The non-profit organisation FIRST was founded by Dean Kamen and Woddie Flowers in Manchester, New Hampshire in 1989. Its aim is to stimulate interest and participation of young people in science and technology. In addition, it is intended to convey teamwork and respect as basic values and to promote the life skills of the 21st century.
"To transform our culture by creating a world, where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders" Dean Kamen
Two aspects are particularly important to FIRST in its ethos: "Gracious Professionalism" and "Coopertition":
Gracious Professionalism is intended to promote quality work, emphasize the value of others and respect the individual and the community. Competitors learn and compete like crazy, but treat each other with respect and kindness in the process. They avoid treating someone like a loser. Knowledge, competition, and empathy are comfortably blended. In the long run, Gracious Professionalism aims to teach children and young people to live a respectful life.
Coopertition is an artificial word made up of "Cooperation" and "Competition" and marks the importance of seeing robotic competitions not as a competition but as a learning opportunity. By cooperation within a team but also between different teams it is possible that everyone can give his/her best. So on the day of the competition it is a matter of course to lend tools to other teams or to help them with computer problems. Even during the preparation time FIRST attaches great importance to contact between teams to exchange ideas. Coopertition is founded on the concept and a philosophy that teams can and should help and cooperate with each other even as they compete.
Discovery: We explore new skills and ideas. Innovation: We use creativity and persistence to solve problems. Impact: We apply what we learn to improve our world. Inclusion: We respect each other and embrace our differences. Teamwork: We are stronger when we work together. Fun: We enjoy and celebrate what we do!
#FIRSTLikeAGirl is a campaign by FIRST to get more girls interested in science and technology and later find STEM jobs (science, technology, engineering and maths). To this end, it shares experiences and stories of successful women and girls through videos and presentations. Through these role models, with whom it is easy to identify, FIRST empowers girls with the confidence to overcome cultural pressures, follow their dreams in STEM, and become active members of the FIRST community. This inspires girls to become the next generation of science and technology leaders. The campaign was launched in 2016 to close the gender gap in STEM areas and create a more inclusive culture, as there is still a lack of female participation and commitment.