Founding of FIRST

FIRST, founded in 1989, is one of Dean Kamen’s better known creations. Kamen is also the founder and president of DEKA Research & Development Corporation, which develops its own inventions and also performs R & D for outside clients. Dean Kamen holds more than 400 patents and was awarded the National Medal of Technology in 2000; he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in May 2005. Some of his inventions are:

  • FIRST wearable drug infusion pump
  • FIRST portable insulin pump
  • FIRST portable kidney dialysis machine
  • Independence IBOT Transporter
  • Segway Human Transporter (HT)


Leagues and Competitions

Jr.FLL (Jr. FIRST LEGO League) – Ages 6-9

The Junior FIRST Lego League began in 2004 as a pilot program and officially started in 2007. A maximum of six children per team build a model robot made with LEGO bricks and moving parts. For the 2011-12 season, there are 2,600 teams from the United States, Canada, Belgium, Israel, the Netherlands, Spain and the U.K. Close to 15,600 students participate in more than 80 expositions.
For information: FIRST: JFLL

FLL (FIRST LEGO League) – Ages 9-14

Founded in 1999, FIRST Lego League requires three to ten children per team to design, build, and program an autonomous robot using Lego Mindstorms technologies. For the 2011-12 season, there are over 19,800 teams with 198,000 students participating. Teams from more than 60 countries compete in 560 qualifying tournaments and 120 championship tournaments. The FIRST LEGO League World Festival will be held in St. Louis, Missouri, at the FIRST Championship, April 25-28, 2012.
For information: FIRST: FLL

FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge) – High School

Founded in 2005, FIRST Tech Challenge teams use the Vex Robotics Design System to design/build robots to compete in a FIRST-designed game. For the 2011-12 season, there will be 21,000 students on 2,100 teams competing in more than 100 qualifying and championship tournaments, culminating in the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship in St. Louis, Missouri, at the FIRST Championship, April 25-28, 2012. Teams come from the United States, Australia, Canada, China, India, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Mexico.
For information: FIRST: FTC

FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) – High School

Beginning in 1992, the FIRST Robotics Competition challenges teams of young people and their mentors to solve a common problem in a six-week time frame using a standard “kit of parts” and a common set of rules. Teams build robots from the parts and enter them in competitions designed by Dean Kamen, Dr. Woodie Flowers, and a committee of engineers and other professionals. In 1992, 28 teams competed. The 2012 season will involve 2,300 teams with 58,000 students participating. Teams from the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Dominican Republic, Germany, Israel, Mexico, Taiwan, Turkey and the U.K. will compete in 14 District competitions and 54 Regional and State Championships. More than 350 teams will advance to the FIRST Championship in St. Louis, Missouri.
For information: FIRST: FRC


Overall Reach

  • 248,000+ students, including 67,000+ high school students
  • 20,675+ robots
  • 22,475+ teams
  • 66,000+ mentors
  • 33,000+ event volunteers

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