The FIRST Robotics Program
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded in 1989 by Inventor Dean Kamen and Professor Woodie Flowers. FIRST, a 501(c)(3) public charity, has its headquarters located in Manchester, NH. FIRST hosts the FIRST Robotics Competition, FIRST LEGO League, Junior FIRST LEGO League, and FIRST Tech Challenge competitions for kids from elementary to high school to participate in.
To create a world where science and technology are celebrated… where young people dream of becoming science and technology heroes.
– Dean Kamen, Founder
Dean Kamen’s far reaching vision defines both the FIRST competitions and programs, and is the bases for the vision of our team. Rather than focusing on competitions between teams, FIRST focuses on celebrating innovation and ingenuity. FIRST does not focus on winning a championship; instead, it focuses on building a culture where engineering is celebrated.
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 is about building a community of inspired students and mentors alike that strive to work together to build our future. FIRST is founded on the principle that motivated young people have the potential to change our world for the better. By equipping young people with the proper skills and knowledge, FIRST has potential to change the world.
FIRST also has many values that they try to instill into their program in hopes of helping to develop the characters and personalities of the next generation in STEM. These FIRST Values of Gracious Professionalism and Coopertition are meant to be shown on and off the competition field in hopes of bringing individual members and teams together under STEM.
The FIRST Robotics Competition
The FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) is an international high school robotics competition hosted annually by FIRST. In 2016, 3,140 teams, amounting up to approximately 32,598 team-affiliated attendees, competed in FRC. These teams included both high school students and mentors, who can be college students, teachers, corporate employees, or even parents.
For more statistics about the FRC program, click here.
At the beginning of each build season, each competing FRC team is given the description of the year’s game and a standard set of parts, known as the Kit of Parts, to build their robot. Teams are then given six weeks to build and program a robot for the upcoming FRC competitions, taking into account the game rules and challenges that are part of that years game. Extra parts, purchased or created separately, may be used to make the robot, but they must be bought with money each individual team has acquired through fundraising. After six weeks are over, a day and time is set worldwide for putting the robot in a large plastic bag provided in the Kit of Parts, and then the team can only make changes or fix the robot for a certain set amount of time, which is verified and signed off by the mentors of the team.
Everything during build season leads up to competition weekend. Regional competitions are three days long. The first day is set aside for practice matches and setting up the robot on the actual fields. Qualification matches are held on the second day, where teams compete in a ranked competition. The final day concludes with the elimination rounds and the awards ceremony. Each team is able to attend two regional competitions to get overall points for their team depending on how they do during these competitions. If you get enough points to be in the top percentile of all teams, then you are able to advance to the District Championships. Teams who are also part of the winning alliance or win the Chairman’s Award advance straight to the District Championships, where if you win you get to go to the FIRST Championships, which are held annually in St. Louis, Missouri.
Through FIRST, students are able to learn from professional engineers how to use sophisticated software and hardware. The overall process of building the robot also requires knowledge useful in the corporate world, with in depth knowledge about programming, electrical engineering, business management, and other STEM and non-Stem related fields. They also give the opportunity to earn a place in the World Championship, and even qualify for over $14 million in college scholarships.
Learn more about why students choose FIRST