Almost exactly 17 years ago... at the end of my rookie season in FRC I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Woodie Flowers. We were introduced during a very busy moment at the end of what must have been a very busy day for him. In (what I'd later learn is) characteristic fashion, Woodie didn't just say "Hi" but took time to chat with me about my experiences and future goals. While I didn't appreciate it then, It is amazing how much time he spent with me: some random rookie robot kid from upstate NY.
Over the course of the following season I'd have several additional opportunities to chat with him. Each time we chatted he seemed to remember me and we were able to have an on-going conversation about... well... whatever seemed important to me at the time. (Note: probably NOT important).
In the years since, I'm fortunate that Woodie has continued to be a positive force in my life. I cherish his mentorship. Through our conversations he has always provided me with remarkable insight and has helped shape many of my core beliefs.
As the father of educational and competition robotics his impact is almost unknowable in its magnitude. Woodie is simply the thought-leader and moral compass for entire generations of students.
However... what amazes me more than his cultural influence is the impact he's had on the many individuals who have come into his life. Over the years I've seen him chat with numerous students from around the world (including dozens of Robowranglers). Watching him in these situations is humbling, because I've never met anyone who is so selflessly generous with their time.
As a small tribute to such a tremendous legacy, as thanks for the large impact he's had (and the many many many small impacts) I'm absolutely thrilled to see Woodie's induction into the STEM Hall of Fame. There is literally no one more deserving.
I can never thank Woodie enough for the time he spent with me when I was a kid, or the time he spends with my Robowrangler kids, or for the time he spends with the countless other students he meets... but I'm not going to stop trying.