What is FIRST®?

FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a multinational non-profit organization, that aspires to transform culture, making science, math, engineering, and technology as cool for kids as sports are today. FIRST® was founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway Human Transporter. FIRST® operates the FIRST® Robotics Competition in which teams of high school students and their mentors design, assemble, and test a robot capable of performing a specified task in competition with other teams. Other programs that FIRST® also runs is the FIRST® LEGO® League, for children 9-14 years old, and FIRST® Place, an innovative and creative learning and development program that explores science and math and offers a wide variety of hands-on children’s programs.

FIRST® was founded on partnerships with businesses, educational institutions and government. Many Fortune 500 companies provide funding, in kind donations and volunteers to support the program. The key to FIRST®‘s success is the work of over 45,000 volunteer mentors, professional engineers, teachers, and other adults working with students across the country. In addition to the thousands of volunteer team mentors, FIRST® competitions and other events were organized and staffed by over 15,000 event and committee volunteers. Through these volunteers, FIRST® programs engaged over 70,000 young people during the last year. FIRST® programs are growing rapidly in the United States and Canada, and demand is accelerating in other countries.

Two key values of FIRST® are Gracious Professionalism® and Coopertition®. The term Gracious Professionalism® was coined by Dr. Woodie Flowers, FIRST® National Advisor and Pappalardo Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and simply means that although we may compete in fierce competitions we will do it with respect and kindness without making anyone feel as though they are a loser. Gracious Professionalism™ perfectly blends aspects of knowledge, competition, and empathy together. Coopertition® is showing being respectful and being kind while in the middle of fierce competition. It is based on the concept that teams can and should cooperate and aid each other even as they compete against one another. It is simply the teaching of others and learning from each other. Coopertition™ is allowing oneself to be managed while managing as well. It is about competing always, but assisting and enabling others when it is possible.

For more information about FIRST®, please visit the official website at