What is FIRST?

FIRST_Vertical_RGB_reverse, which stands for “For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,” is a nonprofit organization founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen. Best known as the inventor of the Segway, Kamen is an inventor, entrepreneur, and a strong promoter of science, technology, and engineering.

Dean Kamen saw a critical problem in the lack of interest in science and technology in the upcoming generations. He saw them becoming more interested in things such as athletics. He wanted to get young minds not only interested in technology, but passionate about it. But there was a dilemma. How was he going to get a generation that’s not interested in science involved in such a program? Since the young minds were extremely interested in sports, he decided to create FIRST, a highschool varsity competition: a sport of the mind. This concept was embraced by the community, the nation, and throughout the world.


“To transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders.” –Dean Kamen

Through FIRST, students get a hands-on perspective of the engineering field and workplace. Not only do students gain important knowledge about engineering, they also learn how to work with fellow team members and understand the important roles that communications, team management, safety, and gracious professionalism play in being a successful team.


Gracious Professionalism is the idea of being in a competitive environment, while still maintaining respect for other teams. Respect is not the only thing given to others, assistance is also offered to the other teams. Trash talking and other rude comments that you would likely see at a football game or other sporting events are not encouraged in FIRST. Gracious Professionalism also produces quality work, recognizes the value of others, and promotes peer respect. Not only does FIRST build character, but there are many scholarships that are available for anybody that is a part of FIRST Robotics. Click here to see a list of scholarships.

Jr. FIRST Lego League – a robotics competition for students in grades K-3. Students are introduced to science and technology using LEGOs and problem solving skills to create solutions for science problems.

FIRST Lego League – a robotics competition for students in grades 4-8. Students build LEGO robots to complete tasks guided by imagination and their mentors.

FIRST Tech Challenge – a robotics competition designed for students in grades 9-12. Teams of up to 10 students compete head-to-head on alliances of other teams. Teams develop a strategy and build robots to compete.

FIRST Robotics Competition – described as “the varsity sport for the mind.” High school students design and build a robot in six weeks to compete on an alliance with 2 other teams in a game revealed every January. Along with building robots, teams design websites, fund-raise, and develop team working skills.

From its humble beginnings, FIRST has become a worldwide phenomenon that is changing lives everywhere.

Some of this information was taken from firstinspires.org