World Competition Another First for Robotics Team Dominican Ultraviolet

There are many “firsts” for the St. Mary’s Dominican High School Robotics Team Dominican Ultraviolet (Team 9637). It is the first all-girls’ team from Louisiana that advanced to the world competition after taking 1st place for the Inspire Award and 3rd place for the Connect Award at the Louisiana FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge) Regional Championship held in Denham Springs. Dominican Robotics Coach Crissy Giacona calls winning the state competition a huge achievement.”

Dominican Ultraviolet marked another first when it competed April 17-20 in Houston at the FIRST™ Championship, a culminating, international event for the youth robotics competition season and an annual celebration of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Dominican Ultraviolet was one of two teams representing Louisiana in the world championship that drew more than 40,000 people. The Dominican team competed against 250 teams from around the world. During the eight months prior to the world competition, the team worked on designing, building, prototyping, and programing their robot.

“Attending Worlds was a once in a lifetime experience where we met other teams, learned new things, and bonded as a team. It was a long sought after goal, and I am so happy that we qualified this year,” shared Dominican Robotics Captain Mia Reyes.

At the school’s May faculty meeting, 11 students on Team 9637 Dominican Ultraviolet gave a presentation about preparing and competing against teams from around the world at the FIRST Tech Challenge held in Houston. Team members talked about using CAD (Computer-aided design) to modify their chassis, design testing, and programming. This year they participated in several outreach opportunities to share their knowledge about robotics and FIRST.  

Coach Giacona described the world competition as a milestone. Our time at the World’s competition was an amazing experience where we met people from all around the world, made new friends, connected with other teams, leaving us inspired for next year’s challenges.

Robotics at Dominican began in 2013 when Coach Giacona was hired to teach science. The administration saw robotics experience on her resume and asked if she would start a robotics program. “The impact on students has been remarkable,” Giacona shared. “Robotics offers opportunities for all, whether as English writers showcasing robot growth, social media managers, math whizzes, hands-on builders, CAD designers, 3D printing enthusiasts, advocates for girls in robotics, drivers, or programmers. Our team fosters a strong sense of community, with many students expressing enjoyment and finding a platform to excel in their skills, often resulting in team awards.”

Among the Dominican students who have participated in robotics, some have pursued college studies and career paths related to robotics. Notes Coach Giacona, “We have graduates pursuing a range of careers: engineering, computer science, biomedical, plus there are Dominican alumnae who earned their masters’ degrees in these fields. Many attribute their career choices to their experiences in robotics, discovering fields they wouldn’t have considered otherwise.”

St. Mary’s Dominican High School Robotics Team Dominican Ultraviolet (Team 9637) and coaches at world competition are Back Row (from left): Coaches Matt Foss and Kenneth Lannes. Middle Row: Meredith Kononchek, Vanessa Liu, Kate Vatter, Mia Reyes, Hidaya-Nureen Khan, and Violet Matherne. Front Row: Isabella Sachitano, Angeli Bautista, Kaylee Gonzalez, Ardenne Kijko, Marisa Acevedo, and Coach Crissy Giacona.