County Seat Newspaper
of Clare County

HHS Stingers of Steel Team Readies New Robot

FIM Competition Slated for March 9-11


HARRISON – The Stingers of Steel, Harrison High School’s robotics team, welcomed the community Saturday, March 4 to meet the team and learn about how the group works. While the intent had been to inform more of the community, most of those who attended were affiliated in some way with the team members, or had longtime history as educators. Still, the information provided and the team members’ enthusiasm could have easily satisfied a far more sizeable crowd.

First established in the 2016-2017 school year, the team has eagerly taken on all the challenges presented by FIRST Robotics, the governing body which establishes each year’s set of tasks the robots must accomplish in competition. The first HHS Robot 6642, with a blue bumper and named Lucille, underwent multiple iterations over time. As with so many extracurricular activities/clubs, the pandemic stalled robotics competitions for a couple years, but the Stingers of Steel jumped back in strong last year. That drive brought them through competitions, and on to taking 1st Place in the 2022 First in Michigan District Midland Event.

Saturday’s “Meet the Stingers of Steel” event was intended as an opportunity to show the community what these kids have built and what they can do with their robot. However, recent snow days prevented planned trial runs and adjustments, so it also became a practical troubleshooting opportunity. The original Lucille robot has been retired, and this year’s newly-built robot [whose bumper is red, and is thus far nameless] needed to go through some expected tweaking. It started out strong, responsively rolling around the stations set up in the HHS cafeteria. Difficulty arose when it came to hoisting and placing the cube and cone payloads.

Difficulties persisted and, ultimately, the robot was hoisted to a stand for examination and adjustments. Such interruptions are not considered failings by the team, but rather opportunities to learn and grow. That is basically what robotics strives to do: enable learning from mentors and teammates, all while instilling the importance of helping others, and cooperating even while in competition. These goals stem from the FIRST vision: “To transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders.”

This falls hand-in-hand with the robotics mission statement: “The mission of FIRST is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.”

This year’s nine-member team includes lone graduating sophomore Nathan Young (team captain and driver), senior Vincent Brazier (operator, lead programmer), junior Melissa Jacobs (safety captain), sophomore Jayden Stillion (mechanical team lead), sophomore Jacob Bowermaster (public relations), sophomore Airieana Peel (electrical captain), freshman Jacub Elliott (mechanical team), junior Logan Bartels (programming, safety, mechanical), and freshman Caleb Durga (build team, mechanical).

Harrison Middle School has begun its own foray into robotics with its RoboHornets team. Additionally, three of the middle-schoolers are apprenticing with the Stingers of Steel team: Aiden Morse, Eli Wing and Kayden Hendren.

Of course, there would be no growth through mentoring without those mentors, who include: Kevin Smalley (programming mentor, team coach) Jeremy Williams (mechanical/electrical mentor), Emerson Corder (mentor), Doug Young (build team, mentor), and Anthony Lane (alumni mentor).


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