FIRST, For Inspiration And Recognition of Science and Technology, is a robotics competition that inspires students to engage in the engineering and robotics revolution. FIRST was founded by Dean Kamen in 1989 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Since the first FIRST competition in 1992, FIRST has expanded both nationally and internationally. In the 2011/2012 season over 294,000 students and 26,900 teams are expected to compete in the various FIRST competitions. FIRST is comprised of three different leagues, FIRST Lego League (FLL), FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC), and FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC). Through FIRST competitions, high school students are challenged to invent and build a robot to compete on a new game board every year. FIRST’s hopes “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.”

FIRST Values

Gracious Professionalism ™

Dr. Woodie Flowers, FIRST National Advisor and Pappalardo Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, coined the term “Gracious ProfessionalismTM.”

Gracious Professionalism is part of the ethos of FIRST. It”s 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. They avoid treating anyone like losers. No chest thumping tough talk, but no sticky-sweet platitudes either. Knowledge, competition, and empathy are comfortably blended.

In the long run, Gracious Professionalism is part of pursuing a meaningful life. One can add to society and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing one has acted with integrity and sensitivity.


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.

Coopertition™ and Gracious Professionalism ™ are trademarks of FIRST, For Inspiration of Science and Technology

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