PHOENIX — A group of Arizona women recently placed first in the country and third in the world at an international robotics competition.
The team called Desert Wave, competed for the very first time in August. They are one of only two teams across the globe made up of all women. More than half of its members are freshman at Arizona State University.
"Engineering as a whole is obviously male dominated and you can see it in your classes," Samantha Nieto, a member of the team and junior at ASU, said. "When I go to class, there can be 100 students and only 2 to 3 girls."
Nieto admits she's struggled with her confidence in the male-dominated field.
"I kind of feel like I can't ask questions or I have to keep to myself," she said.
The Si Se Puede Foundation partnered with ASU to create the all female-team, specifically to help women build confidence and the skills they need to succeed in STEM.
The women designed and programmed a robot to perform certain tasks underwater.
Nieto has this message for other women considering a dive into the world of engineering, math and science: "Believe in yourself, ask questions," she said. "Because what's the worst thing that could happen?"
For this rookie team, it was a boost in confidence and the world-class recognition to prove it.
"It seems like such a little thing, but to me it's made a whole difference in my life," Nieto said.
The team is already preparing to compete next year.