BadgerBOTS’ National Program, FIRST ® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, was founded by inventor Dean Kamen in 1989 to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology.
Based in Manchester, NH, the 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit public charity designs accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills. With support from three out of every five Fortune 500 companies and nearly $15 million in college scholarships, the local and national competitions BadgerBOTS Robotics participate in include:
- Junior FIRST LEGO League (Jr. FLL)
- FIRST LEGO League (FLL)
- FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC)
- FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC )
The keystone of the program is the organization’s values, Gracious ProfessionalismTM and CoopertitionTM.
Dr. Woodie Flowers, FIRST National Advisor and Pappalardo Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, coined the term “Gracious Professionalism.”
Gracious Professionalism is part of the ethos of FIRST. It”s a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community.
With Gracious Professionalism, fierce competition and mutual gain are not separate notions. Gracious professionals learn and compete like crazy, but treat one another with respect and kindness in the process. They avoid treating anyone like losers. No chest thumping tough talk, but no sticky-sweet platitudes either. Knowledge, competition, and empathy are comfortably blended.
In the long run, Gracious Professionalism is part of pursuing a meaningful life. One can add to society and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing one has acted with integrity and sensitivity.
Coopertition produces innovation. At FIRST, Coopertition is displaying unqualified kindness and respect in the face of fierce competition. Coopertition is founded on the concept and a philosophy that teams can and should help and cooperate with each other even as they compete.
Coopertition involves learning from teammates. It is teaching teammates. It is learning from mentors. And it is managing and being managed. Coopertition means competing always, but assisting and enabling others when you can.