What Exactly Does FIRST Mean To You?

Basically in this thread, I’d like to know your opinions and thoughts on FIRST itself. What has this program taught you? What strengths and weaknesses has FIRST given to you/taken away? How has FIRST impacted your everyday life?
Things like that…and you definitely don’t have to be brief. I just would love to see your opinions and personal thoughts on FIRST.
I’ll give my own once I see quite a few posts. Happy posting! :]

If nothing’s going wrong, then there is something seriously wrong.

I used to like doing things my way before FIRST. When I got into robotics, however, I realized that that was stupid and there was NO way whatsoever that we could get everything done if everyone did what I used to do.

I learned that to get something done, one has to have the INITIATIVE. If there is no initiative in an individual or, more importantly, a team, the goal will not be accomplished. People can talk a big game, but unless they start working on what they talk about, nothing will get done.

FIRST also taught me how to stand up for what I believe. When someone doesn’t like your design, for example, I’ve realized that while compromise is good, supporting why your think something would work is equally as good. And at group meetings, I’ve learned to say what I think could be improved (IMPORTANT: in a non-offensive manner) and to not be scared of what others will think. Everyone has an equal opportunity.

(I’d go on and on. But I gotta go to church now :stuck_out_tongue: ) FIRST has given me so much knowledge, but ALSO so many qualities that I can apply to my life! That is what is so wonderful about it.

That everything’s politics. Everything.

FIRST is unique compared to other programs. FIRST doesn’t just help a person in one specific area, but rather in a plethora of areas.

When I joined the robotics team at my school, I thought all I would learn was how to build robots. Now, I did learn that… however, I also learned so much more.
FIRST has taught me that there is always more to learn. Every time I think that FIRST has taught me all it can, it teaches me more.

to me FIRST means a world that i can meet totally cool people and have loads of fun learning-- i’m totally being honest here-- i love meeting everyone and having fun learning from my teammates and mentors and from other teams

this organization simply teaches me soo much and i thanks everyone for teaching me new things and big thanks to dean kamen for starting this-- it’s such a great program

enjoy y’all-- oh and yes everything is politics it always will be


FIRST has ironed in some good things into my life. It has put into me the ability to work well with a team and as part of a team, an experience that is unreal, and more importantly, a future that gets better and better every day.

FIRST is a place where we improve our skills in creativity, teamwork, and logical problem solving.

FIRST is awesome, and i agree with tiffany, you meet a lot of new people. FIRST means a lot to me, but i really wanna talk about are my sisters. If you really would like to see how robotics has influenced my whole family, then read below.

My oldest sister is going to be a senior in college, she’s studying industrial engineering, she started out studying computer science and engineering. The main reason she is intrested in engineering is because she was on team 180 for two years. she goes to cornell, an IV league university.

My other older sister just started college, she’s going to be a sophomore. She hasn’t yet picked her major, but it’s definately going to be something to do with engineering. Many of you may know her, she goes to university of florida and was on S.P.A.M. for 3 years.

I am going to be a junior in high school. I’ve already been in robotics for 2 years, and i anxiously await my 3rd and 4th year. before i joined team 180, i was considering studying something in the field of psychology, but now that i’ve spent two years in the pit (one basically watching, and one actually doing) i’m interested in doing something having to do with engineering.

My little sister, going to be a frosh in high school, already is saying how she wants to study engineering. I keep trying to convince her that she should wait another year before joining robotics (just because i love it so much and she’ll be hanging all over me the whole time) but she refuses. and now, i can’t wait to help her out in the pits and share everything with her that i know.

My whole family was affected by robotics. It means a lot to me. So far, we’ve all been on pit crew, but my dad is trying to convince me to join software because he keeps saying computers are our future. I’m still deciding about that tho :rolleyes:

Thank you FIRST, you’ve meant a lot to all of us!!

FIRST, while a great program, has made me somewhat of a cynic.

I’ve learned a couple things through the years:

A) Democracy is a fatally flawed an useless for of authority. in trying to give everyone a say, a team will descend into chaos and malice.

B) Nothing will ever get done unless somebody actually goes and do it. And unless they are actually in the process of doing whatever it is, chances are that it is not going to get done.

