The FIRST© Program is a program made to inspire young people to want to go into science or technology fields and help others get a positive attitude about technology and science. First offers many different programs like FIRST© Robotics Competition, FIRST© Tech Challenge, and FIRST© Lego League. FIRST© began in 1992 by Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway, with only 28 teams and now is extended to about 150,000 or more students. There is a long, fun and educational history to the FIRST© program. Every year the FIRST© Robotics Competition comes out with a new challenge which is announced on the first full week of January. The teams then have six weeks to design, build, and test a robot capable of completing the challenge that is announced. After the regional meets then the top teams go on to national events to compete against the top teams from the regional events.
In addition to robot competitions there are also awards that extend the FIRST© program beyond competition and into other skills that also benefit students in a "Real World" career. Some examples are the "Chairman's Award", the "Web Design Award", and the "Woodie Flowers Award".
The "Chairman's Award" is the highest award that can be given to any team, and reminds people that FIRST© isn´t just about robots. Since it is the highest award there are a lot of requirements that go along with it, some are writing an essay of about 1,500 words, a DVD about the team, and other pieces of writing about how the FIRST© mission has affected the team.
The "Woodie Flowers Award" is an award that is given to a mentor that a team chooses to nominate. Then the team must write a paper on why they chose that member and how that mentor is an important part of the team. These papers are then submitted to FIRST© who then read the papers and give the award to the mentor that they see best fit for the award. Lastly there is the "Website Award" which is based on the teams website and on how they use the website and how the team presents itself and FIRST©. Also the websites are evaluated on how they are useful for the team and how well they are available for other teams to utilize. The website award also is to also teach students on the growing importance of creating a professional website.
In all FIRST© isn't just all robots, but is also is there to prepare students for a future career in a science or technology field, or even other career fields. The "Chairmans Award", "Woodie Flowers Award", and the "Website Award" are pretty good examples of the FIRST© program reaching beyond just robotics.