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FIRST

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Education, Engineering & Technology, Scholarships, Scholarships & Student Financial Aid, Technology, Youth Development Programs

Mission: The mission of FIRST is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators, 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.

Geographic areas served: 100+ countries

Community Stories

180 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Board Member

Rating: 5

My husband and I became involved with FIRST in 2009 when our son was looking on the web for academic challenge. The experience has been irreplaceable ! Now we are running a nonprofit for several FIRST robotics teams and mentoring. FIRST builds successful, confident, and bright students for our future workforce. The students become better problem solvers, team players, and learn a variety of skills. This skills include machining, programming, electrical, CAD, pneumatics, designing, and following a timeline. Because of the success of the students that have been through our FIRST program, we continue our mission even though our son is in college. Seventeen students have graduated with FIRST skills from our team and received $799,000.00 in college scholarships. THAT IS SUCCESS! All of them credit FIRST for their choices that have made. It doesn't end there, once graduated, they continue by finding other teams and programs so they can continue to mentor. It is a wonderful cycle that encourages giving back to your community. I know from experience, once you get involved you get hooked on FIRST.

1 Angelo Z.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A family friend had mentioned that there was this FIRST group built around STIMs, (I did not know what the meant), but I knew that it was robotics and my one boy was very interested. So, I supported it and then became immersed in this amazing culture. We had worked together in another creative thinking team competition and that really creates an environment for the kids to come up with ideas, learn how to articulate their ideas so the team can understand their ideas and then bring it to life in the CAD program, and then physically. I am in my second year of mentoring. My other son has joined a team in his age group and I was am still blown away by the things the kids create and the "Gracious Professionalism" demonstrated by them and everyone in this program. I am still overwhelmed that a little over two years ago, I had no idea it even existed.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I decided to donate to FIRST after interacting with some of the kids at the local farmer's market. They were all very knowledgeable about the robot, how it was built, and the plans for the team. The local team (MARS) invited me to their weekly practice, and I've been hooked as a mentor ever since. The program really gives these wonderful kids a great outlet for their intelligence and creativity, and I enjoy the opportunity to assist them. I was in different gifted/magnet programs and schools as a child, but this is so much more advanced than any of the programs I was ever exposed to. I see FIRST doing a great job, and I'm happy to devote my time to it, even though I don't have any kids.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My husband and I became involved in the FIRST organization 6 yrs ago when my son joined his school robotics team as a Freshman. One of the most impressive things we have witnessed is how these kids do not hesitate to help other teams during competitions. They compete against each other yet they are there without hesitation when one team is having trouble and needs assistance. They cheer for one another and pick each other up when they are down. Thanks to FIRST my son learned what real team work means and learned how to be a leader. These are life lessons and skills that will help take him through his personal life and his career. He is now in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Cincinnati and landed a co-op position at an engineering firm thanks to the skills he learned while being a member of FIRST ROBOTICS Team 279.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am entering my second year in the FIRST Robotics. This started with me and some friends deciding to start a team. As one thing led to another, we went from three members to a little under twenty team members trying to solve the problem using only the tools we owned and the kit of parts provided. We had a large amount of help from many teams as well as the FIRST workers themselves. In the end we won the rookie inspiration award and almost every team member is back this year with more first year kids with us. It has helped us with our education by teaching us teamwork, responsibility, and helping your fellow teams in their time of need. This is a life changing program that I am ecstatic to be a part of.

Lisa280

Volunteer

Rating: 5

i joined FIRST as a parent of an enthuiastic High School Freshman. It wasn't long before I, as an engineer, realized the amazing opportinities that FIRST provides. You cannot get closer to a real life engineering experience, not even on many internships and college coops. The program also goes way beyond engineering and provides opportinities in marketing, programming, graphics and automation design, and many more. This is now my third year on what was a rookie team. My younger son has joined and my husband provides IT consulting services. There is another aspect I must mention. Unlike many competitive activities, FIRST encourages Graceful Professionalism. Teams are encouraged to teach and assist other teams. Even though the competition is fierce, everyone is helpful and everyone that succeeds in even getting to competition can be proud of their accomplishments. We had a graduating Senior with 2 years of FIRST experience and one year of LabView get selected as a Freshman at Carnegie Mellon to work with Graduate Students on a Lunar Robotic Rover project.

