FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology), is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity founded by inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen. MIT professor Dr. Woodie Flowers coined the term Gracious Professionalism to highlight the intense competitiveness and great mutual respect under which FIRST competitions are held.

The goal of FIRST is to enrich the knowledge of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in pre-college youths. FIRST programs do not replace regular classroom work; they enhance it by providing real-world examples mentored by industry volunteers.

Since its founding in 1989, FIRST competitions have grown from 28 teams in the US to thousands of teams around the world.


The mission of FIRST 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.

"To transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology heroes."


1989 - FIRST is founded

Dean Kamen, along with assistance from Woodie Flowers, founds FIRST. FIRST was built as a program which would inspire and teach students in science and technology. To do this, FIRST aimed to integrate the enthusiasm of sports with the logic of technology and mathematics. Kamen states that FIRST is the invention he is most proud of.

1992 - FRC founded

Inaugural FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) is held in 1992 in the Manchester Memorial High School gymnasium. The competition, named “Maize Craze”, featured four robots trying to collect tennis balls into a predetermined starting base. As an impediment, the entire field was covered with 2 inches of corn, hence the name “Maize” Craze.

1998 - FLL founded

First LEGO League (FLL) is founded. Unlike FRC, which is aimed at high school students, FLL was geared towards 9 to 14-year old students and uses LEGO Mindstorms sets.

2005 - FTC founded

FIRST launches the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC), formerly the FIRST Vex Challenge (FVC). FTC is designed to be more affordable and accessible than FRC, as the robots are approximately a third of the size of FRC robots. At its launch, FTC used the Vex Robotics Design System. In 2009, FIRST created their custom standard kit and control system known as Tetrix.

2005 - Three team alliance

FIRST announces that teams must cooperate in the competition though alliances of three teams. This reinforces the values of Co-Opertition as a given team can be an opponent in one match and a partner in another match.

Aim high, land softly.
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