The Theresa Sondra Jacobs Foundation’s focus is on education, with our new mobile classroom (ECO-CREST) that is currently under construction (completion expected fall of 2022), this vehicle will be 30 feet long and equipped with five work stations (5 inside and 2 outside) featuring our unique animatronic I-ARTS Program (Interactive Astromech Robotic Teaching System). This teaching program will be used in the STEAM programs to teach children the wonders of robotics, animatronics, programming, solar energy, solar energy, fabrication, prop building and art through Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM). The TSJ Foundation STEAM I-ARTS mobile classroom delivers a very unique and exciting intergalactic mobile themed experience using animatronics and themed vehicles to excite children into learning. This unique educational program features innovative ways to teach children how the robot from the child’s favorite movies. This program will be used at schools, hospitals, afterschool programs, camps, etc., to teach the children about the different subjects in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM).

STEAM Education combines science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics to learn, explore, and solve problems in new ways.

Many people remember my mother as a teacher, she taught in Northern Virginia for three decades and retired at Lake Braddock. With her background as an educator, the Theresa Sondra Jacobs Foundation is also focusing on Education.

With the emphasis on education with children and adults with special needs, battling cancer, and those who are underprivileged and have financial disadvantages; we are working with our amazing volunteers and building the Interactive Astromechs Robotic Teaching System (I-ARTS).

More about our I-ARTS Program

The I-ARTS program will also be used in the STEAM programs and will be used to educate children and adults with special needs, battling cancer, and those who are underprivileged and have financial disadvantages the wonders of  Robotics and prop building, through Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics. In addition to schools, the Theresa Sondra Jacobs Foundation is planning to bring this teaching system into hospitals to help those as well who have these needs. The special design of this system will allow children and adults in wheelchairs to see up close how these robotic systems work.  It is most important for everyone to receive the benefits of the I-ARTS program and share our intergalactic learning experience.

These interactive teaching tools that we build help fuel our mission to create an experience for children and adults who are battling cancer, serious illnesses, have special needs, challenges, and who have financial disadvantages.

To fulfill this mission, the TSJ Foundation has teamed up with the most talented group of Astromech/droid and prop builders to build the I-ARTS program.  This program is designed to help children of all ages and skill levels understand the amazing world of robotics and building the props that we use to entertain those in need. In addition, the TSJ Foundation has partnered with the Hampton Road Droid Builders Club and their amazing volunteers.  This partnership allows us to complete the I-ARTS program to a level so amazing for children.  For more information, check out the Hampton Road Droid Builders Club! 

Meet Our Builders

Felix Tao

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. 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.

Matthew Hammer

Matt is an experienced Droid builder and founder of the Hampton Roads Droid Builders.  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.

David Ferreira

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.

Jon Haag

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.

Jakob JJ Jasin


Evan D’Antoni

Evan is a high school student who has a passion for building robots. He has been involved in robotics through interest led classes where he learned how to build and program his own robots to do specific functions, as well as robotics teams: First Tech Challenge (FTC) and more recently joining a high school First Robotics Competition (FRC) team. He is excited to help inspire other children to also find a love of STEAM in the community.

Neil Umayam

Neil is a Civil Engineer and also has a Career Day Presentation called Engineering in the Movies.  This presentation has been taught to his son’s elementary school for the past 5 years. He is also part of the international costuming group 501st Legion.

Brandon Pyle 

Brandon, or BP, is a Maker, Artist, Prop Builder, and Cosplayer. He makes custom Star Wars toy collectibles, prop blasters, & sports figures! He has drawn officially licensed work for Topps, LucasFilm, Upper Deck, Marvel Comics, Cryptozoic, Rick and Morty, Stephen Universe, and DC Comics.

His cosplay began as a creative outlet but quickly transitioned to helping those in need. Whether that be financially or simply to help brighten someone’s day.

Also, he has worked with special needs children in physical education while at The Ohio State University. BP strives to help raise funds and run books, food, and school supplies drives for those in need.

Stephen Umayam 

Stephen has been a volunteer with the TSJ Foundation for the past few years helping construct the exterior structure of Turbo Laser.  He is planning to go into the civil engineering field and has been an active member of the international costuming group 501st Legion.

Rex Doane

Rex was the lead builder in the X-1 advanced TIE fighter model. Rex Has taken several Aerospace Engineer, Robotics, and Manufacturing classes throughout High School.

Rex has had a love for building models his whole life. He is constantly tinkering and building anything and everything he can. He began tinkering in elementary school, where he and his dad would bruins their own record planes to fly. His inspiration to be a maker came from Adam Savage of Mythbusters, who also worked on various other projects such as Star Wars Episode 2.

Rex researched, designed, and built our X-1 Advanced TIE fighter model, working closely with Jesse Dill.

Eric Jacobs 

Eric is one of the 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.