POLYMER PRODUCTS GROUP of Owosso Township has donated a metal lathe to the Corunna Robotics team. The lathe will be used to fabricate parts for robots the team will design and create this summer and throughout the 2018-2019 school year and beyond. Dan Clayton, the lead engineer for Polymer Products Group, visited the Corunna Robotics lab on Tuesday, March 27 to see the team in action during practice.
Polymer Products Group, Inc. has been in business for more than 30 years. The local plastic fabrication company specializes in product development, testing and manufacturing of complex plastic parts.
Shown standing in front of the lathe during practice on March 27 are (from left) Team FridgeBot members Daniel Brichan, team leader, and Noah Dutcher, lead machinist; coach Scott Stap; Dan Clayton; Devon Bates, Team FridgeBot’s lead programmer; and Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership President/CEO Justin Horvath, who facilitated the donation.
(Independent Photo/Graham Sturgeon)
by Graham Sturgeon, co-editor
Team FridgeBot, the Corunna High School robotics team, is led by coach Scott Stap and mentor Kevin Dutcher and consists of approximately 12 high school students. The team – Shiawassee County’s first – was created in 2013 and began competing in FIRST In Michigan (FIM) robotics events in 2014.
After learning in early January the type of robot they would be building this season, the team spent roughly two months designing and creating a complex robot, along with a fully functional backup robot. The students welded, fabricated, wired and programmed, with some team members devoting more than 200 hours of after school build time since January.
While skill and manpower are rarely in short supply for Team Fridgebot Coach Scott Stap, the team’s most daunting task is usually figuring out how to generate funding and obtaining the specialized tools they require. Stap estimates the team has spent $3,700 creating its two robots. On top of that, teams pay $5,000 at the beginning of the season for a build kit and entrance into two FIM district events. The teams that qualify for the state competition must then pay another $4,000 to compete, on top of travel and lodging expenses.
With a baseline cost of nearly $9,000 per season, it is safe to say that Team FridgeBot has had to get creative in its fundraising efforts over the years. They take advantage of any available grants and funding from the school system, but they have worked hard to make up the difference; collecting soda cans, gathering and selling outdated school equipment and holding yard sales. They have also been working with Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership President/CEO Justin Horvath, who specializes in putting people together in times of need and opportunity.
When the team has a need, be it gathering funds, establishing relationships with local businesses, or locating and obtaining equipment and supplies, Horvath has used his contacts and dot-connecting skills to put the team in touch with the right people.
One of those people is Dan Clayton, the lead engineer with the Polymer Products Group, which recently came through with the donation of a metal lathe. Team members did not waste any time in acclimating themselves with their newest “toy.” In the days after receiving the lathe from the Polymer Products Group, team members experimented with its threading capabilities, and lead machinist Noah Dutcher used it to fabricate a pin to hold one of the team’s supply cupboards closed.
The Corunna robotics team is in the midst of its 2018 competitive season, having finished sixth out of 40 teams in its first competition of the season in early March at Kettering University. They will next compete in Sault Ste. Marie at the FIM Lake Superior State University Event on Thursday, April 5. Should the team fare well, they would qualify for the FIRST Michigan State Championship in Saginaw, which will begin Wednesday, April 11.
If that is the case, the team has a whole lot more fundraising in its future. To assist the Corunna robotics team, individuals can contact Scott Stap by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.