FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an organization dedicated to promoting interest in science and technology. It was founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen and is currently supported by over 3,500 corporations, institutions, and individuals. Now in our 25th year, FIRST has grown from 28 U.S.- based teams in the initial competition season to more than 34,000 teams today in over 80 countries, involving more than 360,000 kids, and over 150,000 adult Volunteers from the FIRST Robotics Competition, FIRST Tech Challenge, FIRST LEGO League, and Junior FIRST LEGO League programs. Almost 90 percent of FIRST Alumni are now studying for or working in STEM careers, and female FIRST participants are four times more likely to study STEM subjects due to participation. That’s impact with a capital “I.” And in terms of financial stewardship, FIRST achieved its ninth consecutive four-star rating from Charity Navigator, certifying our continued commitment to accountability, transparency, and sound fiscal management.
FIRST’s mission is to inspire youth to lead in the fields of science and technology. Each year, FIRST holds robotics competitions which challenge participants to build a robot and to compete and win a game with the specifics and requirements decided upon each year. Each team has a six week deadline to build a fully-functioning robot, fit for the game. This competition helps to build science, engineering, and technology skills in its members, inspire innovation, and create a positive impact on the youth involved.
FIRST emphasizes “gracious professionalism,” a work ethic that encourages high-quality work and respect for individuals and the community as a whole. According to the FIRST website, “gracious professionals learn and compete like crazy, but treat one another with respect and kindness in the process. They avoid treating anyone like losers. No chest thumping or tough talk, but no sticky-sweet platitudes either. Knowledge, competition, and empathy are comfortably blended.”
The FIRST scholarship program is college scholarships that are exclusive for FIRST students and are funded and offered by colleges and universities to use at their campus, or by corporations, organizations, and professional associations to use at any college or university. Most FIRST scholarships are renewable each year if you maintain an acceptable GPA average. Any high school student participating in FRC and FTC can apply for FIRST scholarships but most scholarships are for seniors. There are currently over $25,000.000 in scholarships available from 200+ scholarship providers.