FIRST Announces Landmark 2019 Season Theme Celebrating Space Innovation and 30 Years of STEM Inspiration

World’s Largest Youth-Serving Nonprofit Advancing STEM Launches Space-Themed Robotics Season with The Boeing Company, Qualcomm Incorporated as Program Presenting Sponsors

MANCHESTER, N.H., May 15, 2018FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an international K-12 not-for-profit organization founded by prolific inventor Dean Kamen, today announced that more than 575,000 students will explore space across all four FIRST programs in the coming robotics season, FIRST Launch 2019.

The 2019 season will mark the youth-serving nonprofit’s 30th anniversary. FIRST, incorporated in 1989 by Dean Kamen to create the world’s landmark robotics competition for students, has engaged millions of people in a movement to build problem solvers who are transforming our world through innovation and leadership.

“I started FIRST because I wanted to change the culture to one where science, technology, engineering, and invention are celebrated. Today, the impact of FIRST is even bigger than STEM, and it remains my greatest invention,” said Dean Kamen, president of DEKA Research & Development. “While new products eventually become obsolete, building new inventors – young people who are excited about innovation and creating – only grows in impact over time. That’s proven by the millions of people in FIRST who are dedicated to making the world a better place.”

The cross-program theme of space is a celebration of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission that put the first humans on the moon – a moment when the world was united in celebration of human ingenuity and inspired by the possibility that by working together, we can quite literally reach the stars.

Over the past three decades, FIRST has expanded to offer a progression of hands-on robotics challenges – FIRST® LEGO® League Jr. (Grades K-4), FIRST® LEGO® League (Grades 4-8), FIRST® Tech Challenge (Grades 7-12), and FIRST® Robotics Competition (Grades 9-12) – to engage kids early in STEM and inspire a lifelong love of learning and innovation.

FIRST Strategic Partner The Boeing Company is the FIRST Robotics Competition Season Presenting Sponsor for the 2019 season game, DESTINATION: DEEP SPACESM.

“Boeing is proud to sponsor the 2019 FIRST Robotics Competition and its theme, DESTINATION: DEEP SPACE,” said Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing chairman, president and chief executive officer. “The single most inspiring area for building future STEM talent is space exploration. By participating in FIRST, these young innovators are gaining important skills and excitement for the future of aerospace.”

FIRST Strategic Partner Qualcomm Incorporated returns as the FIRST Tech Challenge Season Presenting Sponsor for the 2018-2019 season game, ROVER RUCKUSSM.

“As a company that invents foundational technologies, it is crucial that we invest in the young minds that will someday solve the technology questions that haven’t even been asked,” said Brian Modoff, executive vice president of strategy and M&A at Qualcomm. “This is why we are a longstanding supporter and Strategic Partner of FIRST and we are excited to return as the FIRST Tech Challenge Season Presenting Sponsor for the third consecutive year.”

Registration for all four FIRST programs, united under a common theme, is now open. Each program’s game details, designed in partnership with astronauts and space experts, will be revealed later this year.

“Since its founding in 1989, FIRST has evolved into a global movement engaging millions of people who are dedicated to empowering young people to change the world,” said Donald E. Bossi, president of FIRST. “FIRST Launch 2019 is a recognition of the extraordinary impact our young people can and will make – from Earth to deep space. We are inspiring a new generation of innovators and explorers to make the next ‘giant leap’ for humankind.”

  • Each year since 2004, FIRST LEGO League Jr. presents a new and exciting challenge to ignite creativity in young children. For the 2018-2019 FIRST LEGO League Jr. MISSION MOONSM Challenge, teams of 6-10 year-olds from 41 countries will use a space-themed Inspire Set to build a model based on the challenge, and use LEGO® Education WeDo 2.0 to program it to move. They will also illustrate their research through a Show Me Poster.
  • The 2018-2019 FIRST LEGO League INTO ORBITSM Challenge marks a return to the program’s inaugural theme from 20 years ago, focusing on exploring and innovating in the demanding space field. FIRST LEGO League is an international program for students 9-14 years old (9-16 outside North America), created to introduce younger students to real-world engineering challenges by conducting research projects and designing, building, and coding an autonomous LEGO® MINDSTORMS® robot to complete tasks on a thematic playing surface.
  • FIRST Tech Challenge teams will compete in a planetary-rover themed game called ROVER RUCKUSSM presented by Qualcomm Incorporated. FIRST Tech Challenge is an international program for students 12-18 years old, created to get young people excited about STEM – and teach them valuable career and life skills. Students work to design, build, program, and operate robots to play a themed floor game in an alliance format.
  • FIRST Robotics Competition will celebrate the exploration of the unknown with DESTINATION: DEEP SPACESM presented by Boeing. Working with adult mentors, FIRST Robotics Competition students have limited time and resources to design, build, program, and test their robots to meet the season’s engineering challenge. Once these young innovators build a robot, they compete in events for honors and recognition that reward design excellence, competitive play, sportsmanship, and high-impact partnerships between schools, businesses, and communities.

Throughout their experience, FIRST teams express the FIRST philosophies of Gracious Professionalism® and Coopertition® through a signature set of FIRST Core Values.


About FIRST® 
Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $80 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST® Tech Challenge for Grades 7-12; FIRST® LEGO® League for Grades 4-8; and FIRST® LEGO® League Jr. for Grades K-4. Gracious Professionalism® is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to