FIRST (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded by Dean Kamen in 1989 in order to provide a platform that will inspire young people to become the next generation of leaders in STEM. The FIRST family of programs consists of:
Our FIRST program runs both FTC and FRC, and we also host the district FLL tournament. These activities, however, are more than just a competition. Each program is specifically designed to address off the field performance just as much, if not more than, on the field. FIRST’s mission is to:
In Jr.FLL and FLL, there are presentations about the team’s research, robot design, and coopertition. In FTC, an engineering notebook that documents the team’s design process is required to be presented to the judges. In FRC, the most coveted award is the Chairman’s Award which goes to the team that best exemplifies FIRST. The Chairman’s Award recognizes a team that shows a genuine investment in bettering the FIRST and STEM experience for those on the team and in the community beyond the school. It is not all about the robot; it is about what the team does to spread the FIRST message.
This program allows the youth to get ahead, get inspired, and to experience something that could change their life and possibly, the world. Each year, FIRST comes out with a new game challenge and every team is pushed to brainstorm, design, engineer, fabricate and assemble a robot that can effectively play the game. FIRST competitions are like “sports for the mind.” A mental test of endurance, without the physical strain on the body. All individuals are welcomed to the FIRST family, and they are able to experience what many others do not get to at such an early age.
The philosophy of our program is to foster key STEM skills as well as general workplace skills to develop the future workforce. We stress some of the fundamentals of the workplace that anyone can use. Our program is not just for the future engineer or scientist or architect. We look to develop leadership, communication, and documentation skills. Time management, budgeting, and teamwork are real issues we need to deal with as well. This is managed through the practice of the engineering design process and a project management framework called Scrum. We are all about constant improvement as mistakes are made and should be learned from.
As a result of FIRST, our community is opened up to new technological advances being made in the world. The FIRST program has also taught the younger generation to use technology in different ways. It has taught them to not only think outside of the box, but to be innovative and explore different possibilities as well. Everyone is given the opportunity to learn about technology and to pursue the different careers within STEM fields. FIRST shows us that we can learn practical skills through hands-on experiences that are only available in traditional job environments, while enjoying ourselves, exploring new ideas, and having fun.