“Real Change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg  



(PSSSSSST – this is our third blog post in this series, please click here to start at the beginning of our story!) 


FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. As the local Program Delivery Partner for FIRST LEGO League Junior, FIRST Tech Challenge, and FIRST Robotics Competition programs, FIRST Indiana Robotics shares a similar mission and vision as our parent organization. 




The mission of FIRST Indiana Robotics is to inspire young people in Indiana to be science and technology leaders and innovators, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.




“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




One of my favorite TED Talks is by Simon Sinek, “How great leaders inspire action.” In the talk, he introduces the “Golden Circle” and talks about how inspired organizations start with WHY instead of WHAT.


This concept encouraged us to “start with why” as we were developing the purpose of FIRST Indiana Robotics. Let’s break it down step by step. 


Designed by FIRST Headquarters, the tag line Our Future: Built Better Together gives us the basis of our WHY and explains WHY we do what we do. We believe that the future will be better if we build it together, and we believe our youth hold the keys to improving our world. These two concepts partnered together provide us with the “WHY” of FIRST Indiana Robotics, “FIRST Indiana Robotics believes our future is built better together and improving the world starts with our youth.” It explains why we do what we do and why the organization exists – we exist to changes the lives of our students and by changing their lives, giving them the skills they need to succeed, they will build a better future. They will change the world. 


Narrowing down the most important aspects of HOW we do what we do was a challenge. There are many differentiators that make FIRST Indiana Robotics a unique organization when it comes to inspiring our youth. After an intense brainstorming session on the topic, the various ideas were condensed into three guiding principles: 


Mentorship + Hands-On Learning 

Problem-Solving + Community Engagement 

Core Values + Intense Competition 


These represent HOW we do what we do so let’s break it down into more detail. We’re building a better future by:

  • Mentoring our youth as they learn new skills through hands-on, tangible learning experiences
  • Engaging career professionals that show students the relationship between the skills learned in FIRST and the skills that can be applied to their future careers. 
  • Challenging students to identify, research, and solve real problems found in their communities while working with mentors and coaches to bring their solutions into existence
  • Connecting the fun of FIRST to giving back to the community through local outreach, education, and engagement
  • Empowering students by strengthening their business, STEM/STEAM, and communication skills while equipping them with the tools necessary to succeed in a technology-rich workforce
  • Providing students with an opportunity to participate in intense competitions that require students to work as a team and put the Core Values of FIRST into action
  • Expressing the importance of the FIRST philosophies of Gracious Professionalism and Coopertition through Core Values
    • FIRST Core Values: 
      • Discovery: We explore new skills and ideas.
      • Innovation: We use creativity and persistence to solve problems.
      • Impact:  We apply what we learn to improve our world.
      • Inclusion: We respect each other and embrace our differences.
      • Teamwork: We are stronger when we work together.
      • Fun: We enjoy and celebrate what we do!


It’s about more than robots, FIRST Indiana Robotics is a robotics community that prepares young people for life. 


Learn more about WHAT we do in the FIRST LEGO League Junior, FIRST Tech Challenge, and FIRST Robotics Competition programs in our upcoming blog posts!



Renee Becker-Blau