How Participants, Mentors, and People alike feel how they have benefited from F.I.R.S

My name is Jessica and currently i am writing a paper on the benefits of first robotics and how it not inly benefits the participants but everybody alike.

If you wish to share how you’ve benefited or know a good website, book, article or even newspaper article talking about the benefits of F.I.R.S.T. i’d love to hear about it.

You can e-mail me at or leave a link/your story as a comment. And who knows, i might even put you in my paper :slight_smile:

Thanks to all my fellow robotics lovers,

Jessica Hageman
Team 2156

The obvious book is “The New Cool” by Neal Bascom

A bit old but Behind the design 2006 and the 2007 are great reads.
2006’s book was helpful. :3


You could also check out the book “Imagine, Design, Create”. There is a great story about FIRST starting on page 104 of the book or page 53 of the .pdf found at this link You can find the book and the link to the pdf on our website as well at

Kim Campbell-Djuric
Autodesk, Inc.

Here are two stories about a nice girl from Indiana.

LRIs actually discussed this in a way during an informal discussion. We asked each other why we stay in First. There is the real answer that we like fooling around with machines but we all seemed to agree that the ability to share our knowledge and “geekiness” with others was a prime reason. I know what the program means to students like my own two children. I know that it is making better young people who can see what it is like to contribute to something bigger than themselves. First is giving a reason to live and participate to many students who would continue to wander without purpose. These students are now finding a reason to study, a light at the end of the tunnel if you will. If we can turn that light on, we are doing a good job.
As far as a benefit to me, the training we receive in dealing with a short build, thinking outside of the box, interacting with people who are our competition but are great friends, and the ability to think way beyond the rules is a great benefit to my job. It allows us to look at problems as nothing more than pebbles in the road. It sets a reference for us to gauge ideas, and sort through fluff in meetings and planning. All of this is a good feeling. When laying in bed at the end of a long day, I can smile and try to fall asleep knowing I did something good today. Learning something new everyday is easy, and like my signature I hope it can be easy for you as well.
Good Luck writing your assignment.

I echo your experience of the intangible benefits. On the more concrete side of things, I know several of my students have received scholarships and job offers as a result of their FRC involvement… however a totally unexpected spin off for me was that my involvement as the lead teacher of team 1346 helped lead to my current, post-secondary teaching position.

I’ll also echo the words of thousands of students when I say that through FRC I’ve made many friends whom I would simply have otherwise never met.

So while I thought my involvement in FRC would be primarily altruistic, I have to say that it has given back to me at least as much as I have put in.


There is a thread from 2009 titled “How has robotics affected you?” I’m sure you can get a lot of background there.

I have it bookmarked mainly for a wonderful post in that thread from a former MOE student that validates why I am in FIRST. Here is the text of that post.

I want to begin for apologizing for the inevitable length of this post.

In the spring of 2002, I was a high school junior in Middletown, Delaware. Much to my surprise, I was asked by my chemistry teacher to attend an assembly to learn more about a local robotics team. I was excited, not for the content of the presentation, but for the fact that it was going to prevent me from having to do a day’s worth of mindless oxidation/reduction reaction calculations.

I entered the auditorium where about 100 other students were sitting and was immediately captured by a pair of sizeable, bright green robots sitting on the stage. After a barrage of video clips and some demonstrations from the previous years’ robots, the head mentor - John Larock - gave all of us an open invitation to learn more and to apply for the 2003 team at an open house being held at the team headquarters, which was located in Wilmington (30 minutes north). I was ecstatic about this program. I used to love robotics competitions that, at that time, were popular on TV. I encouraged a few other classmates, but I was only recruit from Middletown. It could have been easy to make the assumption the team was disappointed with the small showing of support.

Shortly after school let out for the summer, I eagerly attended the open house and learned about team 365 - The Miracle Workerz - and about FIRST. They stressed the multi-faceted program and their goals to inspire young engineers and help their community, but I only cared about 1 thing: wining a robotics competition. See, I was barely 16 and had a long list of character flaws (immature, brash, and over-competitive to name just a few). I was also eager to do everything within my control to help the team succeed (on the field).