John187

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is my fifth year as a FIRST Mentor and coach. I am also an educator. There is nothing else like FIRST in the schools. Why is FIRST important? I could tell you all about the need for STEM education or the need for programmers or the way that FIRST gets kids passionate about STEM but that would only make it a good program. What makes FIRST great is the ability to provide kids that would not be successful in other extra curricular areas the chance to really shine. My heart melts every time I see one of my robo kids cheered on by others in the school because of what they have done and are able to do. Robotics provides a connection to the school for kids that might not be connected.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is my 4th year as a mentor for a FIRST FRC Team in Western PA. My role on the team was created because our school started a new team and my son was part of this. However, this is now my second year without my son being on the team. He graduated high school and is at a university that is #3 for Mechanical Engineering in the US. I keep coming back because the program enables students with many different skills and abilities to work on a STEM related project as a team and succeed. I have students on the team that have autism, ADHD, learning disabilities, the highest GPA's and the lowest GPA's, those who will not continue their education beyond high school and those who will create the next biggest thing, all working together. What program can incorporate all of that and still turn out a team of winners? It is FIRST Robotics. I am not an engineer or technical person. I am a nurse by trade. The Pittsburgh Regional Director and its program provides guidance and assistance to our team so that we can succeed!

Earl S.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been involved with FIRST as a judge, a coach, and a parent for over ten years now. In my opinion, THE most important thing that comes from a student's participation in FIRST is their evolution into a young person who understands and values those life skills that will lead to their personal success. I spend way too much of my personal time working with FIRST students and I wish I could spend more. I'm a professional educator and working with the students restores my faith in the next generation every year. The programs are a great combination of sport and creativity and additional mentors and coaches are always needed. That such an amazing program runs through the efforts of thousands of volunteers is just one example how valued these programs are by so many people.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is my 11th season as a co-coach of Mountaineer Area Robotics MARS. We enjoy competing in the Pittsburgh / Western PA tournaments. We currently mentor four teams from there. The sharing of knowledge, life skills and common bonds is outstanding in a FIRST team if the effort is put in by the coaches and mentors. Have attended 25 FIRST tournaments with my daughter and many other outstanding youth. Always a great time for them and me. Would not trade the experience for any other on a team or personal level.

We will provide mentoring and assistance to all other teams in FRC, FTC and FLL
P.Tucker MARS FRC 2614
GO MARS!! MARSFIRST.ORG

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Last year we started a FIRST Robotics Team with 7 high school students who just wanted to explore the field of competitive robotics. We had NO idea what we were getting into! After having been through the process of setting up a team, identifying mentors with experience in CAD design, Programming, Electrical Wiring and Mechanical Building, and taking those students through a six week build cycle to complete their first Regional Competition, I can say this is THE best engineering experience hands down. Over the course of the year we recruited 7 more students, raised money to fund our robotic team and got to work closely with industry professionals. Our team members learned what it's like to solve a real engineering problem with real time constraints and real resource limitations. No one is going to do it for you. Your team and the team dynamics are what you make of it. Your fundraising and team marketing is what you make of it. Your robot and your technical skills are as effective as the planning and training and effort that you put into it. It is a great model for the real working world. If you as a student want to be an engineer, this is the opportunity of a lifetime to gets hands-on experience working in a team environment on an engineering challenge that's too big for you to solve.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I'm a teacher at United High School in Armagh, PA. This program has helped steer many rural students, who thought they had no choice but to accept a career in local activities, to many different STEM careers. I have had many students go on to careers in engineering and computer programming as a direct result of FIRST.

Suzanne45

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The FIRST Robotics program has given 4-H members a wonderful opportunity: to work together with youth from various schools, mentor youth, learn from experts in the engineering field, time management skills, decision making skills and creative development. Youth who have been involved learned a great deal from the adult mentors and industry experts who offered to help. In the community, publicity from the project created a greater awareness of opportunities in the science field and robotics in our town. As a springboard, a summer robotics camp was launched to help provide a feeder system for the high school program. All aspects of the project have been positive. The most difficult part is the funding area which is very competitive in a small community. Thank you.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Why I keep coming back. The exhilaration of watching kids work together for a common goal! They believe that this is all about the “winning”. But it is about teamwork and becoming excited about science, technology, engineering and yes math too. We see young people, who say they hate these subjects; apply these skills to make the ‘bot better. In the meantime they are developing skills for the future. It’s making kids enjoy learning, interactively. As said by Bill Cosby, enjoy “but be careful you just might learn something.” And they do!! More than we can ever imagine.

2 Marcus3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My son and I started our local FIRST LEGO League team after researching many options for character building programs for youth. We landed on FLL because it combined my desire for character building (through its impressive core values) with his desire for something practical and fun.

Our first year has been one of the most exciting, challenging, rewarding, and insane things I have ever done.

I have never seen kids so dedicated to a program that has such practical implications for their future. These kids are learning the basics of robotics, team building, project management, work flow, and visual programming. They are also learning to dream big while still laying out the necessary steps to accomplishing that dream.

As a result of our efforts this year, the local school district is already planning and budgeting to support additional teams next year. We have a five year goal of expanding FIRST in our community to include FLL, FTC, and FRC.

On average, I volunteer 6 hours each week for FIRST. Four of those hours are hands on work with students. Two of those hours involve research and preparation using resources from FIRST and LEGO.

