What does FIRST stand for anyway? For all of you that have the robotics fever and are still trying to find the meaning of this acronym, FIRST stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology”. FIRST is an organization started by inventor Dean Kamen in 1989, in the hopes of fostering interest among high school students in the engineering and technology fields. The FIRST headquarters are in Manchester, New Hampshire, where the very first, FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) was held in 1992. FIRST also holds FTC (First Tech Challenge) and FLL (First Lego League), as well as Jr. FLL.
Dean Kamen began doing this in honor of science and technology, as his mission states:
"Our mission is 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."
Anyone that has been to a FIRST regional will tell you it has the atmosphere and the excitement of a major sporting event. For a few weeks in March the competitions take center stage and make all the long hours of build season worthwhile. But success does not come without a lot of ground work. The work is year round, in and outside the class room. Students learn not only engineering but project management, ROBOTC programming, AutoCAD programs, and how to build with their hands. A life long love of science and engineering is instilled in the FIRSTers, just as the founders intended. If the fantastic growth of the league is any evidence, FIRST will continue to instill and foster a love of engineering, science and a spirit of Gracious Professionalism in generations of FIRSTers to come.
There are 4 programs and one camp:
VEX is a former branch of FIRST that became a huge international program. It is very similar to FIRST's FTC program. The size of the robots are the same, and they use some similar types of metal. Their world championship is held in the same week as FIRST's world championships. It is also similar to FIRST itself. VEX and FIRST are both listed for educational purposes and worldwide competitions. Also, VEX has its own computer program. It uses ROBOTC for Vex Cortex and Pic. FTC also uses ROBOTC, but in a slightly different format. However, VEX is cheaper and bigger than FTC at large. High school students and college students compete globally against other teams. VEX robotics competition is the largest and fastest growing middle and high school robotics program globally, with 7,300+ teams from 25+ countries, playing in 400+ tournaments worldwide. The VEX U college and university competition has more than 220 teams, competing in local tournaments and in their own division at the VEX World Championship.
We mentor 8 VEX teams at Golden West Middle School and 5 at our own school.