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Sylvester Ngoma
Technology Education Teacher, USA.

July 2005

In a world that is increasingly dependent on technology, it is crucial that technology education features prominently in any curriculum that intends to foster technological literacy. In response to the increasing demands of a technical environment, a technology organization named Technology Student Association (TSA) was founded in 1958 to prepare students for a career-technical workplace and/or highly skilled vocational and technical education programs.

Indeed, Standards for Technological Literacy provides a framework for guiding the design and development of any technology education curriculum. But in order to ensure that technology education is fostered in schools, there was a need for a national, non-profit organization solely committed to the enhancement of technological literacy in career-technical education programs. The Technology Student Association was born out of the need to support instructional programs in schools. Its main goal is to provide co-curricular, intra-curricular, and extra-curricular activities and competitive events to middle schools and high schools students nationwide. TSA provides the students with an opportunity to develop leadership skills, to participate in organizational activities and to promote technology education.

Formerly known as the American Industrial Arts Student Association (AIASA), the Technology Student Association (TSA) is the oldest student organization dedicated exclusively to students enrolled in technology education classes grades K-12. From 1958 to 1978, it was a sponsored activity of the American Industrial Arts Association (AIAA). In 1978, it evolved into a separate and independent organization. In 1988, it changed its name from Industrial Arts Student Association (AIASA) to Technology Student Association (TSA). The new name seemed more reflective of the activities of the organization and the new philosophical orientation of vocational technical education.

As is indicated in its motto, "Learning to live in a technical world" , the mission of TSA is to prepare its membership for the challenges of a dynamic world by promoting technological literacy, leadership, and problem solving, resulting in personal growth and opportunity. To better assist educators in developing students' technical skills, TSA works in partnership with several other professional education associations devoted to enhancing technology education in schools including International Technology Education Association ( ITEA), Career and Technical Student Organizations , United States Department of Education, to name but a few.

One of the organizations TSA collaborates with is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA. NASA has an Educational Outreach Program serving TSA grades K-12 students. Its community outreach personnel works with TSA students to help them design and develop different projects. It provides TSA students with the opportunity to explore, discover, and understand what NASA does. The program also provides summer internships and tours to TSA members. Some TSA members impressed by the NASA space program often become interested in space-related studies or careers.

Furthermore, TSA offers incentives to businesses and other organizations for partnership and sponsorship. Incentives include an invitation to states or national conferences, tabletop exhibit, promotional ads, sponsorship of a competition, corporate banner display, presentations at annual advisors meetings, company name printed in TSA publications, distinguished service award, and so forth. Some 2005 TSA Education Partners and National TSA Conference Sponsors include Aerospace Education Foundation , American Cancer Society, Applied Technologies, Association for Career and Technical Education , Career Communications, Inc. , Career and Technical Student Organizations, Council of Supervisors (ITEA), DuPont, Great Lakes U.S. Naval Station Color Guard , International Technology Education Association, Jaguar F1 Team in Schools, National Association of Secondary School Principals, Technology Education Collegiate Association ( TECA), United States Department of Education, U.S. Air Force Recruiting, USA Today, and Who's Who Among American High School Students.

Ultimately, TSA offers a lot of challenging competitive events and conferences to entice its members to develop academic as well as personal growth with respect to technological literacy. TSA members even compete in international competitions held outside of the United States . In 2004, for example, the Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania TSA Chapter won the 'Jaguar F1 Team in Schools' Competition in England . The ultimate goal for TSA competitive events and conferences is to promote problem-solving, decision-making, and critical thinking skills as they relate to communications, power, energy, transportation, engineering, manufacturing, Computer-Aided Design, desktop publishing, graphic design, construction, and biotechnology.

Headquartered in Reston , Virginia , TSA uses an emblem and colors symbolic of the meaningful identity of the organization. Its emblem is a rectangular shape with three parts. The middle section and largest part of the emblem contains the letters TSA in a very large, bold print. The letters are white on a blue background. Below these letters and about 1/3 the size, is the name of the association–Technology Student Association–in white letters on a red background. The top portion of the emblem is a blank, red, rectangular shape, the same size as the bottom area. This portion is intentionally left blank so that each state can put its own name on the emblem if desired.

With respect to colors, TSA uses scarlet (red), white, and blue (navy). Scarlet (red) represents the strength and determination of the technology education students and teachers to obtain their goal. White represents high standards, morals, and religious beliefs. Blue (navy) represents the sincerity of the technology education students and teachers in obtaining a greater knowledge of our technological world.

Throughout the years, TSA has had several distinguished speakers in its annual conferences. One of the noted guests was Dr. Jack Bacon, a n oted historian and expert in spacecraft design. He works at the NASA Johnson Space Center, where his duties include assignments in the integrated architecture, design, and operations of the Shuttle and of all systems in the US, Russian, Japanese, European and Canadian elements of the International Space Station.

TSA strives to improve female interests in technology education classes. According to an article by USA Today, TSA seems to be in compliance with Title IX, a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in programs that receive federal money. TSA opens its doors to boys and girls equally. It encourages young girls to get involved in technology, hence, discouraging the widespread view that vocational and technical programs are better suited for boys; and female students are good for liberal arts courses, clerical courses, and cosmetology.

But it has not always been this way. Let it be remembered that when the organization was called the American Industrial Arts Student Association, the membership was 100% male. Girls only became involved after the name change in 1988. And only now is its membership equally divided between male and female. Even so, there is still more work to be done. TSA is viewed as not proactive when it comes to recruiting female members. It is, however, worth pointing out that females hold important positions in the organization. Its current executive director is a woman, Dr. Rosanne T. White.

In conclusion, in today's technical world, schools are invested with a mission to produce life-long learners, technologically literate, endowed with leadership skills, ready to face technology-related challenges. In order to meet the goal of technological literacy, it is important that schools incorporate in their programs a career-technical student organization that is exclusively devoted to technology education. The Technology Student Association (TSA) seems to be the perfect CTSO for middle and high schools.

The Technology Student Association (TSA) is a national, non-profit organization for middle and high school students with an interest in technology. It boasts a 200,000+ student membership. It has nearly 2,500 technology teachers who conduct chapter programs in 47 states in the United States. Its goal is to promote technological literacy and leadership. It serves indiscriminately boys and girls.


Ask Jeeves. (2005). http://www.askjeeves.com

F1 Team in Schools. CAD/CAM Design Challenge . (2004). Jaguar Team in Schools.

Henry, T. (2002). Sex bias charged in vocational programs. USA TODAY

Student TSA Member Bylaws . (2004). Wagoner TSA.

Standards for Technological Literacy. Content for the Study of Technology . 2002. Reston , Virginia . International Technology Education Association.

The North Carolina Technology Student Association. (2005). What is the Technology Student Association? http://www.nctsa.org/about.htm .

The South Carolina Technology Student Association. (2005). Conference Events. http://www.sctsa.org/competitive.htm.

White, T. R. (2003). TSA Conference Features Historian Dr. Bacon and Competitions . http://www.tsaweb.org/content.asp?contentid=576.


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