“To create a world where science and technology are celebrated…where young people dream of becoming science and technology heroes” – FIRST founder, Dean Kamen
Mission Statement of FIRST: Our 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.
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an exciting, international robotics program designed to inspire students and encourage the pursuit of careers in science, technology, and engineering. Founded in 1989 by DEKA inventor Dean Kamen FIRST has made a great impact on the lives of students at many schools since.
FIRST is comprised of five key programs:
- FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC): a high school level robotics competition that builds a robot in six weeks with the help of professionals
- FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC): another high school program for mid-level low budget teams
- FIRST LEGO League (FLL): a program that uses LEGO MINDSTORMS technology to build a fully autonomous robot for children ages 9-14
- Jr. FIRST LEGO League (Jr. FLL): a simpler version of the FLL program for children ages 6-9
- FIRST Place: science and technology center/hands-on children’s museum
In addition to annually building a competition robot, FIRST teams uphold gracious professionalism, the principal moral value of FIRST, teaching valuable business ethics and skills to the leaders of tomorrow. The concept behind gracious professionalism is treating people with respect, being friendly, and maintaining a positive attitude overall. Students and adults are encouraged to lend a helping hand to teams in need, without expecting anything in return. An often-used saying while teaching gracious professionalism is “act as though your grandmother were watching.” The main goal of gracious professionalism is to teach others that, while there may be opponents in FIRST, there are no enemies.
Another key aspect of the FIRST program is the idea of “coopertition,” which combines a fun and competitive sporting event with cooperation and good sportsmanship. Combined with gracious professionalism, teams are always respectful, courteous, and helpful to others, on and off the playing field.