What is FIRST?
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a program for kids ages 6-18. FIRST is a non-profit organization devoted to help younger children develop a passion for engineering, technology, science, and math. This program has attracted more students than any other student-run engineering program, with over 210,000 students and more than 90,000 mentors participating in the past. FIRST started twenty years ago, when Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway, created this plan to inspire teenagers to become leaders in science and technology. Students that participate in FIRST have higher chances to go college and major in engineering or other science fields. Leadership roles are greatly rewarded coming into college especially if you are aimed toward engineering for further education. FIRST provides additional leadership roles for students who want to benefit this team.
FIRST competitions include (in order of grade level) JrFLL, FLL, FTC, and FRC. Competitions help students with building self-confidence, communication, and leadership and it also helps schools gain recognition. Various competitions help students build self-confidence because they are supported with team members who have worked hard. Students can become more free with their environment by making new friends so they can positively give out ideas and support the team.
Core values include team unity, problem-solving as a group with guidance from mentors, gaining the spirit of friendly competition, sharing experiences from others, and having fun. FIRST teaches students to practice gracious professionalism and cooperation as they represent their team professionally and are humble, yet a little competitive, towards other teams. With these characteristics, students are more modest and supportive in competitions and are prepared for real-world situations. FIRST helps students work together as a group to solve major problems, creating similarities to the real world. The experiences gained in FIRST will not only be informational and educational, but will also provide as unforgettable and fun memories throughout high school.
Who are these Kamen and Flowers Guys?
Dean Kamen is the founder of FIRST. What started in 1989 as his simple robotics exposition in New Hampshire has evolved into an international, 35,000+ student program. Before FIRST, he was well known as inventor of the Segway, among countless other devices such as Stirling engines for clean water and power productions. His company, DEKA, is reportedly moving towards solar powered devices, but is still known for the robotics and controls development that the FIRST program centers on.
Woodie Flowers is another central figure in, and co-founder of the FIRST Robotics Program. He currently serves on the Game and Kit design boards, but is also the namesake for the Woodie Flowers award. This award is given to one mentor each year that most genuinely embodies the principles of FIRST with his or her work with a team. Outside of FIRST, Dr. Flowers is the Pappalardo Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Distinguished Partner at Olin College.