Felix has worked as an electro-mechanical engineer in the aerospace industry for over a decade and a half and has a background in electrical engineering, mechanical design, software engineering, and testing. He has worked on missions such as the Hubble replacement JWST for NASA, HTV4 supply vehicle for JAXA delivering a payload to the international space station, Jason3 a NOAA mission to monitor ocean floor depths for earlier warning of tsunamis, and many more missions in the civilian space arena. Focusing mostly space to ground communication systems in his career, he carries his knowledge into his various hobbies.
When not working in a lab you can find Felix working on building costumes and props used for various conventions or volunteer events including many props for the TSJ Foundation, he designed the Turbo Laser seen in the video below and many other props. His love of Star Wars has also led him to organizations such as the 501st Legion who participate for various events such as charity events or just cheering up children going through a hard time through the use of Star Wars character costumes as well as the Theresa Sondra Jacobs Foundation who build experiences through the uses of props to bring smiles to children and adults of all ages and circumstances. Felix is the Chief Technology Officer for the TSJ Foundation and designs many of the STEAM programs.
Matt is an experienced Droid builder and founder of the Hampton Roads Droid Builders. Matt is also the Chief Operations Officer of the TSJ Foundation. Matt has training as a biomedical equipment technician and grew up building boats and computers with his father. He retired from the army due to wounds sustained in Iraq and found droid building in 2010 and built several r series (R2) and founded the Hampton Roads R2 Builder’s club. For years it was just him and would do events on his own until the release of the force awakens and BB-8. The renewal of interest had others seek out an join the club and he changed the name to the Hampton Roads Droid Builders to incorporate all the different droids; his main area of expertise is the R series but have been doing a lot of work with BB-8. He help built the Foundation’s fully functional BB-8 unit. He is currently building the R2 unit for the I-ARTS program. This R2 unit will have an extra new programming station with several different Arduino based systems. With R2 we can teach not only electrical but mechanical and optical we are planning to use a projection system to teach kids how it works. With so many different control systems including I2c, Bluetooth Wi-Fi the communications between mechanical and electrical are really well refined and for kids, watching somethings start as an electron a command and end as a physical robotic command is amazing. R2 D2 can be a basic robot or an extremely advanced, something as simple as a 3200 chip to control or to a fully functional desktop computer inside for complex response and all interactive.
Tim O’ Sullivan
Tim OSullivan is a retired military officer with 21 years of active-duty service. Tim was medically retired in 2013 for combat wounds sustained in Basra Iraq. Upon retiring from his military service he later found the therapeutic tasks of 3D printing, 3D modeling building Droids and movie related props. Tims award winning cosplay characters have placed in both San Diego Comicon and Star Wars Celebration. His builds and animatronics have since been used to support to STEAM programs, Children Hospitals, Veteran Events and Service Dog organizations. His work had also enabled him to 3D model and develop a special prosthetic that was used for a child in the Paralympics. Over the past 5 years Tims builds include C-3PO, Bistan Moroff, R2D2, BB-8, DO, Chopper, Q9-0, Life size Taun Taun bust, Animatronic Babu Frick, Animatronic Episode 1 C-3PO, Animatronic Rat Catcher bust, Animatronic Grogu and most recently earned 2nd place in 2022 Star Wars Celebration Cosplay competition in Anaheim as Bistan from Rogue One. Tim is currently building animatronic Grogu, C-3P0, Argus and Babu Frick for the TSJ Foundation Educational STEAM programs.
Rick Prince is multi-faceted Special FX artist and rising talent in the world of film-making. Former Firefighter and United States Air Force Veteran, Rick has over 25 years of experience working in film and television as well as live-event and theme park clients that include: Disney, NBC/Universal Studios, Hasbro, and the NFL Tennessee Titans. Rising to international prominence as a Special Effects Makeup Artist, Rick was featured on the SyFy Network’s series Face/Off – winner of the Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Reality Series Competition. Launching his career with first film Lwa: All Saints’ Eve as writer, producer, and director… Rick earned a multi-movie deal that included writing and producing Beast Of The Water for Rashaad Santiago, then on to be an executive producer and the animatronic puppeteer on PuppetMaster: XIII. Rick is currently producing and will direct the upcoming multi-million dollar film- The Kiamichi Project, AND he is actively creating creatures during pre-production for the new film Convergence. Serving proudly, Rick is an official member of the 501st Legion as Darth Maul. Rick is also the Art Director for the TSJ Foundation.
