Our Board

Under the guidance of our Board of Directors and Key Volunteers, FIRST Louisiana-Mississippi supports hundreds of FIRST robotics teams and dozens of competition and demonstration events each year. Please use the form below to contact any of these dedicated volunteers with your questions or comments.

annette oertling

Annette Oertling – President – FLL Affiliate Partner – Louisiana
Annette Oertling, Ph.D. is the president and a founding member of FIRST Louisiana-Mississippi, Inc. (formerly BLaST, Inc.), a non-profit organization responsible for bringing FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) LEGO® League (FLL) to Louisiana in 2003 and the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) to Louisiana and Mississippi in 2007. She is also Co-Director for the Greater New Orleans Science and Engineering Fair, serving grades 6-12 in Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines, and St. Bernard parishes, and serves on the board of Core Element, a regional collaborative between K-12, higher education, economic development, and business and industry institutions that are committed to improving the caliber of math and science education through teacher training.

Since retiring from Tulane University as a Professor of Practice in the Bio-medical Engineering Department and Assistant Dean for K-12 Outreach for the School of Science and Engineering in 2013, Annette now serves as Adjunct Faculty assisting with K-12 outreach programs. Her degrees include a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering and a M.A.T. in Math. She worked eight years for Exxon Company, U.S.A. in the production department, two years for Louise McGehee High School teaching math and science and twelve years for Tulane University. She lives in New Orleans and is married with 2 children and 2 grandchildren.


Warren 150Warren Cancienne – Vice President – Senior Judge Advisor – Louisiana
Warren Cancienne is a Senior Project Engineer in the Manufacturing Engineering Group at Intralox, LLC. He received his undergraduate degree in Engineering Science from the University of New Orleans and a Master of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A & M University.

Aside from his Officer-ships on both the FIRST Louisiana-Mississippi and BLaST boards, Warren has been a highly valued FIRST event volunteer for over 10 years; serving as the Judge Advisor for the Louisiana FIRST LEGO League State Tournament since 2003, and Judge Advisor for the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Bayou Regional since 2010. Warren has also been honored as a Distinguished Engineering Alumnus by the University of New Orleans.


barbara pailet - TreasurerBarbara Pailet – Treasurer
By vocation, Barbara Pailet is a teacher, but her passion is philanthropy. Professionally, she serves as the Executive Director of The Bruce J. Heim Foundation, a private foundation dedicated to helping young people to realize their full potential. Her personal time is invested in causes that directly impact people. Among her many community activities, she has a dedicated focus on FIRST. In 2004, in order to grow FIRST LEGO League (FLL) and FIRST in Louisiana, Barbara established a new non-profit organization, FIRST Louisiana-Mississippi, Inc. (formerly BLaST, Inc.) Through this entity, built with representatives from the business community, Universities, NASA and other non-profits, FLL and the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) have achieved enviable growth and made a positive impact on thousands of students.

Barbara has been the recipient of the New Orleans Jewish Federation’s Outstanding Young Leader Award, recognized as an Outstanding Young American Woman, was recognized by FIRST with an Outstanding Commitment Award for her work in Louisiana with FLL following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and was chosen as a 2015 Distinguished Service to Education Award winner by the Delta Chapter of the American Petroleum Institute Teacher Award Program. Currently, she is serving as President of Core Element, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing successful Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs to schools in the Greater New Orleans area. Barbara is married to Kenneth, a real life Barbie and Ken couple for 44 years! She has two daughters, one granddaughter and one grandson.


michelle hewlett sanchez 150Michelle Hewlett Sanchez, Ph.D. – Secretary – FLL Affiliate Partner – Louisiana
Michelle Hewlett Sanchez is a Professor of Practice and the Director for K-12 STEM Outreach in Tulane University’s School of Science and Engineering. She joined the Tulane faculty in the Physics and Engineering Department in August 2012. Michelle is a Tulane University graduate with a Bachelors of Science in Computer Engineering and Mathematics and a Masters of Science in Electrical Engineering. Michelle received the Ph.D. degree from the Department of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University in December 2011.

Her goal as the Director for K-12 STEM Outreach for the School of Science and Engineering is to match the resources at Tulane with partnerships in the community promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education for grades K–12. She works with the Center for Public Service at Tulane developing Service Learning courses and Service Internship opportunities for students in science and engineering.

She also coordinates the Tulane Science Scholars Program, which brings exceptional 10th–12th grade students to Tulane for for-credit summer classes with Tulane faculty. Students can earn college credit before high school graduation while having the option to stay on campus. In addition, she coordinates the Girls in STEM at Tulane program and Boys in STEM at Tulane program, which brings 5th–8th grade students to campus to meet and work with role models in STEM fields by doing hands-on activities.

Michelle also serves as Co-Director for the Greater New Orleans Science and Engineering Fair; open to 6th–12th grade students in a four-parish area who have placed in their school science and engineering fairs. Additionally, she helps coordinate the FIRST LEGO League (FLL, elementary/middle-school robotics) and FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC, high-school) events held in New Orleans.

She serves on the board of Core Element, which is a non-profit organization bringing STEM programs to schools in the Greater New Orleans area by training teachers and equipping them with hands-on, inquiry-based kits to be used in the classroom. Finally, she serves on the board of the New Orleans Charter Science & Mathematics High School.

carolyn arthurs squareCarolyn Arthurs – Board Member – Regional Director – Louisiana/Mississippi

Each Regional robotics competition has a director, who is responsible for fundraising, team recruitment and team support. The Regional Director (RD) also acts as liaison between FIRST Headquarters and the Regional Planning Committee, and as the Director of the Regional Event. In this position, the FIRST Regional Director for Louisiana and Mississippi teams throughout the year.

Carolyn Arthurs has held the position of Regional Director since 2012. Based in New Orleans, Louisiana, her expertise as a Regional Event Manager, since the year 2000 through Show Ready Events has given her experience running over 100 regional events throughout the country. In addition to her position as Regional Director of the Bayou Regional, Carolyn is also the owner of All About Events, a New Orleans based Social Event Company.

silhouetteCarol Cancienne – Board Member

Bio Coming Soon.




daniel eilandDaniel Eiland – Board Member – Senior Mentor – Louisiana

Bio Coming Soon.




mannie loweMannie Lowe – Board Member – FTC Affiliate Partner – Mississippi

Bio Coming Soon.




eddie_meltonEddie Melton – Board Member – Jr.FLL and FLL Affiliate Partner – Mississippi
Eddie Melton is an Operations Research Analyst at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) in Vicksburg, MS. Eddie’s main research focus involves the development, testing, and simulation of remote sensor systems for military and environmental applications. He is currently involved in numerous studies involving the characterization of signals in complex background environments through the use of thermal infrared, visible light, acoustic, and seismic sensors. Eddie has been awarded two patents for his work in hydroacoustic signal processing techniques for detecting submersed aquatic vegetation and using video-based imagery for automated detection and tracking of moving objects.

Eddie’s extensive volunteer efforts include serving as the FIRST® LEGO® League Jr. and FIRST® LEGO® League Affiliate Partner for Mississippi since 2014, a Judge Advisor for FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) events, a FIRST Technical Advisor (FTA) for FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) events since 2012, and as a mentor of the multi-award winning Siege Robotics FRC team 456 for over 10 years (2006).

Contact us:
Please use the form below to contact any of our board members or key volunteers, and for a faster response please address your question or comment to the individual you with to reach.