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FIRST taught me how to work smart, like a startup

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Peyton Fitzgerald

FIRST Alum, FIRST Robotics Competition Team 5459 “Ipswich Tigers” and Recipient, Northeastern University’s NU-FIRST Scholarship

When I wrote an essay to apply for Northeastern University’s full-tuition NU-FIRST Scholarship, I found it difficult to convey what FIRST meant to me in just 500 words. FIRST not only taught me about engineering; it taught me how to learn. Right off the bat, I discovered the benefits of failing early and failing well.

I joined my school's new FIRST Robotics Competition team as a founding member my sophomore year. We worked like a startup, where everybody did a bit of everything. I ran the business side of things – social media and fundraising – but I was also involved with building the robot itself, which is how I discovered my passion for mechanical engineering. My senior year, I became captain.

Most things I've experienced in high school have been fairly laid out: You get a task, and as long as you work hard, it'll turn out fine. On a FIRST team, just like a startup, you can work as hard as you can in the wrong direction, and it won't work. You have to work smart. It serves a lot of inspiration for me to remember the moment at a FIRST competition event when our robot worked. After our robot failed at the previous event, we had spent six hours rebuilding it. When the robot did exactly what it was supposed to, it was the best feeling in the world.

FIRST is about more than the competitions. Some of my teammates and I took on a project with a small nonprofit called Ocean Alliance. Their scientists fly drones over whales and collect the sprayed mucus for DNA samples. They were having difficulty judging distances between the drone and the whale, so my team worked on a system that would relay an audio clip of the drone's height back to the driver.

Even before I picked a college, I was planning to mentor a local team. I want to give back to FIRST because of the impact it has made on my life. That became even more important after I received Northeastern’s NU-FIRST Scholarship, which will cover my full tuition for up to eight semesters, as long as I maintain a 3.0 GPA in the College of Engineering. This season, I am mentoring Team 125, “The NU-TRONs.” I think I'll be learning just as much as a mentor as I did as a student.

How One Act of Kindness Changed Me

Sep 20, 2017 By Rhodes Conover, FIRST Alumnus; Student, Florida Polytechnic University

We had failed. As other teams celebrated their victories, our robot sat motionless on the playing field; each cheer from the crowd felt like salt in our wounds.


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FIRST helps teachers discover more through STEM

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Maureen Reilly

FIRST LEGO League Coach

When Maureen Reilly, fourth-grade teacher at PS 261 in Brooklyn, NY, decided to co-lead a FIRST® LEGO® League team at her school, she had no idea what to expect. She wasn’t even sure she’d know what to teach. After all, she wasn’t “into” science or math and knew nothing about starting a robotics program. She did know one thing—a team would improve the situation. So she recruited the special education teacher and the technology teacher at her school. Neither knew anything about robotics either, but they all agreed, Maureen laughed, “to forgive ourselves for not knowing things.”

Despite being unsure at first, the FIRST robotics program remains one of Maureen’s best teaching experiences. After doing it themselves, Maureen and her fellow teachers believe anyone can start a robotics program at their school. On the FIRST Inspire blog, the teachers share six lessons learned when they pushed themselves and their students to discover more through STEM.

Are You Teaching the First Global Language? We’re here to help

Dec 07, 2016 by FIRST Staff

Did you know that only 33 states allow students to count computer science course toward high school graduation? And although 90 percent of parents want their child to study computer science, only 40 percent of schools teach it.


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FIRST Tech Challenge Grants

Grant Opportunities

At this time we are not aware of any open grant opportunities. If we hear of any open applications they will be posted here. 

FIRST Robotics Competition Grants

What is FIRST Robotics Competition?

Combining the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. We call FIRST Robotics Competition the ultimate Sport for the Mind. High-school student participants call it "the hardest fun you'll ever have."

FIRST Robotics Competition Rookie Team Grants

The application for the 2019 FIRST Robotics Competition Rookie Grant is now closed.  Questions can be directed to Teams will be notified via email of their award status on November 9, 2018. Please note that completing an application does not guarantee funding and all teams should be actively fundraising and seeking additional funding opportunities.

Kettering/GMI Alumni Association (KGMIAA) is proud to sponsor eight (8) FIRST Robotics Competition teams for the 2019 season. Each team sponsored receives $1,000 toward the building of this season's robot.

Team Requirements

  • Application must be submitted by November 1

  • Team must display sponsorship material (received in their sponsorship package) in addition to their standard team sponsorship promotional material

  • The application can be found here:

Winning teams will be announced at the Kettering kickoff on January 5, 2019.

NASA FIRST Robotics Competition Sponsorship Grant Application for the 2019 season is now closed.

The grant application is now closed as the deadline was Sunday, September 30, 2018, at 11:59 PM PDT. It is NASA's plan to announce selections no later than the week of November 11, 2018. Please note this date is an estimate and may change. Any changes to the announcement date will be posted on the RAP website.

Thank You Notes
It’s never too early to thank the folks who support FIRST, even if they do not yet directly sponsor your team. All teams and participants benefit from the generous support of our partners. Plus, gratitude can go a long way toward building a bond with a potential sponsor or supporter. In the spirit of Gracious Professionalism®, please send thank you notes, tokens of appreciation, and other correspondence to FIRST HQ, Attn: Team Grants, 200 Bedford Street, Manchester, NH 03101. We thank you for letting FIRST supporters know that they are truly appreciated and encouraging them to continue to support the FIRST mission.

Global Innovation

Global Innovation

The FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation Award is designed to showcase the real-world, innovative solutions that FIRST LEGO League teams create as a result of their Project.