A fresh group of students with no previous FIRST experience have difficulties designing and building a competitive FRC robot in six weeks. They require mentoring to learn and to succeed. Conversely, a strong group of students with several years of experience might design and build a competitive robot with little mentoring. Thus the role of a mentor is dynamic. There are FIRST teams whose students spend little time designing and/or building the robot. And there are FIRST teams who prohibit an adult from picking up a tool. The mentoring philosophy on FIRST Team 1296 is a dynamic hybrid.

Our mentors teach, help and support individual students to any extent required. Students make the key design decisions but mentors steer students away from unnecessary technical risk or folly. Students produce the design documentation but mentors filter everything that goes out for manufacture. Students select OEM parts and materials but mentors filter the purchasing process. Students build the robot after learning basic skills from mentors.

Every year we have amazing and responsible students but some things are handled by mentors. FIRST Team 1296 mentors enforce safety practices at all times. Safety is NEVER compromised. Mentors (or teachers or members of the booster club) actually spend monies. RISD has specific rules about the handling of club monies and the Robotics Club follows these rules. Lastly, if a student decision or action compromises the relationship with a sponsor or another FIRST team, mentors step in to protect important year-over-year relationships.

FIRST Team 1296 has a single “Head Mentor”. This person is also the “Alternate Team Contact” on the TIMS web site. The head mentor coordinates activities of mentors with the “Primary Team Contact”, the teachers, the sponsors and the students. The head mentor is selected by active teacher-sponsors.

This film and document is required viewing/reading for new mentors:
FIRST Youth Protection Program

The documents below are suggested reading for new mentors:
Mentor Resources Library
FIRST Mentoring Guide

We need engineers (all types), software professionals, business persons, mechanics, machine operators, teachers, active parents - all kinds of people. If you are interested, drop me a line.