What is FIRST?
FIRST, which acronyms "For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology", is an organization founded in 1989 by innovative inventor Dean Kamen with the mission of inspiring young people to pursue futures in science and technology. This is achieved through engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, as well as inspire innovation, and foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.
FIRST provokes inspiration and interest in science and technology through exciting "sporting events for the mind"--robotics competitions. Beginning at the early elementary school level with the Jr. FIRST LEGO League, FIRST extends eventually into the high school FIRST Robotics Competition. Students cooperatively work with real tools and real engineers to create a full competition robot.
An essential element of the FIRST culture is the self-coined practice of "Gracious Professionalism"--the encouragement of respecting each other including opponents, valuing others, and encouraging high-quality work in friendly competition. Through this, teams compete like any other sport with competitive intensity--but during this process, kindness, respect, and courtesy are emphasized. In short, Gracious Professionalism is the practice of being, well, a Gracious Professional--that is, an effort-full and respectful citizen.
The Shrapnel Sergeants participate in the FIRST Tech Challenge--FTC-- and the FIRST Robotics Competition--FRC.
The FIRST official website can be visited at www.firstinspires.org.
The robotics build season kicks off with the FIRST Tech Challenge, or FTC, each September. Students use TETRIX Aluminum robotics kits as a basis to construct 18-inch cubed robots. Each year, a new game or challenge is announced that all teams must try to satisfy and compete within.
FIRST Robotics Competition
The FRC build season kicks off each January and represents the highest level of FIRST competition. After kickoff, teams are given a strict timeframe of only 6 weeks to complete their robot before it must be bagged & tagged. After the "stop build day," robots cannot be touched again until competition begins. In those short 6 weeks, students must design, build, program, and test a fully-functional competition robot.
FRC robots are typically around 120 pounds, and can potentially be as complex as a small automobile, if not more complex. Every year, there is a new challenge or game for teams to compete against in, and this is announced at kickoff each season, as well as the contents of the current season's Kit of Parts and other promotions.
The entire team must collaborate throughout the season to secure the funds necessary for optimum success each FRC and FTC season. This includes the costs related to the FRC Kit of Parts, competition fees, robot parts and repairs, and potential travel expenses as well as outreach programs.