FIRST®'s mission is 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.
"The varsity sport for the mind" FIRST® Robotics Competition combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. Under strict rules, limited resources, and time limits, teams of 25 students or more are challenged to raise funds, design a team "brand", hone teamwork skills, and build and program robots to preform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. It's as close to "real-world engineering" as a student can get. Volunteer professional mentors lend their time and talents to guide each team.
FIRST® Tech Challenge is designed for those who want to compete head to head, using a sports model. Teams of up to 10 students are responsible for designing and programming their robots to compete in an alliance format against other teams. The robot kit is reusable from year-to-year and is programmed using a variety of languages. Teams, including coaches, mentors, and volunteers are required to develop a strategy, and build robots based on sound engineering principals. Awards are given for competition as well as for community outreach, design, and other real-world accomplishments.
FIRST® LEGO® League introduces younger students to real-world engineering by building LEGO®-based robots to complete tasks on a thematic playing surface. FLL® teams, guided by their imaginations and adult coaches, discover exciting career possibilities and, through the process, learn to make positive contributions to society.
The newest program in FIRST® introduces the youngest students to the exciting world of science and technology. Just like FLL®, this program features a real-word challenge to be solved by research, critical thinking, and imagination. Guided by adult coaches, students work with LEGO® elements and moving parts to create solutions and present them for review.
Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST® designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With the support of many of the world's most well-known companies, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST Robotics Competition and FIRST® Tech Challenge for high-school students, the FIRST® LEGO® League for children 9-14 years old, and the Junior FIRST; LEGO® League for 6 to 9 year-olds. Since its beginning, FIRST® has had a positive impact on students and academic communities. Participating high-school juniors and seniors are eligible to apply for $9.7 million in scholarships from leading universities, colleges, and companies.
Dr. Woodie Flowers, FIRST® National Advisor and Pappalardo Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, coined the term "Gracious Professionalism." Gracious Professionalism is part of the ethos of FIRST®. It's a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. With Gracious Professionalism, fierce competition and mutual gain are not separate notions. Gracious professionals learn and compete like crazy, but treat one another with respect and kindness in the process. They avoid treating anyone like losers. No chest thumping tough talk, but no sticky-sweet platitudes either. Knowledge, competition, and empathy are comfortably blended. In the long run, Gracious Professionalism is part of pursuing a meaningful life. One can add to society and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing one has acted with integrity and sensitivity.
Coopertition produces innovation. At FIRST®, Coopertition is displaying unqualified kindness and respect in the face of fierce competition. Coopertition is founded on the concept and a philosophy that teams can and should help and cooperate with each other even as they compete. Coopertition involves learning from teammates. It is teaching teammates. It is learning from mentors. And it is managing and being managed. Coopertition means competing always, but assisting and enabling others when you can.