FIRST was founded in 1989 by inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen, with inspiration and assistance from physicist and MIT professor emeritus Woodie Flowers. Kamen was disappointed with the number of kids—particularly women and minorities—considering science and technology careers and decided to do something about it. As an inventor, he looked for activities that captured the enthusiasm of students, and he chose to combine the excitement of sports competitions with science and technology. He formed a nonjudgmental space, where everyone was welcome regardless of their background or prior experience. The inaugural event occurred in a high school gym in 1992, and since then FIRST has rapidly grown to an international organization with a community that spans every grade level.
FIRST includes 4 different programs: FIRST LEGO League Jr, FIRST LEGO League, FIRST Tech Challenge, and FIRST Robotics Competition. TKO is a part of FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC). FIRST Robotics Competition is a program where high school-aged teams build and program a robot under strict rules and limited resources. Teams must also raise funds and design a team "brand," while also learning STEM and life skills. FIRST provides TKO as well as thousands of others opportunities to grow through the use of STEM.