Before I go much further in mentoring you mentors, let’s first have some introductions. In the attached image, the team with the red car is Bob Jones High School a.k.a. Patriot Racing of Madison Alabama. Ideally teams should be 8-12 people, but we chose to have a larger team anticipating some would quit after other school programs got started—that was not the case. To help manage all the activities the team was organized into 1) mechanical, 2) body, 3) electrical 4) pit crew 5) drivers 6) marketing, promotions and 7) project management.
Each group had a team lead that was responsible for activities in their area. For example, drivers were responsible for learning how to drive and knowing all rules. The team lead developed and administered tests to ensure rules were well understood. The pit crew researched and bought radios for race communications, and the body people, researched and designed...the body consulting with the drivers on rules and such. I’ll have to say for our first year this level of organization really worked well—in fact the team was able to win 1st place for both races they participated in.
My other team, shown with the black car is from Discovery Middle school, again another large team. This team was not organized with the same hierarchy—we chose to keep things simple for the middle schoolers. We did have a “tool master”, pit leader, drivers, and a project manager. What we did do worked well as Discovery scored both a 1st place and 2nd place finish for their 2 races, next year I think we’ll organize the team better though.
Tips for mentors
1) try to keep the team size to about 8-12 but you may choose to have larger teams as some will drop out and some will not be able to participate as much as others. I’ll make a later post on recruiting—stay tuned for that episode.
2) give the students clear and well defined roles. The better you define goals, the less “hand holding” you will have to do
2) hold the students accountable for the results. Keep in mind that you or the project manager should not run things like they did on “The Apprentice”.
3) treat all students like adults. If you need to teach, teach. If a student can teach, let them take the lead, if a student falls behind, entice the leads to help out. I’ll have a follow up post on dealing with conflict so keep reading.
4) remind them that the most important team member is—all of them. It’s hard to win a race when you can find the batteries, or drive, or build, or get funds to build, and so on.
I hope these posts are helpful. If you have any questions on how to address a situation, drop me a note—if it’s an important enough topic, I’ll make a post about it.