Since 2002, the Center has served as the evaluation partner with FIRST
(For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a national organization that promotes involvement in STEM through after‐school robotics competitions. FIRST programs involve teams of students and mentors from the corporate and university community who design and build robots to accomplish a pre‐defined set of tasks. Teams then compete in regional and national events. Over the past 11 years, the Center has conducted annual studies to evaluate the implementation and impacts of FIRST’s robotics programs while working with FIRST staff to develop the organization’s data collection and evaluation capacity. FIRST evaluations examine a wide variety of education, career and life skills outcomes, including attitudes towards science and technology, educational aspirations and progress, and the development of 21st Century life and workplace skills (planning, problem-solving, communications, teamwork, etc.). The Center is currently conducting a 5-year longitudinal impact study tracking approximately 1,000 FIRST participants and comparison students to assess the program’s longer term impacts on student involvement in STEM education and careers.