Vision and Mission

Mission

The mission of FIRST® is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators, 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.


Vision

"To transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders."  Dean Kamen, Founder


Methodology

Engage PreK-12 (ages 4-18) students in exciting, mentor-based, research and robotics programs that help them become science and technology leaders, as well as well-rounded contributors to society.

FIRST works because our programs use strategies known to increase student interest in STEM: hands-on learning, working as a team on real-life problems, exposure to careers and adult mentors, emphasis on FIRST Core Values, and a culminating celebration where students can showcase what they created and learned. 

FIRST participants also develop skills in teamwork, problem solving, and communication, preparing them for success in school and the workforce, no matter what path they take.


Founder

Dean Kamen is a prolific inventor, entrepreneur, and tireless advocate for science and technology. His passion and determination to help young people discover the excitement and rewards of science and technology are the cornerstones of FIRST. For over 30 years, Kamen has resolutely led the growth of FIRST to where it is now universally recognized as the leading, not-for-profit STEM engagement program for kids worldwide.

 

Dean Kamen with FIRST student
Dean Kamen speaking at podium

 


About FIRST

FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a robotics community that prepares young people for the future through a suite of inclusive, team-based robotics programs for ages 4-18 (PreK-12) that can be facilitated in school or in structured afterschool programs. Boosted by a global support system of volunteers, educators, and sponsors that include over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies, teams operate under a signature set of FIRST Core Values to conduct research, fundraise, design, build, and showcase their achievements during annual challenges.

An international not-for-profit organization (501(c)(3)) founded by accomplished inventor Dean Kamen in 1989, FIRST has a proven impact on STEM learning, interest, and skill-building well beyond high school. Alumni of FIRST programs gain access to exclusive scholarships, internships, and other opportunities that create connections and open pathways to a wide variety of careers.

Read more about the impact of FIRST or download our FAQs.


FIRST Core Values

The FIRST Core Values emphasize friendly sportsmanship, respect for the contributions of others, teamwork, learning, and community involvement and are part of our commitment to fostering, cultivating, and preserving a culture of equity, diversity, and inclusion. The FIRST Community expresses the FIRST philosophies of Gracious Professionalism® and Coopertition® through our Core Values:

  • Discovery: We explore new skills and ideas.
  • Innovation: We use creativity and persistence to solve problems.
  • Impact:  We apply what we learn to improve our world.
  • Inclusion: We respect each other and embrace our differences.
  • Teamwork: We are stronger when we work together.
  • Fun: We enjoy and celebrate what we do!


Gracious Professionalism®

Dr. Woodie Flowers, (1943 - 2019) EAB Chair Emeritus & Distinguished Advisor, coined the term "Gracious Professionalism®."

Gracious Professionalism is part of the ethos of FIRST. It's a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community.

With Gracious Professionalism, fierce competition and mutual gain are not separate notions. Gracious professionals learn and compete like crazy but treat one another with respect and kindness in the process. They avoid treating anyone like losers. No chest thumping tough talk, but no sticky-sweet platitudes either. Knowledge, competition, and empathy are comfortably blended.

In the long run, Gracious Professionalism is part of pursuing a meaningful life. One can add to society and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing one has acted with integrity and sensitivity.


Coopertition®

Coopertition® produces innovation. At FIRST, Coopertition is displaying unqualified kindness and respect in the face of fierce competition. Coopertition is founded on the concept and a philosophy that teams can and should help and cooperate with each other even as they compete.

Coopertition involves learning from teammates. It is teaching teammates. It is learning from Mentors. And it is managing and being managed. Coopertition means competing always, but assisting and enabling others when you can.



FIRST is proud to receive the following special recognition as part of our continued work to inspire children to explore science and technology.

 

Great Nonprofits logoFIRST won a 2019 Top-Rated Award from GreatNonprofits. Read inspiring stories about us and add your own.

 


 

For the fifteenth consecutive year, FIRST has achieved a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator for consistently executing its mission in a fiscally responsible way. This rating places FIRST in the top 1% of all charities evaluated by Charity Navigator.

 

nassp iconThe National Association of Secondary School Principals has placed FIRST® Robotics Competition and FIRST® Tech Challenge on the 2020-21 NASSP List of Approved Contests, Programs, and Activities for Students. Visit the NASSP site for more information.
 

 

dean quote