For more than three decades, FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) has inspired and promoted young students—from kindergarten through high school—to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields with exciting, mentor-based research and robotics programs that help them become science and technology leaders, as well as well-rounded contributors to society and future leaders in the professional space.
The FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) is an amalgamation of sports, competition, science, and futuristic technology—with robotics as the centerpiece.
Over a six-week period leading up to the FIRST Championship, young students collaborate with professional mentors to form teams that design, build, and program industrial-sized robots to compete in a difficult field game against other gifted students and teams. Students build and showcase self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills by participating in unique challenges and embracing FIRST’s core mission of Gracious Professionalism. With a focus on intelligent design, teamwork, social skills, planning, and inspiration, the game, played by two alliances of three teams each, requires each squad to complete specific actions utilizing their robot, such as shooting inflatable balls into a central hub, placing inner tubes into a rack, and more, in order to score points. But the challenge isn’t just simply on the playing field. Students band together and are required to raise funds, construct a brand and market it, develop teamwork skills, and implement a design strategy utilizing a 120-pound robot.
Down in the Trenches
Canon Solutions America employees in Boca Raton, Florida, have been instrumental in volunteering with FIRST for the past 12 years, serving as coaches and professional mentors on their own time. This personal commitment supports the value of giving students opportunities outside of school promoting STEM careers.
A Common Connection
It’s not surprising that the philosophies of FIRST and the Canon culture align so perfectly. Built on the core concept of Gracious Professionalism, FIRST encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. This is in concert with Canon’s corporate philosophy of Kyosei, which means "all people, regardless of race, religion or culture, harmoniously living and working together into the future."
In South Florida, Team #3932, Dirty Mechanics, and Team #179, Children of the Swamp, fully embrace these values. Both teams have received unwavering corporate support from Canon Solutions America, which has helped to fund travel, supplies, and more.
Perhaps more importantly is the valuable mentorship the students receive. Canon Solutions America mentors dedicate up to seven days a week during the season to mold young minds in a collaborative and supportive environment, reinforcing concepts of engineering, computer science, physics, chemistry, and more. But it doesn’t end there. Volunteering efforts typically run throughout the year, with mentors leading the way in community outreach initiatives, recruitment, and more. Beyond just the applied knowledge, students also receive professional direction, invaluable career guidance, and leadership development.
FIRST was founded in 1989 to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. This not-for-profit public charity designs accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in STEM, while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills. FIRST participation is proven to encourage students to pursue education and careers in STEM-related fields, inspire them to become leaders and innovators, and enhance their 21st century work-life skills. Learn more at https://www.firstinspires.org