The Muses compete in robotics qualifier, demonstrate ‘growth,’ ‘resilience’


Photo credit: Audrey Chang

Alejandra Cortes (’24) and Chloe Hayden (’24) work on their robot, practice running it and make any necessary adjustments before using it in competition. On Feb. 20, The Muses competed in a qualifying tournament at Monrovia High School.

By Audrey Chang, News Editor

After competing in four rounds of competition this school year, Archer’s robotics team, The Muses, continued to improve their robot and prepared for a qualifier competition. The qualifier took place Feb. 20 at Monrovia High School and gave the team the opportunity to advance to larger competitions.

The team meets twice per rotation during US-FLX Blocks, as well as Mondays and Wednesdays after school. All of their previous competitions have been held at YULA Boys High School. This is sophomore Lilly Dembo’s second year on the robotics team, and she said she appreciated the way the team has been able to develop together throughout the year. 

“[At] all of our tournaments that we’ve had, we’ve been progressing more and more, and we’ve become really close with each other, which has been really fun,” Dembo said. “I really like being a part of a group of people who are all interested in robotics.” 

Each competition has at least five rounds where the teams compete and try to score as many points as they can, and in between rounds, they can adjust or fix any dysfunctional aspects. After problem-solving, the teams get to compete with their robot again 10 or 15 minutes later, the faculty adviser for the robotics team, Mike Carter, said.

I think that each of us has figured out what our strengths are and how we can contribute our new skills to the team.”

— Alejandra Cortes ('24)

“The competitions have been really an interesting chance for the team to come together in a high-pressure situation,” Carter said. “Every team has a situation where a wheel comes off or something gets stuck, or a mechanism gets tangled up with something else on the field, and I think that our team has shown a lot of resilience in fixing those kinds of things between rounds, and coming right back out and doing it again.”

Sophomores Alejandra Cortes and Dembo said that the team has made many adjustments to enhance their robot, and the students were excited to have the opportunity to showcase their robot’s strengths at the qualifier. Cortes joined the robotics team this year and is focused on the code to run the robot.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how far our robot has come from the beginning of our tournaments,” Cortes said. “From our first competition, our robot was still in the works, but now we’ve improved it tremendously, and I’m excited to see how we have improved.”

Carter said that The Muses are strong collaborators and have been able to adapt and grow their robot both in between rounds at competitions and in their meetings.

“I just hope that they can connect with the satisfaction of the success that they’ve had — just in coming to create this robot and coming together as a team,” Carter said. “They have been able to evolve and adapt and not just on the field or in those competitions between rounds, but even in terms of their robot design.” 

Dembo said that students on the team like the problem-solving aspect of robot-building, and as participants in the First Tech Challenge, they create different robot functions for various tasks and challenges.

“I’m looking forward to [seeing] how our robot is going to work. We’ve been making so many adjustments on it lately,” Dembo said. “I really enjoy putting things together, which has been my favorite part, and figuring out solutions to problems.” 

If The Muses placed highly enough at the qualifier, they would have advanced to the Southern California Regional Qualifier, and from there they would possibly advance to the World Championships in Houston, Texas.

“What we’re really hoping for in the qualifier is for the team to really get the satisfaction of all the work that they’ve put in this year — to go out there and enjoy it and to really feel pride,” Carter said. “I feel like they’ve come so far this year.”