Review from CharityNavigator

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

FIRST LEGO League is the worst Non-profit organization that I have ever dealt with. They are rude to their volunteers and claim that the Partners in the state will provide training, medallions, etc. They provide nothing to the volunteers, teams or children. The staff in New Hampshire are incompetent and disorganized. When complaints are made against a partner they do nothing at all. I would not recommend this program to any school or community. It is expensive and does not even come close to meeting all that they claim in their marketing. Save your money and use EARLY robotics or Vex or anything else.

Review from Guidestar

2

Donor

Rating: 5

FIRST is an amazing program that gets high school students to bring together and share their creativity, enthusiasm, hard work, dedication, and incredible smarts to build a robot which competes with other schools around the world. In order to be successful, FIRST team's need several different types of skill sets from the students, ranging from math and engineering skills to build the robots, to business and marketing skills to fundraise and get free parts from companies. One of the best things about FIRST is they don't hold tryouts to be on the team like most high school sports. If you want to be involved and show initiative, then you're on the team! FIRST is one of the best high school programs around that prepares young minds for life after high school. FIRST is paving the way for the next generation of professionals which will one day run this country.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

FIRST Robotics Program is involves all 50 states, plus many countries. Its purpose is twofold: 1—Help students to develop 21st century skills that all employers are looking for such as: gracious professionalism (teamwork, leadership, problem solving, learning to work with other people, project management, meeting deadlines, working within a budget, etc.) 2—Get students interested in various careers including those that involve science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). They also provide opportunities for students interested in programming, web design, photography, public relations, marketing, creating business plans, team spirit and more. FIRST creates a school-to-career pipeline through which young people are inspired to explore opportunities in science and technology. By successfully forming coalitions with corporations, universities, and public schools, FIRST has become the premiere after-school engineering and robotics competition program in the nation.

The FIRST Robotics Competition began in 1992 with 28 teams in a New Hampshire high school gym. The FIRST LEGO League program was introduced in 1998, followed by both the FIRST Tech Challenge and the Junior FIRST LEGO League in 2007. Today, with the support of thousands of dedicated volunteers, the organization serves 196,000 students not only in asll 50 states, but also in 9 provinces and 38 countries.

Another of the key benefits of the FIRST programs that I have observed, is the proper behaviors it nurtures. Gracious professionalism and cooperation are FIRST’s core values, encouraging participants in all FIRST programs to do their best work. It is not about winning or losing, but working together to achieve a common goal. FIRST programs embrace and encourage students of varying interests, abilities, and academic competencies and foster participation by all youth, regardless of income, gender, ethnicity, or background.

This is a fantastic after school program for all youth--K-12-- to engage in.

Previous Stories
3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Two years ago I was introduced to a world I never knew existed--the world of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). I was invited to a high-school off-season robotics competition and saw unbridled enthusiasm among the students for learning about and creating robots, employing the disciplines of STEM. I have since observed another key attribute of FIRST: Gracious Professionalism. I see that FIRST is not only fostering a love of STEM, but is also instilling a real sense of citizenship in its participants by encouraging community service, teamwork, sportsmanship, respect for elders and authority, and mentoring of younger students. I have also witnessed how the program has transformed previously undirected youth into focused students with a thirst for obtaining higher education whether in STEM subjects or in Liberal Arts. I do not know of a better after-school program for today's youth and wish I had known about it for my own kids. I am a convert and will be a lifelong volunteer for this organization.

1 Bambi C.

Donor

Rating: 1

you state that the president gets a 229,000 annual salary on this site. And people are ginving it 5 stars? Wow! this blows my mind! Why would you want to donate to give the president a 229k annual salary? I will not give it 5 stars, nor 5.00.
People really need to looks at the profit statements, for the salary's before donating to their favorite charity's.
You may think twice. there are a lot of them out there that do not make these enormous salaries!

Review from CharityNavigator

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

For over 15 years, I've been involved with numerous activities/programs to encourage engineering at the pre-college level. This program does more to further that cause than any other program. However, it is much broader than that. It provides many kids who follow other paths with a good start in practical technology (in the broad sense of the term), math, science, and, of course, engineering. Many kids have learned they have abilities they were never aware of. It should be in every school.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

FIRST is an amazing organization and was just what my son was looking for in an extracurricular activity. My son has always loved science and was looking for more than school offered. We became involved with FIRST robotics when my son was in 4th grade. I became a mentor and worked with some great mentors to help the team find their passion in robotics and science. The students on the team learned to work as a team, to brainstorm and research a problem, build and program a robot, and present their research and solution to a problem in a creative way. I saw all of the students blossom. Their self esteem, organization, perserverance, and sense of community with others interested in science grew through the process of friendly competition through FIRST.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

FIRST offers students a view into the world of science and technology that they may not get in their regular school curriculum. It also emphasizes teamwork, problem-solving, and responsibility. It's amazing to see how the students get so excited and involved in the program.

