Remembering Dr. Woodie Flowers: FIRST Announces Memorial Grant and Invites Robotics Community to Celebrate Legacy of Late Distinguished Advisor to FIRST and Pappalardo Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

October 11, 2020, Marks the One-Year Anniversary of Flowers’ Passing at the Age of 75

MANCHESTER, N.H., October 8, 2020FIRST®, a robotics community that prepares young people for the future, today announced the Woodie Flowers Memorial Grant, which honors the legacy of the late Chair of the FIRST Executive Advisory Board and Distinguished Advisor to FIRST, Dr. Woodie Flowers. Dr. Flowers, “Woodie” as he was known to all in the FIRST community, passed away unexpectedly on October 11, 2019, at the age of 75 due to medical complications. Flowers, an innovative and beloved Pappalardo Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, helped FIRST Founder Dean Kamen develop the FIRST® Robotics Competition and coined the FIRST ethos of Gracious Professionalism®. In addition to announcing the Woodie Flowers Memorial Grant, FIRST invited its global robotics community of nearly one million participants, volunteers, sponsors, donors and supporters to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Flowers on social media as part of #WalkLikeWoodie day, happening on October 12, 2020. The social media campaign invites FIRST community members to post photos and memories of Flowers, and to share how they intend to follow in his footsteps.

“Woodie Flowers was an inspiration to all who knew him. Through the ethos of Gracious Professionalism, he urged us all to be creative, kind, and pursue a meaningful life,” said Larry Cohen, FIRST President. “The FIRST community has truly embraced Woodie’s words and actions, and his legacy of graciousness and innovation will live on for decades through the millions of students whose lives he impacted.”

Survived by his wife, Margaret Flowers, the couple had no biological children, but she said in an interview, “the MIT kids and the FIRST kids were his children.” Throughout his 30 years of involvement with FIRST, the couple, together, were tireless advocates for the organization.

Starting in 2020, a Woodie Flowers Memorial Grant will be awarded annually to one FIRST Tech Challenge or FIRST Robotics Competition Dean’s List Award winner. The Grant, funded by generous donors, will be for $10,000 per year, renewable up to four years, and is applicable for majors in a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) discipline and may be used by recipients attending an accredited university of their choice.

Follow and participate in the #WalkLikeWoodie social media celebration on October 12, 2020, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

For more information about the Woodie Flowers Memorial Grant, please visit


About FIRST®  
FIRST® is a robotics community that prepares young people for the future through a suite of inclusive, team-based robotics programs for ages 4-18 (PreK-12) that can be facilitated in school or in structured afterschool programs. An international not-for-profit organization founded by accomplished inventor Dean Kamen in 1989, FIRST has a proven impact on STEM learning, interest, and skill-building well beyond high school. Boosted by a global support system of mentors, coaches, volunteers, alumni, and sponsors that include over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies, teams operate under a signature set of FIRST Core Values to conduct research, fundraise, design, and build robots, then compete and celebrate at local, regional, and international events. High school students are eligible for more than $80 million in college scholarships. Learn more at