Woodie Flowers
“Making as a Form of Critical Thinking”

Dr. Woodie Flowers is the Pappalardo Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Distinguished Partner at Olin College. He received a B.S. from Louisiana Tech University and S.M., M.E. and Ph.D. degrees from MIT. Throughout his career, Dr. Flowers emphasized and demonstrated the critical relationships between creating, learning and understanding. As a lead advocate for the value of hands-on engineering design, Dr. Flowers established a practical foundation and academic underpinning for higher education makerspaces.

Dr. Flowers is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Society of Mechanical Engineering, and a Distinguished Partner and member of The President’s Council at Olin College of Engineering. He helped create MIT’s renowned course “Introduction to Design.” He received national recognition in his role as host for the PBS television series Scientific American Frontiers and received a New England EMMY Award for a PBS program on design. He received The Joel and Ruth Spria Outstanding Design Educator Award from ASME, a Public Service Medal from NASA, and a Doctor Honoris Causa from Andreas Bello University in Chile. He was named a MacVicar Faculty Fellow at MIT for extraordinary contributions to undergraduate education. He serves as Distinguished Advisor for FIRST and is Co-Chair of the FIRST Executive Advisory Board and was also the Inaugural Recipient of the FIRST Woodie Flowers Award. Dr. Flowers is a director/advisor to numerous companies. He and his wife Margaret live in Massachusetts.

Roya Mahboob
“Making the Future – Opportunities in Afghanistan and Beyond”

Roya Mahboob is a serial entrepreneur and advocate for experiential technology-based learning. She is a tech entrepreneur and founder of Citadel Software, a software development company based in Herat, Afghanistan; the Digital Citizen Fund, a nonprofit that aims to increase technological literacy, educational opportunities, and career possibilities for girls in Afghanistan; and the Dreamer’s Institute, a new school for Afghan women focusing on robotics, artificial intelligence, and block chain technologies. Her work bridges the gap between education and professional careers by creating practical technology-based skills for women and youth in developing countries. Roya creates transformative programs for youth by providing them with the chance to make, create, and build, with these experiences forever changing the participants’ lives. Roya’s programs provide women and children in developing countries with experiential learning and digital resources that connect them to a world beyond their borders. Her focus creates digital citizens that are capable and confident in their voices, and empowered to establish and sustain economic livelihoods.

Roya is a 2019 Presidential Leadership Scholar where she joins a network of world leaders to collaborate on projects and learn about leadership through the presidential experiences of George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, and Lyndon B. Johnson. One of her projects was recently profiled by the New York Times as an example of the possibilities that await Afghan women who know how to design and create technical systems. She was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World for 2013 for her innovative initiatives to expand computer education. Roya has created 13 IT centers for girls in high schools across Afghanistan and plans to expand her programs to 40 schools, ultimately reaching more than 160,000 female students. She has also taken her model beyond Afghanistan to schools in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Nepal. After facing death threats from the Taliban and others for her work, Roya left the country in 2013 and spent two years working remotely before returning to Afghanistan in 2016.

Higher Education Makerspace Initiative
“Making: Examples, Structures and Communities”

The Higher Education Makerspaces Initiatives (HEMI) is a collaborative of leading universities focused on solving the challenges of academic makerspaces and making their combined learnings available to others. Case Western Reserve University, Georgia Tech, MIT, Olin College, Stanford University, University of California-Berkeley, and Yale University are HEMI members. HEMI is the organizing body for the International Symposium on Academic Makerspaces and the soon-to-be published International Journal for Academic Makerspaces and Making.