An effective mentor demonstrates the value of success he or she has encountered during his/her career path and uses these skills and successes to share knowledge and values with team members.
Reality sets in when we realize there is no perfect progression for students maturing through our program. Students will make false starts, lose motivation, some will always want to be told what to do, others will be distracted by a driver’s license, start serious dating, land an after-school job, or we’ll lose experienced students to Senioritis or burnout. As mentors, we help and
Mentoring is NOT:
Something to put on your resume
A burdensome task
My way is the only right way
encourage them through these rough spots. We encourage by understanding the following expectations:
Dependability - You won’t be able to make every meeting, just as the students will not be able to do so. If you find yourself mentoring a particular group of students or guiding a certain task, try to arrange some sort of regular schedule when the majority of you can meet and work together.
Time - As a mentor, you already have a career, family, and other demands on your time. The time you donate to our team is valuable to us and the team meets in the evenings, so you can be there. The most intense period where you are needed is during the 6-weeks from January to February.
Effort - Your experience tells you how to solve problems and that will lead to research outside normal meetings necessary to find solutions or parts.
Similarly, students will not always be able to attend robotics regularly. They have overriding commitments like regular school classes, SAT, AP, regular tests and exams, homework, school events, extracurricular activities such as music, sports, religion, family obligations.
Many will be resistant to doing anything for fear of doing something wrong. Others will jump right in even if they make mistakes right and left. Hitting a roadblock, even a minor one, will cause some to just walk away and leave a project undone. Their stated goals will sometimes be at odds with what they are doing or how they are approaching things. We’ll need to bring the discrepancy to their attention and force them to make a conscious decision to either change their goals or change what they are doing.
Mentoring takes us beyond mere robotics. We provide a supportive environment and help students develop career goals, personal goals, and maturity. They will soak up not just technical skills but decision making, organization, teamwork, and social skills as well. Most of their learning will come from your example, how you approach a problem, how you test concepts, how you resolve problems or issues, and how you deal with others. At various times, the mentor may be a role model, teacher, advocate, sponsor, advisor, guide, developer of skills, a refiner of intellect, listener, coach, challenger, visionary, balancer, friend, sharer, facilitator, and resource provider. Along with these roles comes a responsibility to consider the psychological dimensions of the relationship, for example, accepting, confirming, counseling, and protecting.
Students time on the team is limited, so we need to see that our designs, innovations, even mundane everyday tasks such as proper soldering techniques are recorded for posterity as a technical paper by the students and/or mentors complete with wiring schematics, design limitations, materials down to the part number and sources. Everything that a freshmen or rookie team working alone would need to do the job without much fore-knowledge. Teach the students how to establish records.