Building HERstory: Introducing Northeast Ohio’s only all-girls robotics team

The Fighting Unicorns placed 4th in the Buckeye Regional & won the Inspiration Award. They now move on to World Championships in Houston, TX
Published: Apr. 1, 2023 at 4:47 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Saturday at the Wolstein Center in downtown Cleveland, a group of young women huddled around an object, fine-tuning what has been their labor of love since the beginning of the school year: a robot.

“We’ve put in almost 400 hours from then until now and even more time in between that’s probably unchecked,” said Raina Vakharia.

They are the Fighting Unicorns, a team of 40 students and six mentors from Hathaway Brown in Shaker Heights.

They’re competing in a FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics competition and making history as the only all-girls high-school robotics team in Northeast Ohio.

They know all eyes are on them.

“We really use this to be a role-model for other teams. We know that there are some other teams that are starting to think about becoming an all-girls team and we really want to inspire other women to get into STEM and get into engineering,” said Amira Horowitz.

The overall goal of the competition is to engage students in an engineering project to design, build, test and operate a robot, all different parts of STEM.

The Fighting Unicorns have been doing the work and taking names.

Last month, the team competed in Cincinnati, where they finished 5th out of 38 teams, winning the Sustainability Award.

The ladies tell 19 News they’re proud to light this path in what is still a male-dominated field.

While they’re building, they hope to stay competitive, keeping in mind the ultimate prize.

Building HERstory: the ‘Fighting Unicorns’ Northeast Ohio’s only all girls high-school robotics...
Building HERstory: the ‘Fighting Unicorns’ Northeast Ohio’s only all girls high-school robotics team winning competitions and blazing trails(woio)

“We’re just trying to promote the first message through female empowerment, it’s been really successful so far and we just really hope to keep doing it in the future,” said Vakharia.

The Fighting Unicorns placed 4th in the Buckeye Regional.

The team was also recognized with the Inspiration Award, given to the team that demonstrates the highest example of outreach, inspiring respect and honor to science and technology, and encouraging more of today’s youth to become leaders in STEM.

The Inspiration Award also comes with an award from NASA Glenn and by winning, the Flying Unicorns qualify for the FIRST Robotics World Championships in Houston, Texas, on April 19 to 22, where they will compete against teams from over 50 countries.