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

FIRST is true to its name -- providing inspiration as well as an exposure to science and technology. Working with engineers and scientists, students learn much more than valuable technical skills. FIRST exposes the student with excitement of discovery, emphasizes team work, and asks every student and every mentor to exercise gracious professionalism. I have seen students grow in confidence and maturity -- looking ahead to careers that contribute to community and country.

7

Volunteer

Rating: 5

FIRST offers an incredible opportunity for students of all ages to discover their "hidden" talents in the areas of science and technology. I started two years ago with a small high school team who built what they called their "Ghetto-Bot" and competed in our local regional. This robot was built with chicken-wire, "Duct" tape and plywood, hence the name. Last year I coached, or co-coached a total of four teams, one at each grade level. The excitement and enthusiasm of my students (ages 8 through 17) was awe-inspiring! Some of these kids would have said they didn't know anything about science, or robots, or engineering yet, they managed to design, construct, program and operate a variety of robots. My original team (FRC)constructed a robot that truly looked "space-age" with seperate enclosed compartments for both the electronics and the pnuematics. They even contrived pnuematic shocks for the electronics box! My second high school team (FTC)went all to way to the World Championships after winning our local regional and an "Inovation in Design" award from a major aerospace company! This year we will have two of these teams competing as part of the new Robotics course I am teaching at our high school. My elementary teams are "chomping at the bit" to get started on this year's challenge! I cannot say enough about the level of empowerment this program is offering my students. They are so excited about participating in the program and having their ideas taken seriously that it boggles the mind! Yeah, F.I.R.S.T.!

7

Client Served

Rating: 5

As a university admissions official, I have been working with FIRST to provide scholarship opportunities to high school seniors involved in FIRST for the past four years. I am continually impressed by the caliber of the students involved in FIRST, as well as the ways in which FIRST encourages students of all grade levels to enjoy the creativity, teamwork and problem solving involved in meeting each year's robotics challenge. The relationships that students build with their mentors, and the team spirit that FIRST fosters through it's emphasis on gracious professionalism are quite remarkable! These students are generally highly motivated and well prepared for the challenges that wait for them in their university studies, as well as their life after FIRST. The fact that so many student participants become mentors as adults is a testament to the success of the program.

