PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Little race cars built by high school engineering students go from zero to 50 in about one second, on a 65-foot track at Pittsburgh Technical Institute.

From “drag races” to architectural renovation, and more, some 400 students from 13 area high schools competed in the annual TSA event at Pittsburgh Technical Institute in Oakdale on Wednesday.

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“TSA stands for Technology Student Association,” says regional advisor Tim Linkenheimer. He talked about the “problem solver” competition.

“What they have to do is bring a certain set of tools and materials, and they’re given a random problem, and they’re able to use those tools and materials in order to be able to solve it.”

Teams of two receive an assortment of unrelated items, ranging from marbles and golf balls to rubber bands and paper clips, in an effort to achieve the seemingly impossible. According to written instructions, students have two hours to construct a device that will keep a golf ball in motion for thirteen seconds, but not more than fifteen seconds, then cause a balloon to pop, releasing a marble into a drinking cup.

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Ambridge senior Marissa Golgosky isn’t fazed by the daunting mission.

“You never know what you’ll have to do, and it’s always a challenge,” she says. “But it’s really fun, and it’s neat to see everybody’s ideas after it’s over.”

Welcome Tjelmeland of Avonworth High says the key is anticipating problems..

“We decided that every problem we ran into, we’d make something that will avoid it or counteract it.”

The TSA competition continues Thursday with junior highs and middle schools.

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