FIRST Robotics Competition Blog

A NEW Woodie Flowers Tradition is coming to an event near you, in 2022!!!

Feb 14, 2022 Written by Woodie Flowers Award Winners




In the early years of FIRST, Woodie, wearing his denim shirt, was a staple at every tournament. As FIRST grew, it became virtually impossible for him to be at every tournament because of the multiple tournaments each weekend! Now, as we get back to “in person” events and dynamic robotic challenges, we will need to be reminded of HOW to be back together, HOW to be Graciously Professional at events, and who else better to lead the way than Woodie?  This year, in a fun and exciting way, we’ll all celebrate Woodie’s legacy! Gracious Professionalism, what’s that?! Many people consider Dr. Woodie Flowers to be the father of competitive robotics. Woodie helped create MIT’s renowned course “Introduction to Design”, which inspired many current competitive robotics and education programs. In FIRST, Woodie was also famously known for coining the term “Gracious Professionalism” (GP). It is part of the ethos of FIRST. Gracious Professionalism is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. With Gracious Professionalism, fierce competition and mutual gain are not separate notions. Gracious professionals learn and compete like crazy, but treat one another with respect and kindness in the process. They avoid treating anyone like losers. No chest thumping tough talk, but no sticky-sweet platitudes either. Knowledge, competition, and empathy are comfortably blended. In the long run, Gracious Professionalism is part of pursuing a meaningful life.

This year a full-size color cutout of Woodie, wearing his famous signature denim shirt will be at each District Championship, Regional, and FIRST Championship! To carry out the tradition of Woodie’s shirt signing, a denim shirt will be near the cutout for YOU to sign. Once you sign the shirt, you are committing to carry on Gracious Professionalism in all that you do. Woodie loved to talk to you and share your excitement for FIRST, but more importantly he wanted you to get the most out of the FIRST experience by behaving as though your Grandmother was watching! We hope that by signing the shirt you will honor the legacy that Woodie established.

If your Woodie Flowers nominee wins the WFFA, they will also be awarded the signed shirt at that event! The signed shirt at the FIRST Championship will be presented to the WFA recipient for the event, and then it will become part of the existing collection of WFA shirts for awards ceremonies to come! So sign a shirt at the event and hey, when you sign the shirt post a photo of you with Woodie on Twitter: @WFAward or Facebook: @WoodieFlowersAward or Instagram: @WoodieFlowersAward and hashtag: #GPWoodie

Good luck with the rest of build season, treat everyone Graciously and enjoy the experience of a lifetime building your robot. See you all soon!

- The Woodie Flowers Award Committee

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