FIRST Robotics Encourages Healthy Competition and Strong Relationships With Engineering Field
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teams can compete at the highest level while still cooperating and therefore promote a positive experience for all. FIRST has coined expressions that speak to this. “Coopertition” speaks to these ideals, where teams consistently help each other to get better. “Gracious Professionalism” is the second ideal that FIRST robotics teams continue to emulate. We cheer each other on and do not question the judges’ decision. These ideals are sometimes hard to find in society, but common among FIRST teams. As Dean Kamen says, “this is a sport that everyone can go pro.” I would add that we have a lot of fun doing it.
—Inspiration for the Future: The difference from FIRST and other programs that have students doing STEM-related activities, even other robotics competitions, are the mentors. FIRST teams go to great lengths developing relationships with sponsoring corporations—in part to raise the funds to compete. We also explain to each of our sponsors how valuable the mentor/student connection is. This way, the members of our team are introduced to current engineering practices, while mentors and sponsors are developing the next generation of engineers.
We only have two years of graduates in college and at this point I can already point to examples of students in engineering programs. Specifically, at the two regionals we just attended. One of our graduates was helping out at the WPI regional and another former Ligerbot is at Northeastern University and a mentor on another FIRST team. We have also placed several members with sponsors for internships.