4

Donor

Rating: 5

As my company has been involved with FIRST for the past 5 years, we decided to increase our impact and offer scholarships to select participants of the 2010 competition. The FIRST organization attracts such a high caliber of students that it made our selection process a difficult, but enjoyable one. We were able to directly affect the students in a way that our company never has before. FIRST is a well oiled machine that helps companies positively impact students across the nation and world and encourage those students into the fields of science and engineering.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I started as a high school student in FIRST learning from Engineering mentors about concepts that were not touched in school. The experience helped me shape my motivations for an engineering degree and specifically a focus on Robotics. Now I spend my free time mentoring and teaching high school students in FIRST. The passion and dedication of volunteers in the organization keeps my excitement high every year I've been involved.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I got involved with FIRST because I was intrigued by the Founders notion that the education "problem" in the United States was a DEMAND problem as distingquished from a SUPPLY problem. "Kids don't stay in school because they can't get their hands on a good book". They don't stay in school and study because they don't understand why it is so important to their futures -- and so don't WANT to be in school. And rather than look to the government or to schools to generate demand, why not look to partner with BUSINESSES. Businesses have successfully generated demand for their products for generations, and so they are uniquely qualified to help generate demand to learn -- paaticularly to learn about things that businessess understand will impact the quality of life for all people on our planet. Armed with this theory, I convinced my company to sponsor a team in Detroit, Michigan. The school would not let me meet with large groups of students as they were afraid of a riot. So, I went classroom to classrom, convincing kids that they wanted to join the new FIRST team. I promised fun and good PR. The kids flat out told me no one would come see the robot they were supposed to build. They told me they were interested in jobs. So, to motivate them to join the team, we promised two team leaders summer internships. And we promised we would pay for the team of kids who actively participated to go to the finals at Disney. Thirty-six kids came EVERY meeting to design and build the robot, design team T-Shirts, organize fundraisers and document their experience. These same kids on their own got dressed up and made formal presentations to the comapany president. The team changed the kids -- gave them an insight into what they could do with themselves if they worked hard, stayed in school and took some math and science classes. It changed the employees who developed a new appreciation for themselves (they were heroes to the kids) and for one another. And this transformation took place in about eight weeks as the team of adults and students came together to solve a problem without enough resources, and without enough time. And they produced a great, attractive robot and won Rookie of the Year! A demand to learn was born, as was a new respect for scientists, engineers and mathematicians.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is one great organizational structure with vision--and a lot of "fun" work opportunities. No other group for which I have volunteered has provided such an intensive feeling of accomplishment. My involvement has allowed me to be involved one-on-one with students to motivate and be motivated. Working with the other judges, I have been involved in some intense discussions of which team should get a particular award. In the back-and-forth evaluations of performance against criteria, I am amazed each year that we can actually come to a consensus, always with an overriding concern for the students on a team at the forefront of our deliberations.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a chemical engineer, I have always looked for ways to encourage more of our children to study math and science. The challenge comes with fighting the stereotype that those subjects are hard and boring. When I started volunteering at FIRST events over 12 years ago, I knew I had found an organization that not only challenged those sterotypes, but busted them to pieces! FIRST is the only organization I've found that inspires kids to push the envelope in math & science while simultaneously linking those concepts to solving fun, real world engineering problems. The FIRST experience brings kids from vastly different backgrounds and skill sets together, giving them a common goal - "Building a machine to effectively play our game". Coming together into one cohesive team are the "jocks", the "mechanics", the "programming geeks", the "fundraisers", the "cheerleaders" and the "business folks" - kids that normally wouldn't socialize together, but all necessary parts of a succesful FIRST team. FIRST relies heavily on volunteers who, after attending an event, inevitably want to assist in the non-profit's mission. They get hooked! Engineers and scientists from many well-known companies like GM, ExxonMobil, Lucent, and AT&T as well as federal agencies such as NASA, the US Army and the NSA, have volunteered as team mentors. Mentorship is a critical component allowing kids to see their potential and put their academic knowledge into practice. Mentors provide vision, inspiration, encouragement, technical know-how and love, all the key ingredients a child needs to grow strong. FIRST gets kids excited and wanting to learn more! One measure of FIRST's success is the number of team alumni that return after graduation to become team mentors or sponsors. Numerous teams have a well-defined lineage, anxious to show off their "family trees". Many times team alumni end up sponsoring new teams to promote FIRST's growth. Unlike many organizations that try to force growth, FIRST growth is organic - happening because it is such a posiive experience. People of all ages can't get enough and are anxious to stay engaged. Core to the FIRST mission is a concept called "Gracious Professionalism". So, while there is friendly competition at a FIRST event, you also see an incredible amount of teams helping other teams to succeed. I've witnessed one team help another to completely rebuild a robot that had fallen apart, only to be beaten by them later in the day. Why would they do that? The answer is simple ... FIRST structures events to be a "Co-opertition". The team you're playing against today is a team you may be partnered with tomorrow. It is always in each team's best interest to make sure they have healthy competitors because they don't know who they'll be partnered up with at any given moment! Finally, FIRST heavily promotes community outreach. Teams are encouraged to spread the word of math and science to their communities. Ive seen teams give demonstrations of their robot creations at shopping malls, State Fairs and even the White House! FIRST teams have managed to get coverage in newspapers, on television and in magazines. One Canadian team appeared in three episodes of the popular television show "Degrassi Junior High" touting the benefits of math & science using their robots. I've also seen teams target at risk children, using robotics to get them interested in school again and showing them their potential. The success is found in the numbers - over 88% of the kids involved in FIRST go on to college. To an inner city school, FIRST is an invaluable program to keep kids interested in continuing their education. One final, amazing point ... well over 95% of all the FIRST activities throughout the world are planned, organized and executed by volunteers. This allows money that is raised to go to where it is needed most. It's also a strong indication of how effective the FIRST program is. Sometimes FIRST can be "organized chaos", but with the focus remaining on the kids, it always manages to be a great success. I will continue volunteering for FIRST because I truly believe it's the education model we need for a successful future.

4

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

For the past three years I have attended various FIRST Robotic Events both at the regional and national competitions, as Johnson & Wales University is a scholarship provider. From the organizers down to the students, I have been impressed with the different events FIRST puts on. Engineers are needed badly in the workforce and FIRST has provided an opportunity at such a young age for students to work on big projects. These projects have helped develop the technology skills that lay a great foundation for their future careers in technology. We look forward to working with FIRST for many years to come.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

FIRST, with all of its competitions (FIRST Robotics, Lego League, etc) provides an opportunity for students in elementary, middle, and high school to become and remain excited about science, math, and engineering. Students in middle and high school often start to question why they are studying math and science -- the FIRST competitions, along with the mentor relationships that are developed, allow students to apply math and science in a fun way, which keeps them interested. As important as the math and science that students learn are the teamwork, problem-solving, and communication skills that FIRST emphasizes. These skills will prepare students for a lifetime of achievement, irrespective of the field that they choose to study and pursue.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

FIRST Robotics is an amazing organization that empowers students and encourages them to be the next generation of innovators. It teaches them to have realistic role models and expectations of their futures. It encourages them to excel at all they do and fosters a love of learning. Not only all that, but it is fun, too! I have been involved with this organization for 7 years and have watched the students learn and grow. My own children have become better people as a result of their involvemnet.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

