Crossroads Robot On Top

What is FIRST®?

For students aged 6-18, it's the hardest fun you'll ever have. For team Mentors, Coaches, and Volunteers, it's the most rewarding adventure you'll ever undertake. For Sponsors, it's the most enlightened investment you could ever make.

FIRST is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization devoted to helping young people discover and develop a passion for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Founded more than 20 years ago by inventor Dean Kamen, the 2011-2012 FIRST season attracted more than 280,000 youth and more than 100,000 Mentors, Coaches, and Volunteers from more than 60 countries. The annual programs culminate in an international robotics competition and celebration where teams win recognition, gain self confidence, develop people and life skills, make new friends, and perhaps discover an unforeseen career path.

FIRST provides four programs: the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®) and the FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC®) for Grades 9-12 (ages 14 to 18); the FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®) for Grades 4-8 (ages 9 to 16; 9 to 14 in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico); and the Junior FIRST® LEGO® League (Jr.FLL®) for Grades K-3 (ages 6 to 9). FIRST also operates a research, development, and training facility called FIRST® Place™ at its headquarters in New Hampshire.

Who are some of the organizations that mentor FIRST® teams?

FIRST is supported by a strong network of corporations, educational and professional institutions, and individuals. Some of the world's most respected companies-including three out of every five Fortune 500 companies - provide funding, mentorship time and talent, volunteerism, equipment, and more to make FIRST a reality. Founding Sponsors are Boston Scientific Corporation, Baxter International Inc., The Chrysler Foundation, DEKA Research & Development, Delphi, General Motors, Johnson & Johnson, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Motorola, Inc., and Xerox Corporation. Strategic Partners are BAE Systems, The Boeing Company, DEKA Research & Development, FedEx Corporation, General Motors Corporation, jcpenney, Johnson & Johnson, Motorola Foundation, NASA, National Instruments, PTC, Rockwell Automation, Rockwell Collins, and Time Warner Cable. Rockwell Collins is the Official Program Sponsor and PTC is the CAD & Collaboration Sponsor for the FIRST Tech Challenge. The LEGO Group is a Founding Partner of FIRST LEGO League. 3M and LEGO Systems A/S are Official Suppliers, and National Instruments, Rockwell Automation, Statoil, and Vestas are Sponsors of FIRST LEGO League.

How does the education community support FIRST®?

FIRST provides an education, skill and career path for young people who might not otherwise have discovered an interest in and pursued education and careers in science and technology. FIRST works closely with schools at every level to transform both the perception and reality of education in science and technology. Some of the finest colleges and universities support FIRST by providing scholarship opportunities, sponsoring teams, and providing mentorship, equipment, and facilities. As a result of the support of these colleges and universities, 2011/12 FIRST high-school students are eligible to apply for over $14 million in scholarship funds to continue education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).

FIRST participants are encouraged to apply for the FIRST Scholarship at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

Who manages the teams and events?

FIRST is truly a volunteer-driven organization. For the 2011/2012 FIRST season, more than 100,000 Volunteers are expected to contribute in areas including mentorship, event management, recruitment, and team management. The growth and success of FIRST is a direct result of the efforts of the mentors, parents, teachers, community leaders, and citizens who volunteer their time and talent.

How can Volunteers get involved?

The best ways to start discovering the rewards of FIRST are:

  • Attend a FIRST event (visit and click on the "What FIRST Teams and Events Are In My Area" block in the upper right corner to find an event close to you - attendance is free!)
  • Contact a Mentor from a local team to assist
  • Visit the FIRST website at for local Volunteer/Event Opportunities; or
  • Contact FIRST at 1-800-871-8326.

Interested volunteers can visit our website at for more information about how to become a mentor.

What is Gracious Professionalism™?

Gracious Professionalism™ is part of the ethos of FIRST. The idea and phrase are found throughout FIRST, but no one has been a stronger champion than FIRST National Advisor, Woodie Flowers. "Gracious Professionalism is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. 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."

What is Coopertition™?

Coopertition™ produces innovation. At FIRST, Coopertition is displaying unqualified kindness and respect in the face of fierce competition. Coopertition is founded on the concept and a philosophy that teams can and should help and cooperate with each other even as they compete. 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.