bio_kamenDean Kamen is an American entrepreneur who invented the Segway Human Transporter and the iBOT battery operated wheelchair. In 1989, he established the FIRST program in order to get kids excited about science. FIRST Robotics, whose mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting Mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership. FIRST is more than robots. FIRST participation is proven to encourage students to pursue education and careers in STEM-related fields, inspire them to become leaders and innovators, and enhance their 21st century work-life skills.

FIRSTlogoR_color_rgbFIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics is an international high school competition that combines the excitement of sport and the rigors of science and technology. This is as close to real-world engineering as a student can get. Adult mentors also lend their time and talent to teach and guide each team. The game for FIRST changes every year, and is revealed in early January. Also revealed are the rules of the game, which include the set-up of the playing field and what tasks the robots have to accomplish that year to score points. From the kick-off date, teams have six weeks to completely design, build, and program and test a robot that can accomplish the tasks previously mentioned. Different companies can sponsor local high school teams helping them with various costs and technical support. The teams can also create colorful t-shirts or uniforms that have a team logo on them.

This is the 2015 World Championship, which Alpha+ attended after winning the Western Canada Regional in Calgary, Alberta:

In FIRST Robotics, students have the opportunity to:
  • Build and compete with a robot of their own design
  • Compete and cooperate in alliances and tournaments
  • Qualify for over $16 million in college scholarships
  • Learn from professional engineers
  • Learn and use sophisticated software and hardware
  • Earn a place in the World Championship

The FIRST vision is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders. By engaging them in exciting programs that build science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills, they can inspire innovation and foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.

Students are challenged to:
  • Raise money
  • Design a team “brand”
  • Hone their teamwork skills
  • Build and program robots
  • Create award submissions

Gracious professionalism is one of the main themes of FIRST. With gracious professionalism, people can learn to compete with passion, yet still respect each other and treat one another with kindness in the process. There is a comfortable blend of knowledge, empathy, and competition.

Coopertition is another integral virtue of FIRST. This is defined as displaying unqualified kindness and respect, even in the face of fierce competition. It is founded on the concept and philosophy that teams can and should cooperate and help each other, even while competing. Coopertition also involves learning and teaching from teammates and mentors. It is a combination of cooperation and competition. It means to always compete but assist and enable others when possible.

How competitions work:

The FIRST Robotics Competition combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. Under strict rules, limited resources, and time limits, teams are challenged to raise funds, design a team “brand”, hone teamwork skills, and build and program robots to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. Its as close to “real-world engineering” as a student can get. Volunteer professional mentors lend their time and talents to guide each team.