St. Catharine Academy Robotics teams take awards at state, world championships

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From left, Yudelis Mateo Moronta, Kristina Pereira and Miracle Lynn Breban.
Photo courtesy Patricia Wolf

After two years of virtual state competitions, the St. Catharine Academy Robotics Team showed up in person on March 12, for the Vex Southern New York State Championship at the Aviation Museum hosted by Vaughn College,  in Queens. 

Competing against 60 teams, the SCA Robotics Team took home the Judges Award which recognized the team’s accomplishments throughout the season, especially their excellent engineering interview, engineering notebook, teamwork in the robot design process, and robot skills. The award also recognizes the high quality of SCA’s robotics program.

It wasn’t easy getting to this point of success. The team had only four veteran seniors and eight new underclasswomen. While they got off to a slow start, they won two award-qualifier competitions in a row leading up to the state competition. 

“This entire season has been nerve-wracking for me as it is my first year as Captain of the Robotics Team,” said senior Mahnoor Sultan, the team’s captain. “It was scary knowing I had big shoes to fill, especially coming back from an online season last year. Competing at States has opened my eyes as to how much time and effort I was actually putting into the team and the robots.” 

Senior Nayeli Acevedo, co-captain, added, “This has been one of the proudest moments of my high school career. After not competing for two years, I had to learn to build a robot from scratch. Seeing my team’s hard work pay off has been a reward in itself. We gave it maximum effort and have made this season one for the books.”

Not to be outdone, St. Catharine Academy’s Drone Team competed in “Worlds” on March 26, in the Drone Virtual Robotics Competition sponsored by VRad, a division of VEX Robotics. The SCA Drone Team put their coding skills to the test amongst 200 teams worldwide, and placed fifth in the top 59 teams in their division. 

“This Drone Competition has been a great introduction and experience in the world of coding for us,” Kristina Pereira, senior and lead coder, said. “Our team was able to communicate effectively with one another to come up with different strategies to overcome the game’s challenges. I’ve always been interested in coding and plan to study computer science in college. This competition was an incredible experience overall because it allowed us to build on our problem-solving skills.”

One recognition that the Robotics Team especially is proud of is the recognition by Vaughn College as the best all-girl roll model team. Said Robotics teacher and coach Ms. Sheree Petrignani, “I am ecstatic that all of my STEM students have developed a passion for learning difficult science and math material. Together we have explored and navigated unchartered waters for young women in the world of high school robotics, drones, and environmental protection issues. Their competition success has proven them to be very competent young ladies and as talented as their male counterparts.” 

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