Robotics team wins state championship and heads to world championship

Team members and coaches pose with Barry Boznak, Lockheed Martin Engineer/FIRST Alumni/Mentor/EmCee, holding the Inspire Award Banner after the FIRST Tech Challenge Florida State Championship at the AdventHealth Field House in Winter Haven.

Fort Myers based FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) robotics team, Java The Hutts, has advanced to the world championship to be held in Houston, Texas, on April 17 – 20.

Java The Hutts won the overall first place Inspire Award which earns the top bid  of the four allocated to Florida teams to advance to the world championship. This achievement marks their second qualification for the World Championship, having previously advanced and won the World Champion title in April 2022.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a global robotics  community with teams spread across over 100 countries, with primary focus on advancing  STEM education. FIRST Tech Challenge is a category of robotics competition developed by FIRST for students ages 12 to 18. Teams design, build, and program a robot to compete in an alliance format against other teams. The 2023 – 2024 FIRST Tech Challenge CenterStage competition is primarily sponsored by RTX (previously known as Raytheon Technologies).

Prior to the state championship, Java The Hutts competed in three regional meets leading up  to the Gulf Coast Robotics League Championship in which the team won the Inspire Award for and ranked as one of the highest-performing robots in the league. The Inspire Award is given to  the team that is a top contender for many other judged awards and is a gracious competitor.

Java The Hutts  has been busy this season not only building and programming their top-notch robot but also conducting extensive outreach including assisting and mentoring many other local FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST LEGO League teams, donating robotics kits and running robotics clubs at various locations including the Bonita Springs YMCA, conducting robotics summer camps for local students, showcasing FIRST programs and  robotics at various local events, STEM advocacy, and spreading STEM throughout the community and beyond, with international outreach in countries such as South Africa, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Australia, and Cypress.

Java The Hutts’ current team members are from eight different schools in Lee and Collier  counties: Fort Myers High School (Dhruva Sharma), Bonita Springs High School (Robbie  Stewart, dual enrolled at FGCU), Dunbar High School (Advaith Menon, Nishini Fernando), FSW  Collegiate High School (Delaney Baucom), Dunbar Middle School (Nash Baucom), Canterbury  School (Dhira Sharma), First Baptist Academy (Jacob Adams, Daniel Rashid), Mason Classical  Academy (Almira Pratasenia, Nikolai Pratasenia). SWFL Tech (previously the Southwest Florida Regional Technology Partnership) is the non-profit sponsor of the team. Since the founding of  the team six years ago, the main goal has always been to spread awareness of robotics and encourage more students to be involved with FIRST robotics programs. They have  accomplished this by inspiring several new FIRST Tech Challenge robotics teams in Southwest  Florida and working to assist and mentor other existing teams at all levels.

“We are thrilled and honored to represent Southwest Florida at the world c

hampionship once  again,” stated Robbie Stewart. “Our journey has been defined by hard work, collaboration, and  relentless dedication. Reaching this milestone reaffirms our commitment to excellence and  inspires us to continue pushing the boundaries of innovation.”

To learn more about Java The Hutts, and their impact in Southwest Florida, visit