The Intuitive Foundation is a proud sponsor of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) high school robotics teams.
Since 2006, Intuitive Surgical has partnered with FIRST, awarding grants to high school robotic teams both in the Bay Area and other parts of the U.S. In 2019, FIRST sponsorship was transferred to the Intuitive Foundation.
Over the years, Intuitive has inspired hundreds of students to engage in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) activities. In addition, Intuitive Surgical employees have volunteered as mentors and coaches for teams that compete in FIRST Robotics Competition, which combines the excitement of sports with the rigors of science and technology. In 2019, the Intuitive Foundation expanded its reach to sponsoring teams around the world.
Beyond sponsorship and mentoring, Intuitive Surgical employees hosts a popular summer event for local teams called RoboNanza in Sunnyvale, California, and hosts FIRST teams to a Fall Open House where students enjoy system demos and learn about STEM careers.
Particularly during these uncertain and challenging times, the Intuitive Foundation is committed to supporting FIRST’s mission to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators.
Eligibility Criteria and Application guidelines
To qualify for funding for the current season, any high school team registered with FIRST Robotics Competition may submit an application. We welcome teams to apply for grants between August and September 30th each year.
*For the 2022/2023 season the application deadline has been extended until October 14th, 2022.
For teams located outside of the U.S., the funding request should come from a registered charity. All team grants will be disbursed through FIRST Finance.
The Foundation will review and evaluate submissions based on the following criteria:
- The team must be registered with FIRST for the current year’s competition season.
- The team must have competed in at least one official FIRST robotic competition.
- The team exposes students to STEM programs and inspires them to pursue STEM who otherwise might not have had the opportunity.
- The team multiplies the impact of our investment by promoting interest in STEM outside of their organization.
- The team fosters growth and development of future scientists and engineers through well-developed and successful teams.
As part of the application, you may include a request for a volunteer mentor, if available.
Please email FIRST@intuitive-foundation.org with questions regarding the FIRST Robotics grant process.
**As part of our sustainability program, we request that teams send digital items via email (photos, letters, etc.) and refrain from sending physical items to reduce our carbon footprint.**
ROBONANZA and OPEN HOUSE
The Intuitive Foundation awarded grants to 100 robotic teams in the 2020-21 school year. This year’s roster included two teams from Mexico and a team from Canada. Prior to the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders, local teams were invited to showcase their student-built robots at Intuitive Surgical’s Sunnyvale headquarters at an event called RoboNanza.
Pandemic restrictions also affected the Fall Open House hosted by Intuitive Surgical employees for sponsored FIRST robotic teams. That event included da Vinci minimally invasive surgical system test drives, design challenges, and multiple STEM workshops for the students.
The fall open house for sponsored FIRST teams is a crowd favorite that includes da Vinci test drives, a design challenge, and STEM workshops.