FIRST, NI Extend Cooperation to Accelerate STEM Education for the Next Generation of Engineering Problem Solvers

NI to Continue Donating roboRIO Controllers to New FIRST® Robotics Competition Teams Through May 2021

MANCHESTER, N.H., April 12, 2018 FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an international K-12 not-for-profit organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen, today announced the extension of a supply agreement with National Instruments (NI) through May 2021. The extension is part of NI’s continued efforts to accelerate STEM education and support the next generation of engineers and scientists through FIRST programs, which inspire K-12 students to build a lifelong love of learning and engagement in STEM through robotics challenges.

“At NI, we believe we can best help accelerate STEM education through key non-profit relationships, employee volunteerism, and leveraging NI technologies and expertise,” said Dave Wilson, vice president of product marketing for software, academics, and customer education at NI.  “Working with FIRST allows us to do all of those things, and we couldn't be prouder to continue our relationship with such an important, impactful organization.”

NI, a longtime Strategic Partner of FIRST, has seen the impact of FIRST programs on the lives of student participants firsthand, including how FIRST inspires students to pursue degrees and careers in engineering, technology, and the sciences. NI supports FIRST with donated hardware and software, as well as financial contributions, in-kind engineering and development support, leadership on the FIRST Executive Advisory Board, and the engagement of more than 100 passionate NI employees as FIRST volunteers and mentors.

As a company, NI accelerates productivity, innovation and discovery through an open, software-centric platform that helps accelerate the development and performance of automated test and automated measurement systems. NI’s modular hardware platforms and system design software – such as LabVIEW – help engineers do more, innovate faster, and easily integrate new technologies.

NI developed the roboRIO, a powerful controller released in 2015 for student robotics teams, to give students access to the same technology used by industry engineers every day. NI also develops software specifically for FIRST Robotics Competition through its work on the Control System Development team.

Every year, NI donates the robotics control platform for new teams, along with LabVIEW, the systems engineering software used by professional engineers all over the world. The extended partnership ensures student teams have access to the successful platform through May 2021.

“NI believes, as we do, that when students get hands-on experience using real-world science and engineering tools, it accelerates STEM learning and engagement,” said Donald E. Bossi, president of FIRST. “We’re thrilled FIRST teams will continue to benefit from NI’s technology, expertise, and employee volunteerism. Together, we’re preparing the next generation of engineers and scientists to take on the world’s most significant engineering challenges.”

NI, which is headquartered in Austin, Texas, and has offices around the world, is also a Global Sponsor of FIRST® LEGO® League and has worked to bring wider access to robotics programs to millions of students across Texas by formalizing student robotics competitions through the state’s extracurricular activities association, the University Interscholastic League (UIL).

For more information about FIRST programs and sponsorship opportunities, please contact


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 $70 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

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