Robotics Team Needs Mechanics Mentor
Stingers of Steel 6642 Tackling 2019 Challenges

Feb 5, 2019

By Dianne Alward-Biery
Cleaver Staff Writer

HARRISON – This is the third year that students programmersfrom Harrison Community Schools have taken up the challenge to “build a better robot” and compete with other schools in the state. As an inter-school competition, robotics is treated as a team sport. The Harrison Stingers of Steel team has acquitted itself well to date, and this year again seems to have an enthusiastic, positive outlook.

The team is supported by parents and mentors from the community who contribute as much of their time as possible. Parents and students alike have been active in fundraising events, and the team also sells its logoed T-shirts and hoodies to raise money for meals and lodging. The liaison between the team and parents is Jody Bennett, and the team’s adviser is Kevin Smalley, technology coordinator at the Clare-Gladwin RESD.

During a work session Saturday, Feb. 2 at Harrison High School, Smalley explained that after the previous year’s robot had been completely disassembled, new construction began Jan. 5. New guidelines are set out each year, ensuring that robots are not built on the previous year’s chassis.


“It’s kind of a mixture of last year’s parts and some new parts from this year so that we didn’t have to buy an entirely new frame,” Smalley said. “This year’s size constraint is different from last year’s size constraint, so we had to reconfigure. They did change the game up enough this year that none of the stuff we had last year will work this year. We are building from scratch.”

He also described the serious practical challenges the team faces. Smalley has been guiding the Stingers of Steel with the help of other professionals, but the real-world workloads for those folks have been causing a robotics work-time shortfall. This is particularly concerning, due to the rapidly approaching deadline.


“We need mentors,” Smalley said. “Mechanics, people who know how to build things out of working parts. We generally have Barry Wallace of Wallace Repair, but he has so much work right now he can’t get away. I don’t want him to feel pushed aside, but I have to try and find somebody who can come in and help.

“The robot has to be built by Feb. 19, so I just really need somebody between now and then. And maybe a couple days after that, because we will have a couple meetings where we’re allowed to work for up to 6 hours, but not every day like we are now.”

He said that anyone who interacts with students is required to pass a basic background check, and that the actual time-frame commitment will be brief – possibly once or twice per week, and possibly a Saturday.

Currently, the team is working Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday through Feb. 16.

Smalley said that Harrison businesses and residents have been helping to support the team, and listed some of the donations the team has received.

“We got a $200 from Dan Durga [specifically to buy a 3-port battery charger], $500 from a couple other people, and we’ve had some smaller businesses give us $100, $50,” he said. “We’ve gotten donations all the way up to $2,000 [from Dow Corning]. We’ve gotten about $3,500 in total donations. With that extra this year, we’ve been able to buy new batteries and a battery charger.”

Smalley said the projected cost this year will be from $14,000 to $15,000. After receiving roughly $7,000 in grants and donations, along with about $1,200 earned through car washes and bake sales, etc., the balance of the cost will be covered by Harrison Community Schools. The financial problem with a sport like robotics is that there is no gate at these events which generally sport 40 teams at every contest. Spectators are not charged to watch the competitions, and there are no concessions as at other sporting events.

“They do not charge anybody to get in,” he said. “Some schools will have 75 people there, and some people have 7 there, but the grandstands are always full – standing room only at most of the matches.”

One particularly challenging part of competition will come at the end when the robot has to return home, and seat itself atop of a 6-inch high platform box without the use of a ramp.

“These guys have a plan,” Smalley said. “Their plan is to…” He went on to describe in detail how the team will create the desired outcome but, of course, discretion precludes divulging those details here. It was noted, however, that air cylinders and pneumatics would be elements incorporated into the robot.

“All the stuff they’re doing – all these plans – are on them,” Smalley said. “I’m just here to guide them with whatever they come up with.”

groupThe team meets to build from 3:30 to about 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, and from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday. Meets are scheduled for March 14-16 at Gull Lake High School, March 28-30 at Shepherd High School, and April 4-6 at Forest Hills High School. Smalley said the match in Shepherd will be especially exciting, because Clare, Harrison, Beaverton and Gladwin schools will face each other for the first time in the same meet since the schools have had robots.