David has been involved in the competitive robotic world since 1996. During that time, David was able to learn and practice the skills of engineering science and technology. The robot was just a tool that brought people together. The true goal of the programs was to inspire the next generation of innovators.
Today David looks to inspire by bridging the gap between all age groups and physical abilities. (We all have a love of Star Wars, so let us show the world how it’s done) This has been the basis for his projects in recent years.
David had designed and created fully functional BB-8 units that can Interact with the public like no other. Seeing the joy and happiness BB-8 brings to the public has driven him to make more exciting droids to inspire the next generation.
Most recently David has contributed to some of the droids on the Boba Fett series and you may have seen his droid on the Star Wars Show, “Gil” RX-91L. David is also one of the TSJ Foundation full time builders and he is designing and building many of the STEAM educational programs.
Dr. Joshua Montgomery
Dr. Joshua Montgomery is a Computer Science Professor at Southern State Community College & Adjunct Instructor at Southern New Hampshire University. Montgomery has been a professor for over 10 years, and before that was the Technology Director for the Chillicothe City Schools for 13 years. He is the Curriculum Coordinator for the Ohio Coders Project, an initiative that was developed by the state of Ohio to help K-12 schools in the southern region of the state to develop coding programs and skills for students. Montgomery is the cofounder of SOMACC (Southern Ohio Makers Against COVID Coalition). This grassroots group built 4,500 3D-printed face shields for first responders at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. He is the inventor of the Droid Builders Mini-Dome, a teaching tool used to instruct students in electronics and coding by using a 50% scaled 3D printed R2-D2 dome that can be programmed to blink lights, move motors and play sounds. This project is now supported, funded and powered by the Grant Imahara Foundation.
The foundation has purchased supplies and materials for 102 students to build 72 domes for the 2021/2022 school year so students can complete the Grant Imahara Coding Challenge. This coding challenge is a supported initiative by the Ohio Coders Project and will help to further those students understanding of both electronics and coding. Montgomery is also an active member of the Star Wars builder communities.
One of his most significant accomplishments is building a replica of R2-D2, a droid from the movie Star Wars that took him 2.5 years to complete. Montgomery used that experience of building R2-D2 to change how he teaches classes at his college. He explained how building R2-D2 made him a better teacher in his Ted Talk at Dayton Ohio in 2021. Josh and his wife, Brandy, reside in Southern Ohio with their two children and 4 dogs.
Matt Hobbs is an extremely experienced Droid Builder who’s portfolio ranges from BB-8, BB9e, Mouse Droid, scrubber Droid, R2 D2, Wall-E and many more.
Matt has spent the last 11 years in support of the manufacturing and install of the sunshields onto the James Webb space telescope. He currently has 11 fully functional droids with 2 more in work. Matt Hobbs is now serving as a manufacturing engineer for Northrop Grumman.
Martin Cerame Colón
Martín Cerame Colón
A creative mind that has explored multiple forms of expression, from orchestral composition to digital graphic design, Martin has been an avid fan of science fiction and fantasy ever since he saw Star Wars in 1977. He had the fortune of being able to transfer his drawing skills from paper to screen when his father bought a Macintosh computer back in the 1980’s and allowed Martín to use it and develop his skills as a digital graphic artist as the technology evolved.
Throughout the years, Martín grew professionally as both a graphic designer and a performing and recording musician. His passion for Star Wars drove him to design set maquettes for his 3-3/4” action figures during the 90’s; maquettes that he could not get built at the time because the access to computer-controlled tools like CNC machines and laser cutters was very limited at the time.
It would take 30 years for the necessary technology to become affordable for hobbyists like Martín, who acquired his first desktop laser cutter during early 2022 and began constructing control panels based on those featured in the Star Wars films. With a keen eye for the visual language of Star Wars, Martín’s designs quickly earned the praise and respect of fellow and more experienced builders like Brian Thompson, creator of the Smugglers Room channel on YouTube and the Star Wars Room Builders Group on Facebook, who featured Martín’s work (along with other builders’) in an episode titled “Secrets of Star Wars Design”.
Martín continues to build control panels and props combining laser cut and engraved acrylic with LED elements and display screens, all of which can be seen in his Facebook and Instagram pages under the name Dune Sea Outpost.
