FIRST (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a multinational non-profit organization to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. It aspires to transform culture, making science, math, engineering and technology as cool for kids as sports are today.
FIRST was founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway Human Transporter. FIRST operates the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) in which teams of high school students, sponsored and assisted by local companies and volunteers, design, assemble, and test a robot capable of performing a specified task in competition with other teams. FIRST also runs the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC), which offers high school students the traditional challenge of a FIRST competition, but with a more accessible and affordable parts. They also run FIRST LEGO League (FLL), for children 9-14 years old, and FIRST Place, an innovative science and technology center, including a hands-on children's science museum.
FIRST was founded on partnerships with businesses, educational institutions and the government. Many Fortune 500 companies provide funding, in-kind donations and volunteers to support the program.
The key to FIRST's success is the work of over 64,000 volunteer mentors, professional engineers, teachers, and other adults working with students across the country. In addition to the thousands of volunteer team mentors, FIRST competitions and other events were organized and staffed by over 14,000 event and committee volunteers. Through these volunteers, FIRST programs engaged over 250,000 young people during the last year. FIRST programs are growing rapidly in the United States and Canada, and demand is accelerating in other countries.
What Is It?
A unique varsity sport of the mind designed to help high-school-aged young people discover how interesting and rewarding the life of engineers and scientists can be.
How Does it Work?
The FIRST Robotics Competition stages short games played by autonomous and remote-controlled robots. The robots are designed and built in 6 weeks (from of a common set of parts) by a team of high-school-aged young people and a handful of engineers-mentors. The students remotely control the robots in competition rounds on the field. Each school year, teams are formed in the fall. The FIRST Robotics Competition Kickoff in early January starts the six-week "build" season. Competitions take place in March and April. The FIRST Robotics Competition Regional events are typically held in university arenas. They involve 40 to 70 teams, cheered by thousands of fans over the course of two and a half days. A championship event caps the season. Referees oversee the competition. Judges evaluate teams and present awards for design, technology, sportsmanship, commitments to FIRST, and many others. The Chairman's Award is FIRST's highest honor and recognizes a team that exemplifies the values of FIRST.