Morristown, New Jersey – Villa Walsh Academy hosted a kick-off event on November 19 for its new Robotics team, SISTERS 1st, part of the global entity of FIRST Robotics. The team, composed of more than a third of the high school student population, will collaborate first on the development of a business plan and marketing strategy as well as community outreach, followed by the design, building, and programming of a robot to compete in FIRST Robotics competitions in May, 2021.

The event featured the presentation of tools and a 3-D printer by Mid-Atlantic Robotics, as provided through a grant from the Argosy Foundation. The Argosy Foundation Is a private family foundation with the mission; “to solve systemic problems, build teams and communities, create replicable solutions, and inspire others to contribute in their own ways.”

Mid-Atlantic Robotics facilitates and supports FIRST Robotics teams throughout New Jersey, Delaware, and eastern Pennsylvania. Herb Katz, Development Director, and Joe Troy, Program Director, congratulated the team for being the first female team as well as the largest rookie robotics team in the state. Sr. Elaine Bebyn, MPF, Principal of Villa Walsh Academy, accepted the equipment on behalf of the team. She congratulated the team and said, “the pioneering young women who have embraced this endeavor are today making history for Villa Walsh Academy.”

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Lee Anne Nugent, Head Coach, acknowledged team mentors and corporate sponsors who have given support to the team, especially Joe Troy and Herb Katz of Mid-Atlantic Robotics.

“Without you, this day would not have been possible”, said Nugent. She went on to congratulate the 52 team members assembled for the event for their dedication to learning and applying new skills and technologies that will ideally inspire young women everywhere to pursue careers in science and engineering. On behalf of Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill, she also presented each of the team members with Congressional Certificates of Recognition and quoted the Congresswoman, “Thank you to FIRST Mid-Atlantic for making STEM opportunities a priority and providing the resources that will help the young women at Villa Walsh compete at the top of their game,” said Rep. Sherrill. “And congratulations to the students of the Sisters 1st robotics team on being the first all-women team in New Jersey in the FIRST competition. Your focus on science and math, teamwork, and the resilience required to see a project through from start to finish, even when things don’t go as expected, will serve you well, now and in the future.”

New Jersey State Senator Tony Bucco presented the team with a Joint Senate and General Assembly Citation recognizing Sisters 1st as the first all-female robotics team in the state.

"I would like to congratulate Villa Walsh Academy and all of the participants in Sisters 1st, which will be the only all-women's team from New Jersey to compete in the FIRST Robotics program," said Senator Anthony M. Bucco. "Too often, young women are not given the encouragement, support, or opportunity to explore interests in the sciences in such a fun and hands on manner. It's my sincere hope that efforts like Sisters 1st will help us to address the significant underrepresentation of women in the STEM fields."