Host of Whitey’s Wicked Workshop https://www.youtube.com/Whiteyswickedworkshop
David White has been an Electrical Engineering Technician for the past 23 years for Hydro Aluminum Extrusions, one of the largest facilities of its kind in the world, where he has specialized in PLC Controls and Safety Automation.
As a means to cope with the effects of social distancing and isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic, David took to designing and building components inspired on science fiction films to transform his basement. Using IoT (smart) devices, the self-initiated maker built an automated electromechanical door in the visual style of Star Wars. David recorded the complete process, which he edited into several instructional videos and uploaded them to his newly created YouTube channel Whitey’s Wicked Workshop hoping to inspire and help fellow sci-fi enthusiasts to engage in similar projects.
David’s propmaking endeavors continued with the build of a full-sized Millennium Falcon cockpit replica that incorporated complex features like an adjusting dashboard which lowers as much as 6 inches by means of a linear actuator to increase the viewing area of an 82” monitor, serving as both decorative prop and entertainment center. This project presented several challenges which David tackled by learning to use new tools and technologies like a laser cutter and 3-D modeling, which he used to create a version of the iconic rocker switches seen throughout Star Wars in control panels and chest plates.
Having taken his first steps in 3-D printing, David decided to continue developing his digital modeling skills. Familiar with 3-D design from his days of creating first-person shooter gaming maps using the Unreal Editor, the maker and now YouTuber started to delve deeper into the waters of 3-D modeling and, with the help of his friend and fellow maker Aedo Morin, gained proficiency with Fusion 360, a 3-D modeling program which White describes as “addictive”.
Using Fusion 360, David took his rocker switch design to its highest potential making a fully functional Star Wars-style rocker switch complete with LED accent lights and available in solid resin and translucent UV resin. David’s rocker switches have become extremely popular within the Star Wars Room Builders community and are now commonplace in many builds, including the upcoming project of the TSJ Foundation (where David was recently appointed Communications Director), the ECO Crest, which features David’s switches prominently throughout the cockpit.
As a maker, David continues to develop his craft, learning new skills and using new tools to keep up with the latest trends in propmaking. His latest projects are featured in his YouTube channel as well as his Facebook and Instagram pages (David White / Whitey’s Wicked Workshop) in addition to his Etsy and Patreon pages through which makers can acquire his build kits and original STL / SVG files. You can catch David online on the YouTube podcast FabWorks Live, which he co-hosts with fellow maker and YouTuber Aedo Morin.
Joey is an Exhibit Fabricator for COSI, a science and technology museum located in Columbus, Ohio. With a passion for science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) projects, Joey has made a name for themselves in the world of prop building.
In addition to their work at COSI, Joey also volunteers their time and skills to various charity cosplay events, including portrayals of Loki and Rocket Raccoon from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Chewbacca from Star Wars.
Their work for the TSJ Foundation’s Eco Crest project includes stand and backgrounds for an animatronic C-3PO being created by the incredibly talented Tim O’Sullivan. They will also be creating several Kowakian Monkey-Lizards with animatronic elements to add around the ship. They are both humbled and honored to be included in such an amazing STEAM outreach project.
Thomas Ira Nixon
From a young age, I’ve always been an imaginative engineer. But it wasn’t until 15 years ago that I truly embraced my creativity and began building my very first R2 droid. From that moment on, I knew that I wanted to inspire young minds to never stop dreaming and to explore the endless possibilities of creative engineering and technology.
Over the years, I’ve had the honor of visiting people from all walks of life – from children battling cancer to students in classrooms, and even at weddings and Comic-Con events. All with the key goal to inspire. I’ve built numerous droids, including three R2s, a BB8, a K2SO and even a fully functional Wall-e. Most of these were done before the availability of 3d printers. Between 2019 and 2021 my closest friend and I took on the challenge of constructing the Solo movie version of the Millennium Falcon cockpit over a two-year period, designing, constructing and 3d printing every single part. It was an incredible journey that allowed us to bring the Falcon to life. I even designed and scratch built the digital display panels as well as 3d animations.