Anyone who is mechanically capable and interested in helping the Harrison Stingers of Steel team pursue its robotics quest is urged to call Smalley at 989-418-1730 or email to:

To purchase team merchandise, which is posted as available until Feb. 8, visit

“They can just message us through that post, and we can get ahold of them personally to get their order,” Smalley said. “Purely out of funding reasons, we usually do two competitions. This year we’ve added a third competition, and that’s what this second round of selling apparel is – for food, hotel rooms, etc. It’s pricey for hotel rooms for upwards of 30 people for two nights.”

Stingers of Steel will be at the Harrison Street Fair

Stingers of Steele


August 9, 2018

The Stingers of Steel will be at the Harrison Street Fair August 24 & 25, downtown Harrison.

Come see them and learn about the program and what “Lucille” can do!


Street Fair
 “Harrison Robotics at 2017 Harrison Street Fair”



Harrison Robotics Team Kicks Off the Season

July 12, 2018

2018 Harrison Fourth of July Parade
3rd Place Best Use of Theme: HHS Stingers of Steel (Beauty & the Beast)












June 21, 2018

Robotics Team WOWs School Board
Robot Lucille, Entourage Fill Board Room


By Dianne Alward-Biery
Cleaver Staff Writer

Copyright Clare County Cleaver

HARRISON – The Harrison High SRoboticschool Stingers of Steel Robotics team nearly filled the room at the June 11 Board of Education meeting: so much so, that additional chairs had to be placed to accommodate the unusually large crowd. The students were accompanied by Joel Woolston, mechanical adviser; Kevin Smalley, electrical adviser; and Doug Beavers, technical adviser.

They also brought the star of the whole shebang, Lucille – or more technically, Robot No. 6642.

Programmer/driver Dakota Bennett was in charge of the joy stick and guided Lucille as she demonstrated her agile forward and backward spins, and elevator lift capabilities – complete with flashing indicator lights.

Smalley explained that the low base of the robot was reused this year, but all else was built new by the students.

Robotics2“We try to reuse the base whenever we can,” he said. “We did add a second drive motor to each side, because we found we were overpowered by some of our competitors last year. Everything from where the stanchions are mounted up is changed every year.”

He said the teams who participate in the FIRST Robotics Competition program do not know until January what the robot design requirements will be, because they’re changed every year. Thus, the 42-day building period does not begin until then.

Woolston introduced all the team members present and spoke with great appreciation for the sponsors who had supported Harrison Robotics: The Clare County Cleaver, Jay’s Sporting Goods, Federal Broach, Alro Steel and Hoggers.

“I can’t say enough about the Cleaver,” Woolston said. “Angie’s just been amazing. She’s going to work with our kids and teach them how to write something to put in the paper – she wants something in there weekly. Hogger’s is another one, Federal Broach, Alro Steel. We had Jay’s last year … Jay’s has always been very generous and we’ve had the bake sales at Jay’s. We’re looking for as many as possible.”

He also said there is a group of students who are willing to go out with adults associated with the team and speak at board meetings to better inform the community.

Beavers spoke of the many hours put in by graduating senior Dakota Bennett to design the programming needed to operate the robot.

“It’s going to be hard not having Dakota there as a student next year,” Beavers said.

“We have the best tech support, by far,” Woolston said. “We go to these things and Doug and Kevin are phenomenal. They’ve got these kids ready, and everybody at the competition helps everybody.”

A slide presentation of the team’s 2018 competitions illustrated the enthusiasm of the participants and the excitement of the events. It also spoke to the spirit that runs through the robotics competitors, and to the fact that these are not play-it and forget-it sporting events, but rather huge gatherings where all teams are there “for” all the other teams. A subtitle on one of the slides said it well: “It isn’t just a club, it’s an experience.”

