TEAMS place in engineering tourney, advance to nationals

    All three teams pose for a picture after competing at the TEAMS state competition. The underclassmen team placed sixth, while the upperclassmen A team took fourth and the B team placed first. Photo: Jerry Hong.

    The Palo Alto High School Test of Engineering Aptitude in Math and Sciences club poses for a picture after their annual state competition on Feb. 27 at San Jose State University. The club has attended all state competitions held since its creation in 2015. Photo: Jerry Hong.

    Three teams of Palo Alto High School students are preparing to attend the nationals competition this summer after placing at a state engineering contest on Feb. 27.

    According to junior co-president Jerry Hong, Paly sent three teams to the Test of Engineering Aptitude in Math and Science competition: one underclassmen team and two upperclassmen teams. According to the results released to coaches on Monday, Paly’s underclassmen team placed sixth overall, the upperclassmen B team placed first and the A team placed fourth.

    “Although our main goal at the competition was to try to make it to the national conference, we certainly did not expect to make first in the state, of which I’m very proud of our team,” junior B team member Stefan Quach said.

    The underclassmen competed against 21 other teams, and the upperclassmen teams competed against 36 other teams. All three teams have been preparing for the state competition since November, according to Hong.

    “We had study meetings about twice a month, where each member would research one of the eight topics covered in this year’s competition and practice the first part of the competition,” Hong said.

    According to the TEAMS’s official website, the nationals competition consists of three parts: an essay, a presentation and an event called “problem solving.” The top ranked team for each level in each state will receive a ‘Best in State’ banner for its school, medals for the team members and a certificate.

    “The essay is due two weeks before the actual competition; it involves researching a certain topic and making a certain decision, such as investing in specific biofuel-related technologies, which was last year’s topic,” Hong said. “The presentation is similar but is delivered on site. Last year the topic was rebuilding cities struck with a natural disaster using renewable energy.”

    The problem-solving portion involves both a build event and a set of questions related to eight topics, according to Hong. The eight topics are pumping systems, failure engineering and materials science, genomics, lenses and telescopes, microscope technology, semiconductor materials, six sigma manufacturing methods and space exploration.

    The club hopes to retain its previous rankings and improve its ranking in the problem solving portion, according to junior co-president Samarth Venkatasubramaniam.

    “Last year, we got second in essay, sixth in presentation and seventh overall,” Venkatasubramaniam said. “In the upcoming months, we’ll be writing our essay and then we will research and practice for the other two events.”

    According to Hong, there may potentially be a couple spots open for the nationals competition.

    “Some people on our team might be unable to make the national competition, so there might be a couple spots open,” Hong said. “If people are interested, we’ll definitely consider adding them to the national teams and can shoot me an email at [email protected]

    Because the club is relatively new, Hong says he believes it will continue to grow and members will gain valuable experience competing in competitions with real-world topics.

    “Hopefully the introduction of a club like this will allow even more students to explore STEM [Science Technology Engineering and Math] and investigate topics that aren’t taught in a typical science class,” Hong said.

    The national competition will take place from June 28 to July 2 in Nashville, Tennessee.

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