tsa badges medAs you'll recall from my last email, I was in Nashville the last week in June. My stepdaughter participated in the National Technology Student Association competition. She placed in the top ten for her event and we're very proud of her. The TSA is a student organization with chapters in many middle and high schools in the US and several foreign countries. The students construct projects individually or in teams on topics like Animatronics, Digital Photography, Digital Video, Web Design, Software Development, CNC fabrication, CAD design, and dozens of other areas. I volunteered to help judge the Software Development competition. There were 44 teams competing at the Nationals. Some of the projects were clearly learning exercises to help the students learn the basics, but about a half dozen projects really blew us away. One group wrote web-based software to manage a Boy Scout Camp and was actually in produciton. Another was a graphcs program to generate texture maps for games and 3D renderings. Another detected screen flashes that could trigger epileptic seizures and blanked the screen. The winner was a project to help people learn to spell words in American sign language. It was browser-based and presented the user with the sign language alphabet. The user would select a letter to practice and the learning program would turn on the webcam. The user points the webcam to a plain wall and signs the letter. The software then snaps a photo of the user, does edge detection and a statistical comparison to the reference and tells the user if they signed the letter correctly. It was truly amazing for high school students to create software this sophisticated. I was impressed. If you have a chance to support or volunteer with organizations like the TSA in your community, I encourage you to do so. Just my brief time with these remarkable young people was very rewarding.