About Us

RoboVikes was born of an idea from technology teacher Joe Slifka at LaBrae Middle School. In 2012, the 6th and 7th grade classes learned basic programming and building skills using the Lego Mindstorms NXT kits that were already in the class. "I'd used these briefly when I was in the engineering program during my freshman year at YSU and may have oversold my technical skills just a bit during the interview process when applying for the LaBrae position," Slifka chuckled. After that first year of teaching (and re-learning) how to program with the NXT kits, he knew this was where he belonged.

After putting out some feelers among the students, an eager group of 7th graders convinced Slifka to stay after school one night a week so they could play with the robots they made for class for just a bit longer. Seeing how much they enjoyed working on other build projects and wanting to expand the class to include 8th grade students from the middle school, Slifka knew he would need more equipment. He wrote and earned a sizable grant from the Toshiba For America Foundation to purchase twenty four new Lego Mindstorms EV3 kits as well as the EV3 Expansion kits. This literally doubled the amount of robot kits in Slifka's room!

It was decided that the club would compete at a local robotics competition held at YSU the following year hosted by the Northeast Ohio Robotics Education Program (NEOREP). A logo was created and t-shirts were made...we were "officially" a robotics team!


...and now!

After a pleasing performance at our first NEOREP tournament, we were hooked! The following year, we competed at the 2016 NEOREP tournament with two teams, our core group of now 8th graders and our sole freshman and two freshly recruited juniors. Our first foray into the high school level of competition provided further validation for our club after the truly rookie team of high school students won the whole tournament!

It was at this point that the true vision of what Slifka envisioned the RoboVikes could/should/would become. A logo redesign devised to shift perception of the RoboVikes as just an after school club that utilized Lego pieces as a building medium to a more holistic approach to solving challenges using technological solutions as well an emphasis placed on "LaBrae Robotics" as a name for our organization helped to pave the way for where we are today and where we plan to be in the future.