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TMHS to Host 2nd Annual New England Robotics Derby

Sponsors, donations sought for Oct. 14 event expected to pull in 800 robotics enthusiasts; residents invited to attend

In a few weeks, 32 robotics teams from across New England and hundreds of spectators will converge at Tewksbury Memorial High School for the second annual New England Robotics Derby — N.E.R.D.

The event will begin at 8:20 a.m. with qualification matches. After lunch, the Top 8 teams will select their elimination alliances. N.E.R.D. offers free admission, and the event is open to the public. The teams’ Battle Bots will be on display, and spectators are welcome to view the Bots and ask questions.

Proceeds from food and merch sales will benefit the Tewksbury and Billerica high school robotics programs. Organizers are looking for sponsors to help offset the costs of presenting the event.

FIRST Robotics teams are partnerships between industry and educators with the goal of exposing students to the STEM fields. Teams from all over the world are presented with a challenge in the form of a game and given eight weeks to design, build, program, and refine their designs.

FIRST, which stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,” is a global nonprofit that works to advance STEM education in schools. It was founded in 1989 by Segway inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen and has its headquarters in Manchester, NH. Beyond the robotics competition, the nonprofit provides educational resources and programs for students of all ages, such as the LEGO League Challenge aimed at 9-to-14 year olds. 

Tewksbury has participated in FIRST robotics for more than 15 years, with the challenges changing annually. In Tewksbury, eighth graders can join the TMHS Titans FRC Team 1474. Learn more.

FIRST teams operate like small businesses, and each fall, they work to train new recruits by participating in offseason events such as N.E.R.D. This training is critical for the fast-paced winter/spring build season, and learnings enable teams to continue to innovate and push the envelope in their competitions.

Many teams are run by volunteer mentors with day jobs working in industry. Mentors have diverse backgrounds, from accounting and marketing to mechanical and electrical engineering. Students compete for more than $20 million in college scholarships. Reps from UMass Lowell, UMass Dartmouth, University of Southern Maine, Western New England and Merrimack College will attend the Oct. 14 event.

“Robotics is the only sport where every kid can go pro,” says Kamen. “There is a job out there for every one of these students.”

Residents are invited to come by and check out the robots. Sponsorships are available from $50 up to a Platinum level. Organizers also welcome in-kind donations of plywood, hardboard or luan to protect the gym floor from the robots; gaffers tape to mark the playing field; cable ties of all sizes; and event lighting services.

To learn more about sponsorships, make a donation of goods or ask questions, please contact Blake Bourque at

Lorna is a U.S. Army veteran and 25-year resident of Tewksbury who has written for organizations ranging from the DIA to InformationWeek to a free weekly in New London that sent her to interview the pastry chef at Foxwoods.

One Comment

  1. […] See high school teams from around New England and New York compete in the New England Robotics Derby at Tewksbury Memorial High School. This all day event is co-hosted by Billerica and Tewksbury high school robotics teams, the Bionics and the Titans. Learn more here. […]

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