The Woodie Flowers Award honors those individuals who have mastered the art of communication in the fields of engineering and design. Very few people exemplify all of the qualities necessary to succeed at this ambitious goal, and Paul Kloberg, mentor of Team 25, FIRST Senior Mentor, and mentor to numerous others across the Tri-State Area, does so with impeccable ease.
Known throughout much of FIRST as jolly, exuberant, excited, caring, tireless, and so much more, he dedicates countless time to numerous FIRST teams. From having started FRC303 many years ago, he has gone on to start more teams than anyone can count—his influence is far-reaching.
Mr. Kloberg originally got excited about FIRST when he saw the passion, dedication, and spirit in Team 25’s eyes when they won the NJ Regional Event in 2000—and since then, his goal has been to bring that same passion, dedication, spirit, and knowledge to everyone. His goals are the same as those of FIRST, and he lives by and spreads the same ideologies— that “Leadership is based on inspiration, not domination; on cooperation, not intimidation,” as William Arthur Wood once said. Neither domineering nor lax, Mr. Kloberg uses the perfect combinations of leadership abilities to keep kids on task, while still having them learn and teach others.
> As the Senior Mentor for the New Jersey Region, he serves tirelessly to ensure that every team gets all the help it needs. Oftentimes, he spends his Saturdays visiting and checking in on four or five teams. Wayne Cokeley, coach of Team 25, boasts, “Paul Kloberg was doing the job of Senior Mentor of NJ before FIRST ever created the position”—alluding to Mr. Kloberg’s sincere and everlasting dedication.
> But more than his ability to inspire students, he also has a keen sense of how FIRST teams, school boards, and corporate sponsors function and is able to synthesize them into a cohesive whole for the benefit of all parties involved. One example lies in how he worked with Team 1923 from West Windsor-Plainsboro, NJ and their Board of Education to allow the team to compete using school funds. Originally stubborn, the school took a very laissez-faire attitude towards the team until Mr. Kloberg came along and convinced the school that the team was a worthwhile investment.
> Incredibly devoted, he makes it a job to be there and to be someone everyone can count on. Randy Schaeffer, Regional Director of NJ/NY FIRST stated that he has the “can-do attitude that is changing the direction of FIRST,” when Mr. Kloberg won Volunteer of the Year Award in 2003. He always goes above and beyond what is asked of him and extends his help graciously. Every year, he makes the arrangements for the NASA field for Brunswick Eruption, Team 25’s off-season event. This past year, he also made sure that the first Monty Madness ran successfully by transporting the FIRST playing field from the Pennsylvania Robotics Challenge down to Montgomery High School in time for the competition. Heavily involved with all aspects of FIRST, he helps run FVC, FLL and FRC Tournaments across the state and has mentored (and/or helped start) teams 25, 303, 1089, 1923, 1403, and so many other teams that only he can remember all of them.
> Each year at Brunswick Eruption, Team 25 awards a ‘Big Kahuna’ trophy to a mentor that has made a difference for the team; it represents our own version of the “Woodie Flowers Award”. Mr. Paul Kloberg was the very first recipient of the honor and has since only become more active and dedicated to the cause of FIRST. Mr. Kloberg’s infectious enthusiasm and unmatchable dedication make him a role model for all FIRST mentors.