).
  • Subtopic 2
    Resolved: The transactional nature of social media (up votes/down votes) has a negative impact on society at large. 
  • Subtopic 3
    Resolved: Social media companies must be held criminally liable for the illegal activities that their users plan or execute on their platforms.

Digital Video Production
Theme: A Mockumentary
A mockumentary or mock documentary is a genre of film, a parody that takes the form of a serious documentary on a chosen subject.

Dragster Design
For 2019 ONLY: The dragster body must include at least one (1) wing, spoiler, fin or splitter as part of the finished product. It must be part of the one-piece body, not an add-on or additional piece, and must stay within all other regulated specifications as outlined in the event regulations

Engineering Design
Theme: Practical and Cost Effective Uses for Solar Energy In and Around a Home

Fashion Design and Technology
Theme: CosPlay

Cosplay is the practice of dressing up as a character from a movie, book, or video game, especially one from the Japanese genres of manga and anime. Each team should design and create from scratch three (3) garments to fit the cosplay theme. Garments can be based on characters, movies, comics, and books but cannot contain copyrighted logos or images without written permission. 

Photographic Technology
This year participants have the opportunity to show their photography skills working with different lighting conditions.  Participants must create a portfolio featuring five (5) pictures. Please note that picture #1 must contain people and/or animals.  All other pictures may or may not have people or animals in them. Make sure to read the event rules for further directions.

  • Picture #1:  Color picture that must contain a person or people and/or an animal(s) taken in bright afternoon sunlight (between 11 AM and 2 PM).  In the photo’s description, state the time that the picture was taken.
  • Picture #2:  Color picture taken outside during sunrise or sunset
  • Picture #3:  Black and white picture working with fluorescent lighting
  • Picture #4:  Black and white picture taken using candlelight
  • Picture #5:  Student choice as to whether it is color or black and white
    Options for the light source:
    • Moonlight
    • Starlight
    • Nighlight
    • Spotlight
    • Flashlight

Structural Design and Engineering
Please click HS Structural Design and Engineering for the problem statement. 

Transportation Modeling
Theme: Maglev City People Mover (for inner city point-to-point movement)

Video Game Design
Theme is:  Role Playing Game that is TSA focused.
Please click here for more information about TSA focused.
Link to the submission form:, due by 11:59 PM EST on May 15th.  

Please click here for the design brief. Due by 11:59 PM EST on May 15th.