This is part of a series of articles linking the work of MIT’s emeritus faculty members with the current state of research in their given fields.When Woodie Flowers SM ’68, MEng ’71, PhD ’73 was an MIT student in mechanical engineering, most of his classes involved paper-and-pencil design exercises with predetermined “right” solutions; actual class-related construction work tended to be limited to small test devices, built by the book. But having grown up taking things apart and putting them back together, he had a strong affinity for making things, and for making them work.As he transitioned from student to teacher at MIT, that inclination guided Flowers to take an innovative approach to education: He developed a hands-on, project-centered mechanical engineering class, which has since been widely imitated both at MIT and elsewhere. He also collaborated in the creation of a popular and influential robotics competition for elementary and high school...
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