FIRST was founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen in order to foster appreciation and interest in science and technology among young people. It aims to provide innovative programs that both build life skills and motivate students to pursue futures in the sciences. Presently, the organization sponsors the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) and the FIRST Tech Challenge for high school students, the FIRST LEGO League for middle school students, and the Junior FIRST LEGO League for 6- to 9-year-olds. Team 1466 participates in the FIRST Robotics Competition. Along with competitions, FIRST also offers over $14 million of scholarship money to high school students on FIRST teams.
Each year, on the first weekend of January, tens of thousands of high schoolers and their mentors gather to watch the FRC Kickoff livestream. During this presentation, Dean Kamen (along with special guests) announces the challenge for that year. Some of the tasks are similar to sports (quasi-soccer and basketball), while others seem more arbitrary (stacking hollow triangles, making the FIRST logo out of inner tubes). From the kickoff date, teams have six weeks in which to design, program, and build a robot for a specific task.