For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, or FIRST, is an international non-profit organization founded in 1989 which not only to provides students with the information they need to pursue careers in the STEM field, but aims to inspire them to become leaders and innovators in anything they do. And though students might join just to build a robot, they just might build some self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills along the way.
Founded by Dean Kamen and Woodie Flowers, FIRST provides four main robot-building programs for students ages six through eighteen, including FIRST Robotics Competition, the branch designed specifically for high school students, of which Team 533 is a part of. When first played in 1991, there were no alliances, no stadiums of people, and the field was literally filled with corn. Today, 28 years after its creation, the FRC program has only gotten bigger, so much so that the program often gets a little confusing to explain. But fear not, we’re going to map it out for you!
Each year FIRST creates a brand new game for each of its branches. For the Robotics Competition branch, each game season starts at the beginning of the year and is broken into three parts: Build Season, Competition Season, and Off-Season. Build Season starts with Kick-Off, where the game is revealed, followed by weeks of planning, building, and programming. At the end of February, Build Season concludes and Competition Season begins, during which teams compete against one another in Regionals, hoping to score a win and gain access to Championships at the end of the season. Following Championships, teams can compete in a variety of stand-alone competitions solely for fun, known as Invitationals.
Although FIRST educates through the use of competitions, the focus of FIRST does not lie in the competition itself. Instead, the culture of FIRST is built around two core values: “Gracious Professionalism”, which embodies the competition aspect while embracing humbleness over cockiness, and “Coopertition”, which emphasizes that teams can cooperate and compete at the same time. For students who embrace both of these values, the FIRST program provides roughly $80 million in scholarships while offering a variety of internships to alumni of the FIRST program.
So there it is: a brief history of FIRST and the Robotics Competition program. Interested in learning more? Check out the first website here: https://www.firstinspires.org/robotics/frc. Care to learn more about Team 533? Be sure to check out the tabs above for more information!