What is Mentoring?

A mentor is an adult who, along with parents and teachers, provides young people with support, counsel, friendship, reinforcement and a constructive example. Mentors are good listeners, people who care, and people who want to help young people bring out strengths that are already there.

Future City Competition mentors are engineers representing any technical discipline or profession who are both willing and qualified to provide the guidance to the students and support of the teachers through the life of the competition. The mentoring relationship can take many forms. In the best relationships, the mentor will help the students define and achieve the goals of the competition.

A Future City engineer-mentor should expect to spend 25-40 hours from September - January working with the student teams.

As a mentor, you will help your mentee:

  • Develop a plan that facilitates the successful completion of all deliverables related to the competition
  • Explore or identify potential resources necessary to complete the city design
  • Schedule activities, visits or presentations visits that relate to the different competition deliverables including city design, conducting research, constructing scale models, improving writing skills and making effective presentations
  • Guiding the continuing education process (overall guidance for possible coursework in high school and college) and discussing possible engineering careers or technical career options
  • Learn more about the community and how to help others
  • Strengthen communication skills and ability to relate well to all kinds of people
  • Make healthy choices about day-to-day life

Matching Mentors, Schools and Students

The people you would want as mentors are the people who are doing everything else as well. They are involved in their profession, active in community affairs, they participate in multi-disciplined teams and are willing be dedicate the time and energy that will positively impact the student’s success.

While there are a multitude of potential reasons a technical professional is willing to become a mentor, four primary reasons are most common:

  1. Wants to support their 6th-8th grade child’s education
  2. Wants to make an impact on the education of middle school students in their immediate neighborhood
  3. Wants to make an impact on the education of middle school students in “underprivileged” areas or inner city schools
  4. Has established a relationship with a local school, school teacher or student group and feels they could use his/her technical expertise or experience

Any of these reasons are excellent rationale as a commitment to mentoring. When recruiting a mentor, one discussion point that should be made clearly with the prospective mentor is one of time commitment and time away from the job. Since the mentoring is normally school-based, the mentor must factor time away from the job (travel to and from, team mentoring) into the decision. In addition, the time when the students or teacher needs the mentor on campus will be driven by when the team has the opportunity to meet. In some cases, teams meet before school, during lunch periods, during a class period or after school.  Only after considering all of these factors can the mentor determine which school is best for the mentoring assignment. There may be schools close to the job where time away is reduced.

There are several options that mentors can consider, among them are:

  • Electronic or E-mail mentoring. That approach integrates face-to-face team visits with guidance messages using the Internet.  Communications can also be through teleconference calls or video links.
  • Team-based mentoring. This utilizes co-workers to share mentoring responsibilities. While this abandons the traditional mentor-mentee relationship, co-workers can provide assistance in different technical areas, demonstrate teamwork, communication skills, the strength of using multi-disciplinary teams and the importance of project planning.


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