Founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen, the FIRST Robotics Competition inspires young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. FIRST stands for, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. Taken from FIRST’s website,
“[FIRST’s] mission 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.”
The robotics competition is based off of the concept of cooperation and teamwork. While teams are competing against each other, teams are highly encouraged to help one another. In the 2014 competition there are 2,720 teams participating. 68,000 high-school students are engaged in their school’s robotics programs.
During the competition, teams have up to six weeks to plan, build, and test their robots. After these six weeks pass, teams must “Bag and Tag” their robots. Teams first compete in a regional competition. If a team places high enough, the team will proceed to travel to St. Louis for a national robotics competition. Various awards are given out at the competition but the Chairman’s award is the most prestigious. The Chairman’s award honors the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the purpose and goals of FIRST. This means the team must be willing to help others and encourage people to engage in robotics.