Who we are

NE FIRST ® is the operational partner of the FIRST ® Robotics Competition in the six New England states and is supported by ingenuityNE, a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit public charity incorporated in the State of Connecticut.

Our Mission

To support the FIRST global mission “to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.”

How we do it

NE FIRST provides accessible, innovative robotics programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills.

Board Leadership

Our Board of Directors is responsible for the overall operation and oversight of ingenuityNE™. Additionally, they are responsible for coordinating the activities of our other key groups.
The Board of Directors includes:

Bob Sobolewski – President & Chair

Bob is the former President & CEO of ebm-papst Inc., in Farmington, Connecticut. He is a member of many community and industry trade organizations and associations, and has been recognized for his support of educational programs, especially those that bring schools and the workplace closer together. A graduate of Fairfield University, Bob currently serves as Chair of the Connecticut State Executive Advisory Board of FIRST, is a member of the Fairfield University School of Engineering Executive Advisory Board, a Director of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association and member of that Board’s Executive Committee, and a Director of Okay Industries, Inc.

Marie O’Brien – Vice President & Secretary

Marie recently retired from her position as President of the Connecticut Development Authority, the state agency that provides financing to encourage economic growth, business development and job creation. She previously held positions at United Technologies Corporation, including the fuel cell division of UTC Power, and Pfizer. Marie holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and an MBA from the University of Connecticut. She has been active with many state-wide civic and charitable organizations, currently serving as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Bristol Hospital, as a Trustee of the Connecticut Science Center, and as a member of the Connecticut FIRST State Executive Advisory Board.

Michael Sperber – Vice President & Treasurer

Mike is a Program Manager at UTC Aerospace Systems, a unit of United Technologies, based in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. He received his Bachelors and Masters Degrees of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Rochester, and holds a Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification from the Project Management Institute. Mike is actively involved with many volunteer and charitable organizations, including the Hartford Marathon Foundation and FIRST. He is a founding member of the Connecticut FIRST State Executive Advisory Board, a member of the CT FIRST State Operating Committee and past Chair of the FIRST Robotics Competition’s Connecticut Regional.

Regional Operations Team

Executive Director – Bruce Linton

Regional Director of Development – Marianne Monoc


Carol Scully – Regional Director
Rebecca Yankowitz – FIRST Americorps VISTA
Stacey Lynn Gray – Senior Mentor

Massachusetts & Rhode Island

Steve Cremer – Regional Director
Dana Henry – Senior Mentor

New Hampshire & Vermont

Scott Heaton – Regional Director


Karen Giles – Regional Director (Director of the Robotics Institute of Maine)