Blue Phantom Gets a Makeover

Once the Mecha Lions competed in their first tournament, they wanted more. Reaching the quarterfinals in the elimination matches was not enough, and they were motivated to do what was needed to qualify for the state finals. With many ideas on how to improve, our lead engineer, Aiden Perez, made a new robot – Blue Phantom 2.0 – from scratch, while our strategist Dayvon Mitchell made possible improvements to our initial Blue Phantom design. Thanks to Sgt. Baker and Mr. Aytas were also able to order a pneumatics kit, which would help us extend our robot to score even more points.

After days – and even nights – of working on the robot, we were back at the Monroe Township High School on February 17th, to battle it out again. The stakes were higher this time because this was the last tournament in New Jersey to qualify for the state finals. To help out, we had more members join us, and we were prepared to do our best. Not even the heavy snow in the morning could stop us.

Dayvon came up with a questionnaire to help us with our research of other robots. Together with our main programmer-turned-engineer, Emir Talas, and assistant programmer Miley Medina, the group went and interviewed different teams participating in the tournament, asking about strategies and the inspirations for their designs. Elizabeth Marchena had already submitted our engineering notebook for review, and Iris Soto was documenting the tournament, making note of our performance after each round, and taking photos and videos of good robot designs. Over on the team bench, Aiden added finishing touches to the robot, assisted by Ryson Dennett-Davis, and our new engineers, Areli Ruiz and Landon Rankine. 

Once the robot was ready, the Mecha Lions were back in action, starting strong with a four-win streak in the qualifying rounds. The matches that followed were a bit more challenging, but our team persevered, helping us secure a spot in the quarter-finals once more. We formed an alliance and came up with a strategy, but unfortunately, the other alliance outmatched us, and our journey came to an end. 

This time, we ranked 12th among a total of 34 teams. While our achievement was great, we left the venue with dimmed spirits, because we hoped to go further. Even still, I am extremely proud of how far we have come this year. Making a robot from scratch is no mean feat, especially while also managing schoolwork, and on such a tight schedule. Communicating with other teams also requires strong interpersonal skills. On top of that, our team also impressed me during their interviews with the judges. Although we did not get the outcomes we hoped for, we had established ourselves as a team that consistently did well, and as a team that was willing to go the extra mile to succeed. I wish our Lions good luck, and hope they come back even stronger next time!

– Coach Memon

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