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.


Chris Sulzbach
(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 and works with our graphic design and marketing students.

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


Sawyer Brooks

Robotics Engineering Mentor

Sawyer is a member of the Robotic Manipulation and Sampling Group at NASA JPL.

As a software engineer at JPL, Sawyer develops arm software for the Mars 2020 rover and for the Mars Sample Return campaign. He also led the development of Limbi, a self-mobile robotic limb for in-space assembly.


Noel Csomay-Shanklin

Robotics Engineering Mentor

Control and Dynamical Systems Graduate Student Researcher at Caltech. I am captivated by the unique way in which robotics combines mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and computer science concepts to a powerful and unprecedented effect, and I am enthralled by the idea of pushing robotic capabilities to the brink of what is possible.


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>