Meet Our Mentors


John Smith

Lead Mentor

John Smith is the director and founder of NEY (Neighbors Empowering Youth). He is also one of the main mentors of Team 2404. He is very much a father figure to the team members.


John has helped many youths with learning how to be a better dedicated person.


He has also helped us understand what being part of a FIRST team feels like. He makes it fun and worthwhile for the students to stay on the team. But even with all the fun, we learn at the same time how to work together with one another. He has devoted a great deal of time and a lot of money to our team.


Renee Bennett

Team Mom

Renee Bennett "also known as Momma or Team Mom'' is one of our many adults that has been a great influence and inspiration to our team. She has helped all of us find our spot in robotics, and is always looking out for us as a team, and has our best interests in mind. She has always reminded us that "Gracious Professionalism" comes first and that we must work hard if we want to succeed. We are all very grateful to have her as one of our mentors.


Chris Sulzbach chris@team2404.org
(Work Mobile) Best way to reach me  (626) 765-1392 

Lead Outreach Mentor

Chris Sulzbach is our outreach mentor he helps us run our social media pages, website, and community outreach.

Chris is always promoting our team within the local community. He was instrumental in having the local school district staff and local community leaders tour our robotics space on our kick-off day in 2019.He also helps us design most of our flyers and promotional materials. More recently, he helped us transition to virtual Zoom meetings. He is also an alumnus of our team having been a student on it from 2015-2017.


Luis Barragan

Lead Programing/3D Printing/CAD/  Mentor

BIO coming soon


Ralph Williams

A supporter of NEY's robotics program.

I am proud and grateful to support the N.E.Y. (Neighbors Empowering Youth) Team2404 FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) Program. For me too it is both an opportunity to learn and share. Over the past 9+ years I worked with NEY Founder Mr. John Smith as a NEY Board Member, Technology support and service contributor. Mr. Smith was instrumental in presenting an employment opportunity to me with (DHS/FEMA) where I have been working for the past 17+ years with Mr. Smith. I hold the position of IT/Telcom Manager, a wonderful Job, often traveling! With 25+ years in the Technology Industry. Serving as CEO of a technology company and a graduate of the Naval Technical Academy in Pensacola FL, with other specialized industry certifications. I'm well versed with Telecom, Computers, Networking, a budding programmer and joyful Geek. Lastly, I hold FCC radio (Ham) & Military radio operator Licenses. My greatest accomplishment is being a supporter of FIRST (For Inspiration & Recognition of Science and Technology); add also a humble example and supporter of our most capable Youth...My work is most often off-stage. Power-to-the-Students!  LlL <Life-long-Learner>