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Founders Welcome

For over a quarter of a century, FIRST has been influencing our planet’s future by introducing kids to the fun and boundless career possibilities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Today, we have a growing army of over 400,000 young people around the globe building robots, competing cooperatively, celebrating scientists and engineers like they do rock stars and athletes…and having the time of their lives.

In truth, FIRST is not about robots. It’s about developing future generations of innovators, tinkerers, doers, and thinkers —young people who’ll possess the 21st century skills needed to take on the hundreds of thousands of jobs (in the U.S. alone) that go begging for qualified workers each year. The knowledge they master, the critical thinking they develop, and the self-confidence they gain is exactly what employers of today and tomorrow are seeking. FIRST programs are designed to foster those needed skill sets through problem-based learning and hands-on experiences. Robots are just the “honey” we use to attract kids to something that ultimately becomes much bigger than themselves.

Throughout this program guide, you’ll see the names of organizations across a diverse set of industries — including many Fortune® 500 companies — that support FIRST with unbridled generosity. We’re also powered and inspired by over 150,000 passionate adults who freely volunteer their time to mentor, guide, referee, fund, and do whatever it takes to make FIRST happen. We are truly a global family sharing the belief that humankind’s future is in the hands of inspired young people who believe that anything is possible. We are indebted to all who tirelessly help our mission.

This year’s Championship has expanded across the city of St. Louis, and features elementary and middle-school kids sharing all they’ve discovered about ways to improve learning through their Jr.FLL THINK TANKSM (Junior FIRST® LEGO® League) and FLL WORLD CLASSSM ( FIRST® LEGO® League) Challenges. Middle and high-school students compete on playing fields with team-designed robots in CASCADE EFFECTSM ( FIRST® Tech Challenge) and RECYCLE RUSHSM ( FIRST® Robotics Competition). Watching them perform is amazing!

One of many life skills all FIRST participants learn and practice is something you’ll see demonstrated wherever you go during your Championship visit. We call it “Gracious Professionalism®” − kids interacting positively, sharing ideas, offering help to their competitors, and being polite to all. Our kids have embraced it and freely spread it!

We owe special thanks to: the city of St. Louis, hosting us for our fifth consecutive year and generously spreading the word about our mission; the Governor of the great state of Missouri; the Mayor of St. Louis; and, the many local businesses, citizens, and tireless Volunteers who support us. Thank you all!

One final thought: We urge you to get involved in some way. Become a Mentor. Help raise funds. Sponsor a team. Commit your company’s time, people, and resources. It all starts at usfirst.org.

Best of luck to all FIRST teams and let the fun begin!