Trustee Roger Peterson urged the team to put together a video and put it up online so more people in the community could learn about what their group is doing and to spur more interest, and maybe more financial support. He also offered to help them set up on a public domain website.

Board Treasurer Chad Hathcock noted that he is part of the Clare Community Foundation and urged the team to seek out financial support through that organization.

The Robotics team was given hearty congratulations by the Board for its efforts and accomplishments – and Lucille rolled out of the spotlight.

April 4, 2018

Harrison High School robotics team gearing up for another competition this weekend

April 6 and 7 at Battle Creek Lakeview High school. They would also like to give a shout out to our very helpful and wonderful sponsors; Clare County Cleaver, Federal Broach & Machine Co., Hogger’s Custom Signs & Design, Jay’s Sporting Goods, Michigan Works, J & G Auto, and Northern Stop & Shop.

We are hoping for a great turnout for our second competition. Each department such as the Mechanics, Electricians, Programmers, Pit Crew, and our great Leaders have all come together in a very short amount of time to make a fantastic robot perform multiple tasks to take us to the top. We are looking forward to a successful competition. Thank you all.

Team 6642


March 1, 2018

Harrison Robotics Ready to Compete 

The Harrison Stingers of Steel team is getting ready for its 2018 season in a “Retro Gaming” kind of way -- the theme for this years competition. The team is headed to Waterford Mott High school March 8 to set up the pit for Lucille [the “robot” in robotics] and get her weighed in and ready to roll.  March 9 and 10 will be two days full of competing and allying with other teams, in hopes to work their way to the top.

Team No. 6642 would like to show appreciation to its biggest supporters.  Team members say they could not have made it to competition without the help and support from the Clare County Cleaver, Hogger’s Custom Sign and Design, Jay's Sporting Goods, Federal Broach and Machine Co., Alro Steel, J & G Auto Clinic, Northern Stop & Shop, Michigan Works, their parents, families, mentors, coach, and the entire Hornet Nation of their mascot, peers, staff, administration and community. They look forward to proudly representing Hornet Nation.

Their next date and location is Satruday and Sunday, April 6-7 at Lakeview High School in Battle Creek. Both competitions are from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, and 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

Connect with them on social media, Facebook page, Snap Chat, or the Blue Alliance app where a live feed is available.

January 11, 2018

Harrison High Robotics Start of a great season!
Harrison Robotics team at Bulloch Creek High School


On Saturday, Jan. 6, the Harrison Stingers of Steel went to Bullock Creek High School for the kickoff event to start off another great season of robotics. Team 6642 wants to thank Bullock Creek High School for being so accommodating. It was standing room only in the auditorium with around 200 or more people watching the kickoff event. 

The team was excited to find out that the theme this year is retro gaming. A live video of First Headquarters in New Hampshire was shown. It was a magical experience for all the rookie teams and the newest of the Harrison Stingers of Steel. Now the team has 6 weeks to get their robot Lucille ready for competition.  

Fall 2017

The Cleaver is a “Hornet Pride” Level Sponsor of the Harrison Robotics Team.

Robotics team No. 6642 at Harrison High School has been busy preparing for their upcoming season. 

In addition to fundraising they have been volunteering and getting involved in the community as their way of giving back.  On Saturday, Nov. 4 they helped with the Nutrition Network monthly food distribution.  Several members of the team served guests at the Hope Pregnancy Center’s benefit dinner on Oct. 24. Other team members helped with Fall yard clean-up for Veterans.  The team is grateful for the support of the community and wants to give back their time and energy.

In October, the team held a welcome dinner for all new members and their families.  Since this is the second year of team this was their first Kick-off Dinner where families and team members could meet each other and make plans for a successful season.

Throughout the summer the team held car wash and bake sale fundraisers in addition to making an appearance at the Harrison Street Fair with the star of their show-the robot! They have asked local businesses for sponsorships to cover their expenses of supplies, materials and competitions.  Sponsorships are being accepted until Nov. 10.

Robotics Team


Robotics Team Bake Sale   Robotics volunteering at food giveawa