The SigmaC@T organization was created in 1995 at Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida to compete in the annual FIRST Robotics Competition. As the first FRC team in Florida, SigmaC@T quickly became a nationally-recognized powerhouse. With extremely talented students, exceptional mentorship, and a solid corporate sponsorship, the team has always been an engine for success. twenty three years after emergence, the saga continues.
In 2001, several talented minds at J.P. Taravella High School joined the SigmaC@T family, forming a partnership that lasted over eight years. From this, some of the team's all-time greats have emerged from this school and have gone on to become apart of many great universities and companies. The partnership was initially intended to jump start a FRC program at a semi-local, non-magnet school that already had an established expansive extracurricular and athletics programs. The idea didn't gain substantial traction inside the school to prove itself viable in forming their own team. In 2008, the district budget was drastically reduced and the partnership could no longer thrive in such a state.
Currently in their nineteenth season, the team has competed in over forty-five FRC regular season and championship events, acquiring twenty-two awards throughout the process, including four-time Regional wins and Curie Division Winner at the World Championship event in 2005.
More than two hundred student members have progressed through the ranks of the team. Over ninety-five percent have gone on to colleges and universities. Some alumni have even returned as mentors.
In addition to building robots, during the off-season, the team continually focuses on fundraising efforts, community service projects, district events, and FIRST Lego League mentorships with local middle schools to raise awareness of such a great program, and provide community outreach and support.
FIRST's mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, 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.
FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a multinational, non-profit organization that aspires to transform our culture, making science, math, engineering, and technology as cool for kids as sports are today. FIRST® was founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway Personal Transporter, and on partnerships with businesses, educational institutions and government. Many Fortune 500 companies provide funding, in-kind donations and volunteers to support the program.
FIRST® offers robotics programs for students of all ages. The FIRST® Robotics Competition encourages kids ages 14-18, sponsored and assisted by local companies and volunteers, to design, assemble, and test a robot capable of performing a specified task in competition with other teams. FIRST® also offers programs for younger ages, such as the FIRST® Tech Challenge, the FIRST® LEGO® League, and the Junior FIRST® LEGO® League.
The key to FIRST‘s® success is the work of thousands of volunteer mentors, professional engineers, teachers, and other adults working with students across the country. In addition to the volunteers and team mentors, FIRST competitions and other events are organized and staffed by many event and committee volunteers. Through these volunteers, FIRST programs have engaged thousands of young people from around the world since the time the organization was founded.
Dr. Woodie Flowers, FIRST® National Adviser and Pappalardo Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, coined the term "Gracious Professionalism®."
Gracious Professionalism is part of the FIRST® culture. 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 with enthusiasm, but treat one another with respect and kindness in the process. They avoid treating anyone like losers. No chest thumping tough talk, and no sticky-sweet platitudes either. Knowledge, competition, and empathy are comfortably blended.
Overall, Gracious Professionalism is part of pursuing a meaningful life. One can add to society and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing one has acted with integrity and sensitivity.
Coopertition or co-opetition is a neologism coined to describe cooperative competition. At FIRST, Cooperation is displaying unqualified kindness and respect in the face of fierce competition. Cooperation 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. Cooperation means competing always, but assisting and enabling others when you can.