Women Helping Women: All Girls Robotics Team Readies For Battle
As NY1 continues its coverage of Women's History Month, the station takes a look at the Mary Louis Academy in Queens where a group of high school girls, through cooperation and ingenuity, are making a name for themselves in the world of robotics. NY1's Ruschell Boone filed the following report.
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The Mary Louis Academy was one of the four winning New York City high schools that are now scheduled to compete in the U.S. First Competition National Championships -- one of the most elite robotic contests in the country. Not bad for a rookie team that spent six weeks building their robot.
"It's not very often that you see a first year team advance as far as we did. We're very excited," said TMLA team member Melissa Madara.
Team TMLA's robot will compete in a soccer game as a defender. It also has to protect the scoring robots on its team.
TMLA is made up of 15 girls from one freshman on up to seniors. And for many, it's all about learning new things and working together to accomplish the goal of getting the robot to work and work well.
"It's not just mechanical," Madara said. "We also have a design team, advertising team and programming so it really allows everyone to touch on a bunch of different fields."
"At first I really didn't know anything about robotics or mechanics or anything like that. And after this I learned like a whole bunch of different things like how to drill a hole with the drill press, that's like my favorite part," said TMLA team member Antigua Johnson.
"We learned a lot of stuff like how to work with tools, how to work with metals. We learned a little bit about programming but not much because that's the hard part," said TMLA team member Vanessa Ronan.
But there is a bigger life lesson here. The girls are learning about science and engineering -- fields that have long been dominated by men.
"First of all being an all girls school says we believe in the capabilities of women and we give women every opportunity in this building," said Mary Louis Academy Principal Sister Kathleen McKinney. "Everything we do is for the education of young women and we believe in them. So there's no glass ceiling here."
That's what Vanessa Ronan's father thought when he convinced his daughter and the school to get a team together to enter the competition.
An engineer by trade, Vanessa Ronan's father, Greg Ronan, says introducing women to the field is the best way to get them excited about it.
"We're the beneficiary of computers, cell phones. It's all technology. So hopefully these are all seeds that will all go out to the world and become the next generation of technology," Ronan said.
For now, the girls say they just want to win the national competition that's scheduled to be held in Atlanta next month.