MHS to represent CNMI at nat’l RWDC competition


A team from Marianas High School will be representing the entire Pacific region at the upcoming Real World Design Challenge.

The CNMI Aeronautics was named the overall Pacific region champion for the RWDC competition after going head-to-head versus Guam and American-Samoa and coming out on top last Jan. 22, 2018.

As the Pacific state champions, they will compete with champions from each state and the international champions of China and Asia.

The team is made up of project director Chenoa Bunts-Anderson, Ian Cataluna, Mimi Sakano, Daniel Villarmero, Eun Jun Wang, and Gaeun Melody Yang.

According to Bunts-Anderson, she and her team spent about six months preparing for the regionals.

“By the time I reached high school, I knew that within STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math] lay all the subjects of my devotion and RWDC was the ideal program to get involved in,” Bunts-Anderson said.

Bunts-Anderson and Villarmero are both seniors, with 2018 marking their last year with RWDC.

Villarmero said: “The Real World Design Challenge helped me and many others figure out what STEM-related field we want to work in and gives us a chance to work toward that goal.”

Cataluna, a junior, said that “RWDC is the first major competition in which I have been allowed to compete on a national basis.”

As a new member, Wang was able to learn about aeronautics and STEM, saying that “interest in STEM will gradually grow in our school” with RWDC and other programs.

The team is coached by Jeaniffer H. Cubangbang.

The RWDC is a competition where students are given real-life problems and the students solve them through the use of STEM. This year, the problem given was that in the next few years, starvation would be a possibility due to the growing population. The CNMI Aeronautics worked on the problem by creating an agricultural drone that could more efficiently detect pests in crops and eliminate the pests through spraying. The students went through a process of brainstorming, seeking out mentors, designing, and building the drone.

According to Public School Systems interim commissioner Glenn Muña, he is confident that the CNMI Aeronautics will make the CNMI proud as well when they compete at the national RWDC competition on April 21 in Washington, D.C.

This is the third time MHS will be representing the Pacific region at the RWDC nationals.

The state RWDC competition is coordinated by the CNMI Public School System, whose state coordinator is Bobby Cruz.

Individuals who have aided in the 20018 team’s successful win include Manoj Rahematpura, Rob Combs, Myla Beltran, Dr. Timothy Kock, Carly Garrison, David Billingsley, Rene Buendia, Jeff Duvan, Emory Frink, Cpt. Christina Hart Mastracchio, Roberto Malate, Claus Bier, Douglas A. Brennan, Admiral Shoshana Chatfield, Ashley Beck, Jeremiah Rother, Robert Malate, John McElligott, Clariza Magat, Marianas Aviation, and NMC-CREES

MHS students have consistently won the state RWDC since their first participation in 2012.

In 2013 and 2015, they won first place at the national RWDC. They have also won national merit awards in 2012 and 2016, as well as additional national recognition in the last two years.

“We’d like to thank the parents who have tirelessly supported the students, the CNMI PSS Board of Education who have provided shirts and computers, Central Office for keeping the competition ongoing and resources available, and Marianas High School for their support in resources, especially students that tried out,” said Cubangbang in a press statement.

Those that have supported the 2017 national competition include Saipan Computer Services, C Pacific Corp. Five Star Builders, and Dr. Bunts-Anderson.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at

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