Dr. Woodie Flowers, FIRST Distinguished Advisor and Pappalardo Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, coined the term "Gracious Professionalism®."
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.
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.
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded 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.
FIRST is More Than Robots. FIRST participation is proven to encourage students to pursue education and careers in STEM-related fields, inspire them to become leaders and innovators, and enhance their 21 st century work-life skills.
The mission of FIRST is to inspire young people 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