Gail Vawter (Co-founder and Camp Director) holds degrees in Computer Science and Economics from Denison University as well as an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan. She has worked in the Information Technology industry for over 20 years. As a teacher and coach of student science teams, she has won numerous national and global awards with FIRST Lego League (FLL), NSTA/Toshiba ExploraVision, Christopher Columbus Awards, NASA Space Day, US Army’s eCybermission, National Gallery for Young Inventors, and more. Her team’s inventions were recognized by the Ohio Senate and Ohio House of Representatives. She is an employee of The Wellington School of Upper Arlington where she teaches and robotics and coaches FLL and National Robotics Challenge teams (her 2016 teams won 1st place titles at various tournaments). Gail also judges for FLL and other National competitions, teaches Lego Robotics after-school programs, and has fun providing students with fun and rewarding experiences.
Michael Vawter (Co-founder and Technology Director) was the mastermind behind the MindStorm Troopers' robots that won first place in the FIRST Lego League in ’05 and ’06 out of 10,000 teams from 39 countries. He has been featured in Popular Science Magazine, Columbus CEO Magazine and the National Gallery for Young Inventors for his work with robotics and education. A Denison graduate, he has published peer-reviewed psychophysics research and is now working on his MBA degree in Entrepreneurship.
Kara Crowley. (Classroom Manager) is a 3rd teacher at Darby Woods Elementary School with 10 years teaching experience and 5 years experience with running Robotics after-school program. Mrs. Crowley presented locally, state-wide and even at the National Science Teachers Association conference in Boston about starting a robotics club at a title one low income school. Mrs. Crowley won COSI teacher of the year, the American Wilderness School scholarship, as well as numerous awards from her school district. In fact, she has accomplished the highest rating possible in the public school. Mrs. Crowley traveled to over 20 countries and has been to 6 out of 7 continents. She was awarded a full ride trip to Shark Bay, Australia from The National Science Foundation to help with research on sharks in the ecosystem. Mrs. Crowley has a true passion to bring STEM education to low income students and young girls.
Ashton Cofer. (Master Robot Genius) attends Columbus Academy high school. He is like Anakin Skywalker from Star Wars Episode 1... he can fix ANY Lego robot in the world. Ashton has 5 years of experience competing in FIRST LEGO League on the Incredibots team, and his team has had much success around the world, including winning the 1st Place Champions Award at the 2016 FLL World Championship, and 2nd Place Champions Award at the 2014 Open European Championship. Ashton also has 6 years of experience teaching robotics workshops at local schools, science museums, scouting groups, and public events. He has won several national STEM competitions with his team and presented at the 2015 and 2016 White House Science Fairs. Overall, Ashton loves working with robots and enjoys sharing it with others!
Gina Clepper. (Master Robot Genius) Gina is studying Engineering at Purdue University and is a true Robot Genius. In middle school, she won numerous FIRST LEGO League tournaments: 2009 and 2011 Ohio State Championship; 2009 FLL World Championship Finalist; 2011 North American Open Tournament (2nd place Robot Performance and 2nd place Research Award). In high school, she was the 2014 Buckeye Regional finalist with FIRST Robotics Competition and the 2014 Grand Prize winner with MoonBots (Lego Robots). She has also led various robotics workshops and been a counselor for Camp Invention. She loves STEM and teaching others, but most of all she loves seeing crazy, creative ideas turn into reality!
Savannah Cofer. (Master Robot Genius) graduated from Columbus Academy and is attending Rice University for Engineering. She has the 'magic touch' with Lego Robots. Savannah mentors the Incredibots team that won the 1st Place Champions Award at the 2016 FIRST Lego League World Championship. For the past 9 years, she has won numerous awards at the state and international level in both FIRST LEGO League and the FIRST Tech Challenge. Savannah and her teammates won the Google Lunar X PRIZE MoonBots Challenge in 2014 and were national winners or finalists of several STEM competitions including the Conrad Spirit of Innovation Awards and the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair. Savannah was invited to the 2016 White House Science Fair to honor her achievements with Conrad Spirit of Innovation Awards. Savannah loves mentoring younger teams, teaching robotics workshops, and of course building wicked cool robots.
Varun Vallabhaneni. (Master Robot Genius) graduated from Columbus Academy and is attending the University of Pennsylvania. He competed in FIRST Robotics for 7 years with the Incredibots, in which his team competed all over the world including the World Festival, North American Championship, and European Open Championship. During his last season, the team placed 2nd at the European Open Championship in Barcelona, Spain. He participated in the First Tech Challenge for three years in high school, and he has been one of the team co-captains. His team placed in the top 24 teams at the World Festival and have competed at numerous state championships. In 2014, his team won the Google Lunar X PRIZE Moonbots Challenge, and along with numerous national/international STEM awards in science research and entrepreneurship including the Conrad Foundation to the American Society for Engineering Education and the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair. Earlier this year, his team was invited to exhibit at the 2016 White House Science Fair as a result of his experience with materials science research. Robotics has been an integral part of his life, and he loves mentoring other robotics teams and sharing his passion/experiences with younger kids when it comes to robotics and science!
Matthew Retchin. (Robot Genius) graduated from Columbus Academy and is attending Columbia University. At Columbus Academy, Matthew took a robotics course and earned his team second place in the class competition as one of the team's programmers, in addition to handling some building responsibilities. He won Grand Prize in the Virginia State Science & Engineering Fair, and he won Best of Category in Computational Biology and Bioinformatics at the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair. Matthew is passionate about getting creative with programming and technology.
Licensed Teachers - With a teacher : student ratio of 1:6, Robot Academy has numerous licensed teachers from local school districts with their teacher's certification and full background check. All Adult Instructors have a cleared background check. Teachers at our camps are especially helpful with classroom management and assist the student.