I am the lead mentor of the Walden First Robotics team. We were a rookie team this past year. The whole process was a mystery often until the last minute. There is a lot of information and it was not always clear what was essential to act on and what was “nice to know”. During the build phase I really had only one other parent (Mr. Lou) that helped out one or two days a week, so by default I filled the rest of the adult roles until the actual competition – at which point up we picked up a trained engineer (Mr. Meyer) who rolled up his sleeves with the kids and helped us over the hump along with Mr. Lou. I don’t know software, nor mechanical engineering, nor electrical, nor design, nor business… In fact, I have no technical skill cogent to our success. However, without a mentor, there is no team, no money and no robot, so we did something right. My teaching license is broad field science with minors in both chemistry and biology. I have been teaching chemistry and physics most of the time, more or less, since 1988. The notable exceptions were a year as a technician in an environmental lab and as a reservist called to active duty for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. During the wars I taught deploying Army battalion and brigade staff officers of engineer brigades and battalions, and of garrison commands how to do staff processes and how to command and control their subordinate units. “Lieutenant Colonel Weaver” was also the last commander of Camp Victory Iraq. My tour was spent supporting our troops who used that post to complete their missions while simultaneously deactivating the place to hand it back to the government of Iraq and dodging some insurgent artillery fire. After six years of the most challenging times in my life I ended up teaching science again – this time at Walden III middle and high school – and being the senior mentor of the Walden Walnuts. So, as it is plain to see, I have no special technical engineering skills to guide the kids in their quest to make the robot work. I was, however, blessed with a small group of dedicated kids who have the ability to meet and overcome challenges. My role is leadership, long and mid term vision, recruiting, encouragement, organization, team building, logistic support, sanity checks, resourcing, and support of their ideas – to facilitate their success. This basically what I did in the war. Just like “over there” the product is as good as the people you have working for you.
The Lead Mentor's main duties are to create and manage a safe environment for the entire team, from bottom to top. The Lead Mentor is allowed to provide input when prompted during Voting Body meetings, and is responsible for resolving conflict between team members. The Lead Mentor is also responsible for ensuring that the team stays on track and true to its vision statement. Finally, the Lead Mentor serves as the main adult supervisor for the team.