Science is now a spectator sport.

Six robots zig, zag, and zoom in a rectangular gridiron amidst blaring music and the cheers of a full stadium. To the casual bystander, it is sheer pandemonium. To the scientific and technology community, it is a showcase of their future stars. This is FIRST®.

Talent meets teamwork.

Traditionally, students who excel in academics do so as individuals. The accolades they earn are owned, not shared. And their talents are rarely put on display in front of a crowd. Today, this is changing. At FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), students develop advanced skills in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) while competing as a team with fans cheering them on.

In 1989, inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen founded FIRST® to inspire young people to participate in the fields of science and technology. Exciting mentor-based programs helped them build STEM skills and develop valuable life capabilities, including self-confidence, communication, and leadership—creating the next generation of inventors.

“[The mission of FIRST® is] to transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders.”

— Dean Kamen, Founder, FIRST®

The Field of Play

The FIRST® Robotics Competition combines the excitement of a sporting event with the rigors of science and technology. Under strict rules, limited resources, and time limits, teams of at least 25 students are challenged to raise funds, design a team name, hone teamwork skills, and build and program robots to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. It’s as close to real-world engineering as a student can get, with professional mentors volunteering their time and talents to guide each team.

At the center of a stadium and in front of thousands, the products of hundreds of hours of teamwork battle it out. The 2014 game, AERIAL ASSISTSM, was played by two Alliances (each composed of three teams) that competed to score as many goals as possible during a two-and-a-half-minute match. Additional points were earned when robots threw or caught balls over a truss suspended about five feet above the floor. To offer another incentive for teamwork, large bonuses were given when a ball was in possession by more than one robot while moving down the field. Watch highlights of the teams' robots in action in this video from the 2014 Championship event.

Students on 2,720 teams.

Maximum weight of robots.

Total robots built.

Building character.

The importance of teamwork at FIRST® can be summarized in two terms: Coopertition® and Gracious Professionalism®. Coopertition promotes the idea of both cooperation and competition as a means of accelerating progress toward a common goal. Gracious Professionalism encourages learning from each other, as well as teaching each other. Together, the concepts not only help students excel in the competition but also prepare for their future career.

“Qualcomm is proud to recognize these amazing students—they are our future—and they will help create the next big mobile inventions and opportunities.”

— Matt Grob, Executive Vice President, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and Chief Technology Officer

FIRST® Robotics Students

Aug 25, 2014


Tomorrow’s challenges will be solved by today’s challengers.

At Qualcomm, we believe in the power technology has on our world. That is why we provide financial support to FIRST® and other youth initiatives that support STEM. By supporting and even hiring young inventors, we continue to demonstrate a commitment to a culture of invention.

Explore how Qualcomm invention transforms the world in which we live.