Throughout the years, I’ve had the opportunity to design parts and accessories for cosplay artists, film productions, and special effects companies. In resent years my main mentor, who was involved with model designing and special effects in the original Star Wars trilogy, inspired me to take my creativity to the next level by making functional devices out of Star Wars props. That’s when I started calling my creations Thomas Nixons – Really2Robots. Fast forward a year later I then created my entry into the SW Andor Challenge Panel and my functional holographic display. So if there’s one thing I want you to take away from my journey, it’s this – never give up on your dreams, no matter how unconventional they may seem. With determination, creativity, and a willingness to think outside the box, anything is possible
Douglas A. Bickert
Droid Builder – inventor of the R2’s dome animation system. The Warp Core Dome System. This is the clear acrylic base plate and the circuit boards he created will help R2 launch Light Sabers, etc.
I am currently a high school senior passionate about robotics and mechatronics engineering. In the future I wish to specialize in humanoid robots and pursue a career as a robotics business leader. I wish to achieve beyond just a STEM career, major, I am excited to explore the diverse communities that are rich in networking and connect with communities all over the world. I love to learn and expand my knowledge in various areas that advance my understanding of the world.
I have had the opportunity to conduct research alongside a computer professor at George Mason University where we developed a robot path planning optimization program based on partially known areas and built behavior-correcting algorithm for robot interpretation. While I have continued to connect with professionals in the robotics field, this past summer I worked alongside a professor at Carnegie Mellon University whose focuses on actuation and legged dynamic controls. Our research proposed an alternative feedback system that favors force control to develop “squishy”-like robotics structures, analyzing the most advanced humanoid robots built in companies such as Boston Dynamics.
In addition to my efforts in working alongside field professionals, I have also founded the RoVersity Project, an introductory robotics program to engage a group of young elementary students at a local homeless shelter. Through STEM summer programs and competition experience, students explore their interests and further their knowledge in STEM that captivate their curious minds. With the support of tech companies such as Amazon and UBTech as well as partnering organizations including George Mason University, we have supported our students with milestone opportunities for them to receive a final collegiate scholarship to continue their education as first generation students.
I am dedicated and passionate about breaking down barriers for women and underrepresented minorities in STEM careers. I am excited to be apart of such a rewarding organization and build animatronics that will inspire confidence among young students in finding their passions.
Mark Borja is an skilled custom builder with amazing talent and passion for his work. He has built the TSJ Foundation “Executor” and is currently building our Mobile Classroom – the Eco Crest. Mark has decades of experience building custom cars, hydraulic systems has a deep passion for his work and helping the community. He is the TSJ Foundation’s exclusive builder for our mobile classrooms and mobile entertainment vehicles. We are very excited to have him work on all of our projects and he also volunteers at many of our events to help bring joy to all with his work.
Jon has been a lover of all things Star Wars throughout his life. Having been a member of the 501st Legion since 2016, he branched out into droid building in 2017 after attending Star Wars Celebration Orlando and seeing the many the droids on display there. Jon is heavily focused on leveraging 3D printing in the build process, having completed two iterations of his fully 3D-printed C2-B5 (the Imperial R-series droid briefly seen in Rogue One) and completed one of the latest droids in the Star Wars universe: D-0 from Episode IX. He has also built a DO for the TSJ Foundation I-ARTS program.
Jon currently serves as one of the lead members of the Hampton Roads Droid Builders, with a focus on public relations and event coordination.
Talented Builder Check out his YouTube channel The Smugglers Room and Website: Click Here
Eric is the Co-founders of the TSJ Foundation. He has a passion for Star Wars and enjoys creating new ideas to add to the Foundation’s props and builds to help entertain and teach children. He painted most of the interactive props and did the exterior design work on the Turbolaser and Falcon using his mother’s art supplies that he inherited after her passing.
After losing his mother to cancer in 2017, he, his wife, and daughter founded the Theresa Sondra Jacobs Foundation to help positively impact children and adults in need in the local community. He has been very active in the community, as the founder of the Cars and Coffee Dulles Landing, this weekly event has been an incredible platform to help raise money for other nonprofits and local and international organizations in need. Eric is also an active member of the 501st Legion, you may see him as a Tie Pilot or Darth Vader.
Eric has combined his passion for Star Wars, art design, and prop building and vehicles into the tools the foundation uses to positively impact those in need and create as many smiles across the galaxy as possible. Going forward with the focus on STEAM education and teaching, we can show young minds behind the scenes up-close look of how we create amazing props, droids, and vehicles.
Let’s build something together.