FIRST – For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology is the brainchild of Dean Kamen of Bedford, NH: an engineer, inventor and entrepreneur. Mr. Kamen was concerned with the decreasing number of students graduating from United States high schools who went on to study in the areas of science, engineering and technology. The attitude and culture of education in the United States was heading in a direction that would jeopardize the future of the technical workforce of our country.
Deciding to address this issue, he created U.S. FIRST in 1989. FIRST’s 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.”FIRST was designed to inspire high school students to become involved in science and engineering, and through adult mentoring, to design and build a robot to play a “task oriented” game.
The program grew from 28 teams in 1992 to over 1,000 national and international teams in 2005. Through its international expansion, U.S. FIRST became simply FIRST. As the program expanded, through its Lego League and the VEX robot programs, FIRST became FIRST Robotics Competition, or FRC. As of 2011, FRC celebrated its 20th season and currently consists of 2075 teams and 414 rookie teams.