After 4-5 months of MOE University (a series of courses where students learn to use machines, prototype mechanisms, and build a finished robot) the 2003 FIRST season finally started. The game was “Stack Attack” and despite it being my first year on the team, I applied to become the team’s driver. I memorized the manual, drew up strategic plays in history class, and practiced driving an extra chassis whenever the CIM’s were cool enough. I was named head driver and continued to be vigilant in my training. I also made time (by coming in at least 6 nights a week - every week) to help design the drive train for the front 2 wheels.

My ability to work on machinery was limited to changing the oil in my truck. Beyond that, I had absolutely no experience or even knowledge beyond high school physics of how to “make stuff work.” I’ll never forget when an engineering mentor - Joe Perrotto - in a 5 minute conversation handed me spec sheets on a CIM motor and a Bosch motor as well as an MMC manual and told me to design a gearbox. He saw that my eyes were as big as grapefruits and further explained that he wanted the CIM to go through a gearbox so it would spin at the same rate as the Bosch motor and that I should create this gear-down by using 2 stages. He told me that this was my responsibility, that he had confidence in me, and that I could only go to him for help (so another mentor wouldn’t inadvertantly give me all the answers). It’s moments like these whose impact is often under-estimated.

By competition time, I had grown in my technical knowledge, but I still lacked the maturity that the program required. I took losses too personally and I unknowingly upset several mentors and teammates. I was so upset after a match at championships where our partner ran their autonomous program despite agreeing not to (thus we were DQ’d for the match for burning a hole in the carpet) that I spouted off “I would have thrown the match if I would have known they got us DQ’d.” Just typing out the words I said 7 years ago gives me an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach. I started to realize that this response was horrible and unwarranted and I sat down and spoke with the coaches. They urged me to go and speak with the other team and try to clear things up. I was so amazed with how nice they were to me when I went to apologize to them, despite my rude behavior less than an hour prior. When you’re on a team, it’s important to remember that your actions and lapses in judgement reflect as much on your team as they do on yourself. I embarrassed my team and I let a large number of mentors and teammates down when I decided to express my emotions inappropriately.

It wasn’t until a few years later that I truly realized the importance of my experiences with MOE and FIRST. I maintain that my acting out at championships was the first time I took accountability for an action that I probably could gotten away with. To this day, I have never broken 100 in golf because I count every mis-hit and penalty stroke due in part to the integrity that was instilled in me by a bunch of mentors in lime-green shirts. I walked into the DuPont conference room for the MOE open house with an interest in math and science and walked out a year later with an enthusiasm for engineering. I went to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering. I followed my interests to Louisiana and now work as a reliability engineer for industrial equipment in the petroleum and chemical industries. I was taught the importance of mentoring young people. Since my time with MOE, I helped form a team at my former high school, mentored 2 teams in other states, and now judge at least 1 regional a year.

My journey with FIRST is not over. This year, I was reminded of the true spirit of FIRST when a team failed to get inspected until the Saturday morning of their regional. On Saturday, in 3 matches, they moved a total of 15 feet. When I looked at the drive team, I saw 2 teenagers who spent months working every waking moment high-fiving one another and jumping up and down because “it moved.” I am inspired by every FIRST student and mentor that I meet. I am appreciative of the personal and professional development the program has afforded me. Most importantly, I am thankful to very pacient mentors who molded a very difficult child into a (hopefully) less difficult adult with a promising future.

I again apologize if I went a lot deeper than was intended. I’ve been wanting to write a lot of these things for a long time and finally felt I had the opportunity. Thank you for reading my story.

For me FIRST is a bit like Star Trek. Star Trek was an appealing TV series for me not just for the exploration and special effects, etc., but also because it portrayed an idealized future. A future where we had risen above many of the short comings of the current human existence and found a higher purpose as a whole society. One that valued exploration and the pursuit of knowledge more than the accumulation of wealth.

To me that is FIRST. In the real world the best products or designs might never get built because the market is not quite right, or because of a lack of management insight or boldness, or any number of real world limitations. But FIRST is a more safe place than the real world. A place where risk taking is, well, less risky. Where you can leave all of the real world barriers behind and pursue a pure engineering challenge and take it as far as you like. The real world will probably never see the level of opportunity, cooperation, and courtesy you find in FIRST, but it is sure fun to think it might.

Beam me up Dean.

WOW! Thanks everybody for your support…and i have The New Cool on hand too (just got it).