The post above your post is my team. I can expand a bit and offer my perspective though. The team is student led like Chief Hedgehog mentioned, but mentors and students attack every challenge as equals. Our mentors aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty… but neither are our students. This year 90+% of our fabricated parts have been done on a manual mill by students. Mentors trained them before the season and they’ve been owning that machine since. I’d say a similar percentage of work has been done by students on the engineering/CAD side of things. That’s not because the mentors aren’t trying… the students are just crazier, and in some cases better at a lot of things! But they didn’t get that way because the mentors were hands off. Our students are so skilled because they’ve learned from our mentors both by watching them and working with them as equals.
My personal philosophy as a mentor is to try to solve every problem I can, and get the ball as far down field as possible so that when we’re figuring things out collaboratively, we’re solving problems that will make us successful at a high level. As mentors we could let the students struggle to assemble the kit bot… or we could help get the team to a place where we’re solving mechanism integration and other higher level problems. Ultimately this comes down to the question of whether it’s easier to inspire students with a successful robot or an unsuccessful robot. Within our program we’ve found that success breeds success.
The “right” answer to the mentor involvement question is that there is no right answer. Every program is different and all that matters is that students are learning and becoming inspired.
Our students are mentor built and proud of it!