C) politics, both within a team and between teams, can be extremely touchy and potentially volatile. Everyone is so intoxicated by this notion of “gracious professionalism” that they take it to the extend where it contradicts the very foundation of FIRST. While FIRST does help further education and inspiration and all that good stuff, it is now and always be at its heart, a competition. Teams build a robot so that they can win. It is the definition of a competition. Although Gracious Professionalism is a very good thing if people understand it in the light through which it was originally intended, the highly charged political/social atmosphere of the first community ocassionally twists it into a construct that in the end detracts from the experience.

D) Winning does matter. If someone tries to say that it does not, than that person has obviously never dedicated 6 weeks of their lives to the building of a robot. no one comes to a competition so they can lose, no matter how much fun they had along the way. Besides, if it doesn’t matter, than why do we keep score?

E) A team’s competitiveness is due 50% to robot ability and 50% to driver ability. this is another area where anything other than a completely centralized system of organization will be grossly ineficient. Also the most efficient way for a drive team to communicate is to not require communication. A driver who requires someone else to make the strategy decisions for them will be inefficient, for no matter how well thought out the strategy it will be corrupted in trying to communicate through the frenzied environment of a match. All strategic authority must be centered in the driver, and his mandates must be followed without hesitation. There is no room inside a drive team for making sure that no one’s feelings get hurt.

Though it may sound like I am just complaining for the sake of complaining, the fact that I was able to condense most if not all of my complaints about the program into a single post does give a compliment of sorts to FIRST. There is even the chance that some of my complaints are unique to my team, although for most of them I highly doubt it. Though I had fun throughout my four years in the program, if given the chance there were a great many things I would have changed in both the way our team was organized and the way we thought of the program as a whole.

As a first year member in the FIRST community, i have learned numerous things.
I learned that in robotix that there is much more to building a robot and just competing. It’s also about having fun, showing good team work, and putting up a good fight during the competitions. Although certain problems do occur during and a little after the build season, all the teams eventually begin to cope up with the problems and figure out different ways to solve them. FIRST has taught me a lot about gracious professionalism and has showed me that its not all about winning.


“proud member or team 25 Raider Robotix NBTHS/BMS”
Engineering Inspiration Award - Annapolis Regional
Control and Leadership Award- Trenton Regional

Wow this is cool! Thanks for all the replies…I hope to get more soon!
Now for mine I guess…
At first, I didn’t like FIRST. I guess it was because I wasn’t having much fun during the building season. Not because of the workload, but because of personal stuff within my team. But then once it got to competition time, I realized it’s so much more. It’s fun, it’s educational, it’s…just plain amazing.
On my team, we have all kinds of people from so many different backgrounds, we speak 11 different languages among my team, we are gonna have at least five or so girls on our team next year (aside from myself). It’s just plain amazing how different people from different backgrounds and countries come together to work together and spend time with one another, to work on one robot, in one competition, in one program. Everytime I think about it, it shocks me more and more. FIRST has taught me more than I could ever get from one program. My team is so great and wonderful I wouldn’t trade them for another. I just plain love it, and hope to learn so much more in the future.

hey dori

im glad that u brought that up. I too didnt enjoy FIRST during the build season because I, being a rookie member, didnt know what was really going on. Although i did try my best to involve my self into many of the teams activities and crews, I still needed help understanding many of the things that were going on. Even during my 1st and half of my 2nd regional, i was not really Into the whole FIRST thing due to some internal problems within the members if the team and etc. But then later i forgot about all the problems and did my best to concentrate on what was going on out in the field and how FIRST would benefit me. Now i cant even wait for the next offseason competition to arrive. With this much said, I really did learn a lot this year, made lots of great friends and hope to learn more over my next few year in robotix.


“proud member of team 25 Raider Robotix NBTHS/BMS”
Engineering Inspiration Award- Annapolis Regional
Control and Leadership Award- Trenton Regional

You’re too sweet, Vishal. Thanks so much for that, I enjoyed reading your point of view. Seems like we were in the exact same situation, only at different times. I’m sure I’ll see you at Duel on the Delaware! :slight_smile:
–d0ri :smiley:

Hey… Will anyone mind if I quote them somehow in our sponsorship presentations? If you do, just PM me and all will be good. Thanks ahead of time.

no problem on my part, Lisa! :slight_smile: