Woodie Flowers

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Woodie C. Flowers is an emeritus professor of mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His specialty areas are engineering design and product development, he holds the Pappalardo Professorship and is a MacVicar Faculty Fellow.

He received his B.S. from Louisiana Polytechnic University in 1966, and later an M.S. (1968), M.E. (1970), and a Ph.D. (1972), all from MIT. He was made an Assistant Professor at MIT in 1972 and a professor in 1988.

In 1974, he took over MIT's “Introduction to Design” class (coursebook code: 2.70), in which he gave sophomores a set of random parts such as small motors, wire and tongue depressors. Students were told to build a device that would perform some specific function. Professor Flowers turned the competition into something like a sporting event, with dynamic challenges for the robots. The competition was held in large MIT classrooms and later, gymnasiums. (Many MIT alumni joke that it's the school's version of Homecoming.) The competition was broadcast on PBS’ "Discover The World of Science" throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s.

He hosted Scientific American Frontiers on PBS from 1990 to the spring of 1993. He was replaced in that role by Alan Alda. Flowers also has the title "Distinguished Partner" at Olin College. He has been the co-founder of and national advisor to the FIRST robotics competition since its inception in 1989. ...
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