Woodie Flowers Award Nominations

LASA Robotics mentors inspire Purple Haze students to embody Gracious Professionalism, as coined by Woodie Flowers, after whom the Woodie Flowers Finalist Award (WFFA) is named. Purple Haze is proud to nominate our outstanding mentors each year for this honor.

2024: Riad Nassar

Our mentor Riad Nassar drives our team forward, all the while grounding us in our rich past. Known for his kind-hearted nature, Riad has one key reason for his commitment to our team: ensuring that every student has the same memorable experience that he had as a member of Purple Haze. 

Leadership and Mentorship
Riad's leadership skills extend beyond just guidance; they are rooted in a genuine desire to see team members come into their own as leaders and problem solvers. He guides students in both technical work and outreach efforts, moving between drilling our award team on their presentations and reminding our build team to clamp their wood. Over his 13 years of involvement on the team, Riad has worked tirelessly to ensure that our team reaches every corner of our school, LASA, fostering a welcoming community for all. He strives to connect Purple Haze with the greater Austin community, pioneering STEM workshops at our local libraries and committing himself fully to supporting students in the development of our annual SMART Camps.

Impact on Team Culture
Riad makes sure to promote a dynamic and inclusive team environment. His patient, supportive, and open-minded nature instills confidence and resilience in every student. He pushed for the development of our permanent scholarship fund for underprivileged students and ensured that the funds would remain long into the future. Riad's commitment to building a close-knit community became the backbone of our team culture, fostering relationships that extended well beyond the robotics workspace. As an example, Riad made it his goal this season to talk to each individual on our team of over 70 students, to get to know them and ensure that they felt comfortable on the team.

Long-Term Dedication
Riad Nassar's commitment to the robotics program is unmatched; he has brought a full heart and open mind through his 9 years of mentorship and 4 years as a LASA Purple Haze member. For the years we’ve known him, Riad has shown up every day after school to help our team, then heads home to complete administrative paperwork. Riad exemplifies an unwavering commitment to creating a positive learning environment in the Purple Haze robotics community.

With Riad’s recent and unexpected passing, the workshop may seem quieter and the challenges more daunting. Yet, his spirit lives on in every project, every challenge overcome, and every student who finds solace and inspiration within the LASA Robotics community. Riad's legacy lives on not just in the robots we build but in the resilient, supportive community he helped cultivate. As we continue through this robotics season, we will carry his message of kindness and compassion with us, ensuring that the impact of Riad Nassar continues to shape the future of LASA Robotics. 

Riad Nassar
Riad Nassar with a water bottle
Group photo at a Fungineering Workshop, Riad Nassar on the left
Share pictures and memories on our Riad Nassar Memorial Page