Dean Kamen, the founder of FIRST, explains that he started this program, “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.” The formal mission of FIRST 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.”

We strive to carry out this mission through our team. We love building our robots and we love the competition. But at the same time we recognize that this experience is opening our eyes to all sorts of things and providing us with unique opportunities to put to use our knowledge of math, science, physics, technology, and more. This video sums up what we all love about FIRST.

Gracious Professionalism

One of the basic ideals of FIRST is “gracious professionalism.” This term was created by Dr. Woodie Flowers, FIRST National Advisor and Pappalardo Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He defined it as a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community.

On the FIRST website it states that:

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.

Another FIRST ideal is that of “coopertition.” Again, the FIRST website says that:

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.

We strive to follow each of these concepts in all of our work.  It means lending tools and advice to other teams during a competition, and also being willing to accept the help of others. It means treating our teammates and other teams with respect. It means reaching out to the FIRST Lego League teams in our community and serving as mentors when possible.

Part of the reason we created this website is so we can share our work and resources with other teams.

Visit the official FIRST Robotics Competition website to learn more about Dean Kamen’s vision and this groundbreaking program.