Why FIRST programs?
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded in 1989 to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. Based in Manchester, NH, the 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity designs accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills. ORTOP has been the FIRST Program Delivery Partner in Oregon since 2001.
FIRST is far more than robots. FIRST participation is proven to build STEM skills, interest, and identity, but it also inspires them to become leaders and innovators in their community.
While there are an array of other robotics competitions you can choose from, ORTOP recommends FIRST programs for a variety of reasons. Here are our top 10:
- Trusted Partner: FIRST programs are implemented globally by a non-profit organization with a platinum rating on Guidestar.org, a four star rating on Charity Navigator, and a 2018 Top Rated Non-Profit from GreatNonprofits.org. Some other programs were created by for-profit companies selling robot parts, and have created non-profit entities to run the competitions.
- Proven Impact: An industry leading longitudinal study by Brandeis University shows the impact of FIRST programs on students career opportunities significantly exceeds those of similar STEM programs.
- Reaching young women: This same study shows that participation in FIRST programs is even more impactful for young women, and participation by girls is increasing steadily each year.
- Values: FIRST places great emphasis on the elements of competition beyond the robot, such as teamwork, Gracious Professionalism® and Coopertition® . Students gain more than technical skills; they learn how to be a part of the 21st century workplace.
- Continuum: FIRST programs offer a true K-12 continuum through four programs. Students can move through the programs as they age, progressively building their skills, confidence, and STEM identity.
- Authenticity: FIRST Robotics Competition and FIRST Tech Challenge give Middle and High School students a real iterative engineering experience, allowing students to fabricate their own parts from scratch, requiring documentation in engineering notebooks and, in the case of FIRST Robotics Competition, intensive seasons that force teams to make tough design decisions to meet deadlines.
- Careers: Oregon’s top employers such as Intel, Hewlett-Packard, and Bonneville Power Administration support FIRST year after year because they know students who participate in FIRST come away with these valuable career skills.
- Mentorship: Employees from these local businesses provide thousands of hours of practical mentorship and coaching for participants, acting as career role models from their community.
- Inclusion: FIRST has invested millions in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in their programs. These efforts have led to continued growth in participation by girls, children of color, and low-income students
- Scholarships: More than $80M in college scholarships were made available to FIRST students last year. Many of the world’s premier engineering schools, such as MIT and WPI have begun asking about FIRST participation on their applications.