Hi, my name is Catherine Roney, i'm from Michigan, and I am a freshman at the University of South Carolina. I'm new to the University and so excited to get started with a whole new chapter of my life. The reason I am writing this review though is not about me, it is about FIRST. I'm sure there is much information available from multiple sources about this organization, and I encourage you to look at some of their accomplishments, they are highly impressive. The reason for my review though is to let you know about the FIRST program, which I have tried to portray through my own personal experiences, and hopefully persuade you to choose FIRST as one of the top ten science and tech nonprofits. Alright, here goes. I was a previous FIRSTer. In case you don't know what that means, I was part of a robotics team my senior year of high school that competed in the FIRST competition. FIRST stands For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, it's a mouthful, isn't it? I don't know if you have ever been to a FIRST competition before, and if you have been, I hope you know what I mean when I say it is an experience you'll never forget. I have to say, the energy present at any FIRST competition is invigorating. Those who go, get excited, and they might not even know what they are excited about in some cases. They will see teams work together to do their best in each match, and all the while have fun. Yet, even though the energy level is fun and upbeat, there is still an air of comfort present. What do I mean by this? Well, I have personally experienced and witnessed changes in people when they get involved with FIRST. FIRST is not only a place for people to learn about science and technology and how to build robots, it is a place to learn about oneself. People who normally would be reserved and keep to themselves, open up, make friends, and figure out what they want to do in life. This may all sound cliche but I could not be more sincere and honest with my words. The atmosphere surrounding all that FIRST is involved in is a fantastic learning environment not only for engineer majors, but multiple other majors as well. In fact, I was in charge of all other aspects needed to be done for FIRST to be a team when I was involved with FIRST. Submissions for FIRST awards require literacy and eloquence in writing, getting to know the community and the community to know the team is essential for a team's survival, and even business plans are made. Thus, anyone could join and benefit from being a part of FIRST. There is so much more to FIRST and how influential and important it is to those involved. I do hope you will take what I have said into consideration when deciding upon the top ten science and tech nonprofits. I wish you all the best and thank you so much for your time.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been a FIRST volunteer for 8 years. The robots, competitions, and all the excitement are fantastic yet what makes FIRST stand out for me, and why I continue to volunteer is the impact it has on students. Every year, I am amazed and impressed to see the creativity students use to solve the challenge. Without the boundary of being told that something is too hard or that something is impossible, the students accomplishments are amazing. Beyond the creativity, what I find most special about FIRST is how it builds self confidence and instills a sense of gracious professionalism in students. It's rare these days to see an organization that fosters hard competition AND at the same time maintains the perspective that HOW you win or lose is also important. Students need to learn how to win and how to lose. FIRST does a great job of giving students the opportunity to learn these lessons.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

FIRST is an amazing organization. The premise is to encourage young folks to pursue fields in science and technology. FIRST initially started as the FIRST Robotics Competition (FTC). Then they believed that children needed to get excited about technology prior to high school, so they teamed up with LEGO and had the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) for middle schoolers (9-14 years old). Now it has expanded to Junior FIRST LEGO League (6-9 year olds) and FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) an alternative to FRC for high school-aged students. FIRST focuses on "Gracious Professionalism." In practice, what this means is that team members will work with other teams to assist them. That includes sharing robotics parts, helping them program the robot, and even borrowing a robot when one was dropped during a competition event. Gracious Professionalism is a wonderful concept to instill in young people.

