In 1989, Dean Kamen founded For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST). The founders coined ideas such as coopertition and gracious professionalism, which are heavily promoted in all FIRST events. Coopertition is the idea that teams should work together even in situations of competition. Gracious professionalism promotes high-quality work while also encouraging people to respect each other and their work. FIRST offers nearly $20 million in scholarships, supporting its goal to motivate students to explore the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
FIRST has five major programs: FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), the highest level of
competition, FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC), a mid-level competition
utilizing Tetrix, FIRST LEGO League (FLL), for kids ages 9-14 using LEGO Mindstorm sets,
Junior FIRST LEGO League, for elementary school kids ages 5-8 using LEGOs to build LEGO models, and FIRST Championship, an annual event with all the final rounds of the separate competitions taking place at once.
As a participant in FRC, the Combustible Lemons aim to emulate FIRST's values and encourage STEM in the community.