The FIRST Tech Challenge high school robotics program was founded by Dean Kamen, creator of the Segway and other ground-breaking inventions. His foundation, FIRST ( For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) supports robotics competitions around the world, from elementary school programs to college level robotics.
The guiding principle of all the FIRST competitions is “Gracious Professionalism”. It is a call for competitors to rise above their own individual and team focus. From the FIRST website:
“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.”
Gracious Professionalism is taken to heart by Williston Wildcat Robotics. The team recently decided to give up their spot in the February 8th Qualifying Tournament at The Ursuline Academy to allow another team to try to qualify for the States Championship. Since the Wildcats have already qualified for States, they felt (unanimously) that the spirit of Gracious Professionalism compelled them to make this decision and wish the very best for all the teams in the two remaining Qualifiers.