2

Donor

Rating: 5

As Scholarship Coordinator for the College of Engineering at the University of Missouri, I have attended regional competitions to promote the University-sponsored FIRST scholarships. I have been impressed with the quality of these competitions and the enthusiasm for learning it has promoted in the student participants. FIRST helps students become well-rounded individuals with a focus on developing their technological skills.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I became aware of FIRST Robotics during a competition that was held at the Kennedy Space Center. At that time I was a member of the Astronaut Corps and was invited to the competition by another astronaut, Dave Brown. I was amazed at the quality of the robots and the level of competition. Since that time I have become involved both from a planning perspective as well as a judge and a judge advisor for the Oklahoma Regional, the Dallas Regional and the National Competition in Atlanta. FIRST provides students with a way to increase their knowledge of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by working alongside highly talented volunteer engineers and scientists. They work in a real world environment with limited budgets and strict time-lines to produce high quality and technically proficient robots. They take their finished product and compete at regional and national competitions against equally talented and competitive robots. FIRST teaches these students about the value of learning by doing and competing with others in a professional and gracious manner. The skill sets they learn through FIRST are incredibly valuable to their lifelong learning and professional development. I highly recommend that communities work to make FIRST a part of their educational goals for all students in their regions.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was asked in 2002 to attend a local FIRST robotics competition as a judge. The experience was fantastic and I knew from the start that FIRST was and still is the best organization to help excite kids to embrace science and math as a carreer of choice. FIRST has a wide range of carreer orientaed taasks for high school kids of all interests to become involved. Yes, the comptition of robots is a common goal of the teams but this is only on the surface. Once you dig deeper into the goal of each team, you will find the computer nerds to handle software issues, the mechanics to handle the machine functions, the business students to organize funding, yearly events, end etc. Junior lego competitions engage 6 - 9 year olds, LEGO competitions are for 9 year olds to 8th grade, and FIRST tech challenge and/or FIRST Robotics Competions are for High School age students. Many corporations sponsor FIRST competitions and teams within their community. Without corporate spoonsors, the students would not be able to compete (or learn) at a global level to be prepared for industry after high school. FIRST is the only organization that truely prepares participants for the challenges after high school by partnering the kids with scientist, engineers, and other professionals to complete and compete in a challenge that changes yearly, exposing the kids to new technology along the way. All high schools should allocate money to support a local team to have the opportunity to compete in this World Class organization.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am the Principal Investigator for the TIME Center (Technology and Innovation in Manufacturing and Engineering), a Regional Center of Excellence funded by the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education Program. We have worked closely with our statewide community college partners, regional FIRST partners and various stakeholder groups to support FIRST robotics as a very effective means of engaging students in problem-based learning activities that spur their innovative thinking and creative problem-solving. It has also proven to be an equally effective means of encouraging students to enter and persist in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education programs and careers. The rebuilding and repair of the STEM pipeline is critical to the continuing success of the United States in maintaining and enhancing its position in the global manufacturing and engineering marketplace, and the FIRST program has proven its value in contributing to that task. On a personal level, I have been truly impressed with the excitement, energy and enthusiasm of the students who participate in FIRST Robotics, and the impact that their participation has on their perception of themselves and the work world they will eventually manage. I am just as impressed with the commitment of the numerous volunteers, teachers, mentors, family members and corporate partners to the very important goals of the FIRST Robotics program, and the enthusiasm with which they demonstrate that commitment. Recent research we conducted also shows that the FIRST Robotics program is attracting more women and minorities to its activities and to STEM educational programs and careers generally, a critical need as we move toward a more diverse, global workforce.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have worked with students for the last 17 years, starting with my own when they were in kindergarten. My goal in doing so was to encourage them to look at science and math (STEM) topics, stay interested in them, and use them in real life situations. Following my kids all through school, I stuck with the task of trying to teach them at school and at home when possible. Fortunately, I was introduced to FIRST almost five years ago. Once I saw what it was, it hit me that this program is the culmination of all that I had strived to teach. In addition, it had the other topics I never was able to quite wrap around, like business and public relations and fundraising. For the last four-plus years, I have worked with my kids and their friends for about 360 hours during each six-week build season in January and February plus hundreds more hours throughout the year. My goal was to help the team’s students (and my kids) achieve things they never knew could be possible. FIRST is like that, you work towards the main goal of building and competing with a robot and you may never quite realize that what you are learning is much more than how to build a robot. I know now it is about dealing with people, learning to share, learning most importantly to give back to the community you live in. Some teams may worry about winning, raising the most money, going to lots of competitions, and bringing home many awards but this misses the point. The big picture is much more than this. For all its technology, math, science, and competition, FIRST is really about people and learning how to deal with them and most importantly, learning how to give back. Ultimately, FIRST teaches you to be a better student, parent, and educator. And it is fun. Isn’t this what learning is supposed to be all about?

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been the New England Admission Counselor/Assistant Director of Admission for Florida Tech now entering my 12th year. My very first experience with FIRST was at a WPI/NCSSSMST conference, where I saw the history of FIRST. Then I began to experience the energy, the commitment, the competition of all that FIRST involves. Then, when Florida Tech's freshmen robotics team WON a major competition, and 4 out of the 5 were from New England AND ALL were FIRST competitors, I participated in any and all regional FIRST events. Scholarship Row allowed colleges to be in the hall. Florida Tech guarantees ALL a $10,000 scholarship, if they are academically scholarship qualified for FIRST participation. For my university, and for many more, FIRST is symbolic with excellence, creativity, competition, teamwork and pure love of science. FIRST deserves and has earned your recognition and your support.

3

Donor

Rating: 5

Since learning about FIRST in 2007, our company has supported FIRST programs and I have personally participated in programs and at events. What I have observed is an amazing program that engages children from grade school through high school in more than just robotics, it gets them interested in technology, science and math careers. It takes something that could be intimidating and presents it in a way that all can learn and participate. Not only does it support STEM education but teaches SO MUCH MORE. Its theme of Gracious Professionalism teaches students that it is inot always about winning but the importance of working together and helping others. In addition, teams and partcipants are encouraged to share the message in the community, mentor younger children and provide community service. It is a remarkable organization and I am proud to be a part of the FIRST family.

