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Lanier High School female underwater robotics team qualifies for World Championship competition

May 16, 2023Coach Reilly, and the Sea Cows Robotics Team: (Left to right) Sarah Redstrom (10th), Ciana Lee (10th), Eliss Palacios (10th),

     A five-member, all-female underwater robotics team from Lanier High School has qualified for the MATE ROV Competition World Championships in Colorado this summer. Makenna Reilly, an 11th grader, 10th graders Eliss Palacios, Ciana Lee, and Sarah Redstrom, as well as Violet Brockmann, a 9th grader, make up the Sea Cows Robotics Team.

       Mike Reilly, Lanier High School Business Education and Robotics Coach, is very proud of his talented students. “I have coached competitive robotics for almost two decades, and this team is so impressive for so many reasons,” Reilly shares. “All that they have done is from their self-motivated learning, their creativity and problem-solving, their determination, and collaboration.” The Sea Cows are a relatively new robotics team, founded three years ago. The first year it won the Regional Engineering award, and last year the team placed third.

     The MATE ROV (remotely operated vehicle) Competition is an underwater robotics challenge that engages a global community of learners each year. This year, the MATE ROV Competition is highlighting the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and inspiring the global community to embrace environmental, social, and governance efforts to create a sustainable future on the ocean planet. The competition is challenging its community to design and build an ROV and the necessary sensors and tooling to support work to combat climate change, provide clean energy, feed the growing global population, monitor ocean health, and preserve maritime history.

     The team practiced every weekend and worked daily on making improvements to their design. Two of the students flew to Dallas the day after qualifying for the World Championships. They were representing the Georgia Science and Engineering Fair at UGA in the Engineering category at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair, focusing on their underwater technology.

     The biggest challenge facing the Sea Cows team is raising $10,000 in four weeks. The funds are needed to cover the team’s expenses for flights, accommodations, meals, and transportation. If they are able to exceed their fundraising goal, the team has promised to use the excess money to fund STEM activities for girls in the community and recruit girls that cannot typically afford STEM camps and other similar enrichment opportunities.

     Among Lanier High School’s student population, approximately 40% are eligible for Free and Reduced-price meals, which means that about 40% of the school experiences financial hardship. As a result, the Sea Cows Robotics Team has limited financial means to cover expenses like those incurred to attend this competition. “We have been given amazing assets in our school to help our students to create what they envision, and these girls have gone beyond our expectations,” Reilly says, adding,  “I sincerely hope we can get them the support they need to compete at the World Championships. Last year, they qualified, and we could not afford it, but all projections would have put them in the top five teams in the world. Most importantly, this goes beyond this contest. The mission of the group is ‘to not only collaborate to make an efficient underwater ROV but to give young women a safe place to explore and push their STEM passions.’ Imagine what a World Championship appearance, and maybe a win, could do in helping them to accomplish their mission?”

     In an effort to support the team, Reilly set up a GoFundMe account. “I have never used GoFundMe before, as a teacher or for any other purpose, but these girls deserve every effort I can give. We appreciate any help the community can offer to create some of the STEM leaders of tomorrow,” he says.


To learn about the team:




To learn about the competition: 


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