Prior to 2011, Boys' Latin had a robotics club, sponsored by Mr. Witter, in which students where challenged to create different types of robots from kits and program robots using the Lego Mindstorm Kit.

The robotics club had not yet participated in competitions until the following school year, when Mr. Smith developed robotics as an elective class as well as an after school club. The team registered for the FIRST Tech Challenge, which is designed for students who want to compete head to head. Teams of up to 10 students were responsible for designing, building, and programming a robot to compete in an alliance format against other teams. Student programmed the robot using a LabView or RobotC. Teams, including coaches, mentors, and volunteers, were required to develop strategy and build robots based on sound engineering principles.

On September 10, members of the Boys’ Latin Robotics Team (Deus Ex Machina) assembled for the first time and attended a kick-off event for the FIRST Tech Challenge on at Livingston High School in New Jersey. This event allowed the team to see the new competition requirements and to see other robots created by teams who have been competing for years.

The team, after many classes of planning, was ready to start working on the robot. They attended a first-year team workshop at Moorestown Friend School (MFS) to get guidance with programming and building the robot. At MFS, our team built a basic robot using parts from our kit. While part of the team worked on the robot, other members learned about programming using a graphic programming platform called LabVIEW. The team later named this first robot B.R.O. (which stands for Boys' Latin Robotics Organization). Students also were able to drive robots on a course that was set up like the course we will use in competitions later in the year. At the end of the day, MFS sent us home with a ramp, bowling ball, crates, and other materials that we can use to practice for upcoming competitions. We send our gratitude to Mr. Clarke and his students for their support and guidance.

The robotics team attended its first scrimmage at Phoenixville 
High School in the Middle of November, during which many teams helped them program and set up the autonomous mode for the robot. Although Deus Ex Machina did not get the chance to compete with their robot at the scrimmage, drivers on the team were givin a chance to compete with Phoenixville High School's robot in 3 matches. Before the scrimmage ended, the robotics team had made many adjustments to the robot as well as made many alliances with future teams.

In effort to raise money, Deus Ex Machina, started a fundraiser in which each grade was given a bucket to put money. The grade that raised the most money was given a movie day on a Wednesday with popcorn. The robotics team raised enough money to pay for t-shirts. The freshman class were the victors of the competition.

In February, the ream competed in a local qualifying tournament at West Philadelphia High School. The top 7 teams, along with the team who won the Engineering Notebook award, would go to the State Championship to qualify for Nationals in St. Louis. There were 18 different teams involved in the qualifier, and the competition was fierce. Deus Ex Machina made a great run at the competition coming in 13th place, scoring almost 200 points altogether in competition. This was a great achievement, seeing that the team never competed with the robot before, and beating 6 other teams was great. Three members from the team also went to the judges room, where they were interviewed by three judges about the team and their journey throughout the year. The team had a chance to present themselves, as well as the Engineering Notebook to the judges. The team had a lot of experiences with other teams, as well as gained a lot of knowledge towards coming to competitions, and planning robot design for the team next year.

In April, Ms. DeChant, the school's physics teacher, started to take the reigns from Mr. Smith. Ms. DeChant has supported the team throughout the year in the robotics class and had attended many of the Saturday events. Ms. DeChant is making plans with the team for next years competition and is leading efforts to build a larger team that can compete in competitions through the National Society of Black Engineers and the SeaPerch program.

Deus ex machina
The name for the 2011-2012 Boys' Latin robotics team comes from a Latin phrase that means "god out of the machine." The Romans phrase referred to a plot device used by ancient Greek playwrights that involved the resolution of a difficult challenge at the end of a play through the introduction of a god. The god would arrive on stage by way of a crane, trapdoor, or some other contraption. The resolution was unexpected but necessary if the playwright was to offer a solution to the challenges presented by the plot. Greek philosopher Aristotle and Roman poet Horace generally criticized the use of this plot device. Our robotics team, recognizes that plenty of drama will play out in our work together--but eventually our robot will resolve the challenges and save the day.