FIRST was founded in 1992 by Dean Kamen, also known as the inventor of the Segway HT. Dean
recognized a growing problem with students – a lack of interest and excitement about science and technology. FIRST was created as an activity that would show high school students that science, math and engineering can be exciting and interesting. The FIRST Robotics Competition started out in 1992 with one small regional competition in New Hampshire, hosting 28 teams. In 2016 FIRST will sponsor 127 regional and district competitions and an international Championship, with teams from all over the world participating.

The FIRST Robotics Competition is the primary event of FIRST. Every year, a new game is created with a new premise and rules. Each team is then given six weeks to design, build and test a robot using a standard kit of parts. Once build season has been completed, teams send their robots to regional competitions around the country. These events, which last three days, are very high-energy events, with teams cheering each other on as they work in team alliances to achieve the best possible score.

IMG_1913However, the team’s score is not the most important factor in determining the ‘winner’. The most prestigious award is the Chairman’s Award. This is given to the team that best represents the ideals of FIRST: Excellence in design, team spirit, gracious professionalism and maturity, and the ability to overcome obstacles. These are the ideals that FIRST bestows upon its participants.

FIRST has a great impact on its participants, including these effects on Swartdogs:

  • Gain confidence and communication skills by giving presentations (17 in this year alone) throughout the community, from businesses to schoolsIMG_3853
  • Heightens interest in STEM fields, gaining important and rewarding skills in an ever changing work force
  • Receiving internships and jobs at NASA, John Deere, Apple
  • 100% of students go to college with 75% going into STEM fields
  • Alumni give back to FIRST by volunteering at events for all 4 programs
  • Family comes back and supports events after graduating