Basehor student inspires others as TSA president

Beth Kornegay/Special to the Times
Abby Otten, left, serves as the president of the Kansas State Technology Student Association. She is shown with TSA adviser Debby Jobe.

Basehor-Linwood High School senior Abby Otten has been involved with the Kansas State Technology Student Association (TSA) since her sophomore year and is currently serving as the organization’s president for a second year. She was inspired by a previous state president when she was in middle school and immediately knew she wanted to be a leader in the organization. Already president of the BLHS chapter, Otten said she fell in love with TSA even more because she could inspire others to learn about the organization and leadership.

TSA is a national nonprofit organization of middle and high school students who are involved in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) classes and activities. Since its inception in 1978, nearly four million members have participated in competitions, leadership opportunities, community service and other school learning activities.

Otten initially joined TSA when a new chapter began at Basehor-Linwood Middle School when she was in eighth grade. Once she got to high school, she was one of the charter members of the group when it began.

“I enjoy being a part of TSA because there are a lot of opportunities that come with membership including making connections, learning new skills and leading a group of people,” Otten said. “I love BLHS TSA because I have made a lot of friends and have been able to push myself with the help of our adviser, Mrs. Jobe.”

Jobe serves as adviser to the TSA group at both the middle and high school. She was recently named middle school adviser of the year at the organization’s national convention. This was her second time for this honor. Otten said Jobe does a great job encouraging students to learn more and continue to improve their STEM skills both for competition and as a general life skill.

Otten’s responsibilities as president include preparing and hosting all Kansas TSA activities. She also attends many leadership-related events to further her skills including the Kansas Board of Education meetings to give presentations.

In September of last year, Otten became involved with the BLHS Innovation Academy to learn more about the biomedical engineering industry, with an emphasis in prosthetics. She participated in an internship with MidStar Labs in Tonganoxie to learn how orthotics and prosthetics are created. She was able to use that experience to design and create a prosthetic leg for a TSA competition. Most recently, Otten changed her Innovation Academy focus to a project making YouTube videos about life skills that are important to learn before heading into adulthood.

An advocate for getting young women involved with STEM programs, Otten believes that getting ideas from young women to innovate and improve technology will better meet the needs of everyone. She also believes that all female students should have at least one or two classes of technology or engineering classes to see if they are interested in the field before making decisions about going to college or selecting a college major. Otten is planning to attend Wichita State University to major in biomedical engineering and minor in mathematics. Her career goal is to work with prosthetics or space biomedical engineering.

“By becoming the Kansas TSA state president, I have been able to increase my abilities in public speaking and leadership. I am honored to hold this elected position for a third year,” Otten said.