Charles Guan, Kyle Singer, Brian
Benson, Rob Masek, and Josh
Zimmerman! There are a few
other folks that consistently pitch
in where they can.
BD: There is a lot of stuff
that you need to have an event.
Where do you keep it all?
EM: The 16’ arena lives on a
trailer, currently in Jim’s driveway.
The rest of the paraphernalia
(scales, computers, clocks, etc.)
lives in my garage in a few totes.
The 8’ arena lives in a trailer in
my driveway. The big arena was
built by Rob Masek around 2005.
It takes a crew of about 10
working on and off for 16 hours
to set the big arena up. The
small arena was built by Rob and
Eric Scott in 2004, and goes up
in a few minutes.
Maintenance is handled as
needed during setup normally,
unless there are major repairs.
Then, we’ll schedule a day to get
a few folks together to work on
The original arena — which
was an 8’ x 8’ box four feet tall
similar to the small arena we still
use today — was paid for by
member donations and out of
pocket. NERC has been fortunate
that we are able to run on a very
low budget. We keep a low
overhead. Since then, we’ve
mostly been able to pay for new
arenas and upgrades with income
BD: What’s the biggest
EM: Getting competitors to return
their paperwork on time. Seriously.
BD: What should folks know
EM: We’re always looking for
more folks to get involved in this crazy
hobby. We like teaching people what
we do, telling them how they can get
involved, and hey, if they learn a bit
about something along the way, even
better. I’m constantly using robotics to
teach kids about physics, or
electronics, or whatever. As long as
they keep learning.
BD: Any advice for people
considering getting an event going?
EM: It’s a lot of work, but the
payoff is immense. We all do this
because we love it and are passionate
about it. Nothing makes me happier
than seeing an event through to the
end. It’s a great feeling to know you
helped pull this crazy thing together
and gave people from all over the
country a place to compete. That
feeling lasts about an hour, then you
realize you have to do it again next
BD: NERC has been one of
the singular successes of the US
robot combat world with well-attended events (for years!),
even in the “dark” time of no TV
shows. What are some of the
factors (in your mind) that
explain/account for this success?
EM: We’ve tried hard to
keep it simple and accessible.
Participation has grown and
fallen, but we’ve been lucky to
have a dedicated group of
builders to keep us running.
NERC wouldn’t exist without the
folks that engage in this goofy
hobby. Social media has made it
slightly easier to get people
engaged — it beats standing
around at a trade show handing
For years. Yeah. I’ve been
involved going on 15 years. Beth
laughed when BattleBots™ was
on TV and they referred to one
of the teams as “Those kids
from MIT.” She said that only
she was allowed to call them that
since we’ve known them since
they actually were kids.
Folks like Ed are not only the
reason we are still fighting robots,
but contribute to the quality of
the robots we love to cheer by
hosting and organizing the small
weight class fights that form the
bulk of our calendar.
You can keep up with NERC
online at www.nerc.us.
NERC sponsored events can be
found on the website.
Robot Conflict’s extensive
Photobucket (2000 to the present)
can be found at http://s1001.photo
ary/?sort= 3&page=0. SV
SERVO 02.2017 23
Ed McCarron and the old NERC arena, May 2012.
Photo by Al Kindle.
“Minions needed.” Photo by Ken Franklin.