3

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

First Robotics is a truly inspiring program. It sucessfully brings together industry, universities, and high schools to build and support the pipline of students who will go into the technological workforce.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

FIRST is an organization that seeks to make science and technology interesting and exciting to students through robotics competitions. As well as encouraging teamwork and "gracious professionalism" FIRST hopes the excitement of participation in the competitions will contribute to students staying in school and thinking about post-secondary education in science and Engineering. I am a Professional Engineer and I have judged at many competions over the past seven years. It is inspiring to me to see students excited about the technology of robots, but also very motivating to see the teamwork and growth in the students. Experienced teams help inexperienced teams, older students mentor younger students and past participants come back and assist. FIRST is truly an amazing program and I am grateful for my participation, and to the visionaries who created and continue to lead this effort.

3

Donor

Rating: 5

FIRST is a truly unique organization which helps encourage students from all walks of life to get excited and learn about science and engineering. FIRST creates and organizes events nationwide which encourages students to apply knowledge in a fun filled game that requires teamwork, on the spot thinking and creatvity. It is such a fun experience watching these kids compete, and see how excited they can get about science. The program is helping recruit future scientists and engineers, all while letting the kids have a lot of fun.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

FIRST Robotics tournaments are the single most exciting outreach activity that I have had an opportunity to witness. As a tournament judge, I am able to interact directly with students who work tremendously hard over a very short 6-week period to build robots for a specified challenge. It is amazing to see what students can do, if you just challenge them. And the FIRST organization does just that. The challenges are difficult, they require time, energy, and resource, but the students get it done anyway. More important is the focus of FIRST on transforming the culture. The award structure celebrates creativity and outreach through a philosophy of gracious professionalism (a term coined by FIRST officials), and a lot of the FIRST teams really get it -- and they know how to reach their school-aged peers. Finally, the FIRST tournaments are like attending a March-Madness basketball event. Music, dancing, and enthusiasm to beat the band. I even saw the band from the Bedford Stuyvesant school in Brooklyn perform at the NY city regional tournament this past spring. It was awesome. If you ever have a chance to go to a FIRST tournament, do yourself and your kids a favor -- just go and see with your own eyes. I guarantee you will have a renewed view of robots and young people in general.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I work for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and we give scholarships to worthy students who participate on a FIRST Team. Between working for ASME and as a member I have been able to open up the eyes of many coworkers and other volunteers to see all the good that can come from these kids being on a FIRST Robotics team. In the 4years I have participated I have watch freshman evolve into young adults who have a solid knowledge of what they want to do in the engineering fields and other aspects of life. they have learned to work together for the greater good of the team and learned invaluable life lessons from thier mentors and other teams. I am pleased to see how many high school students come back to thier FIRST Robotic's team to mentor when they can. FIRST has made math and science fun, entertaining, educational and most of all for everyone, not just the geeks... These kids get on the job, hands on training on what they learn in class and then they see how it all clicks and works together in the real world. that is invaluable.

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

FIRST is amazing. The goal of FIRST is to inspire students in the areas of science, engineering, and technology. FIRST uses robot competitions to bring together students to work with engineers and other business people to design a build a robot to meet a challenging competition. I have the privilege of judging the teams in various aspects of team attributes and machine attributes. It is amazing to be able to walk into a group of high school students and ask them to explain complex mechanical designs and to feel the excitement as they relate to you incredible details about their robot, or how they manage their team, or their community outreach. One of my more memorable experiences occurred during the 2009 Championship in Atlanta. I was assigned several teams to interview for an award, one of the teams was from a facility for troubled youth. Students must earn their way onto the team and can only remain on the team if their behavior is exemplary. These students worked hard to build a robot and make it to first a regional competition in Colorado where they achieved the highest honor, the Chairman's Award. This award earned them a trip to the championship in Atlanta. The students on the team related how their FIRST robotics experience has changed their lives. One student plans to mentor other FIRST robotics teams in the area when he graduates.

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

FIRST speaks in a powerful voice to the best and brightest students, letting them know that their interest in science and technology is a good thing. FIRST provides an safe environment that fosters, encourages, and frankly celebrates this interest. Students meet others across the globe who share a passion for technology, and learn that they are not alone or outliers or somehow not worthy of adulation and respect. FIRST competitions bring forward many of the values enhanced by traditional school activities like sports or social clubs. FIRST students learn the value of teamwork, refine leadership skills, understand their contribution to the team's functioning, learn what it takes to be a gracious winner and competitor, and learn to honor themselves and respect their talents. I support FIRST in part because I wish it existed when I was in high school--it would have brought me much self-confidence to have the opportunity to spend time with legions of like-minded students.