Lazy Mentor Training System

Hi Folks,

I’ve just submitted a new paper:

If you’re anything like our team, about this time last year, we were frustrated by how much the mentors were doing. Our ideal was lazy mentors, socializing and taking it easy; not having to poke and prod and drive students.

So we, the lazy mentors of Team 2823, decided to do something about it, and we built a training system. And so far, it’s been helping! But we’ve got more we need to do to get ourselves to a full life of ease and relaxation, so we’re hoping to get other mentors to collaborate.

You can read the paper (recommended), or jump right in at this link:

We’d love to hear from other lazy mentors; feel free to email me at jwhite -at- if you’d be willing to collaborate after build season is done.


High Lazy Mentor Jeremy

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nice work, I think I’ll install a Laz-Z-Boy at the shop, I need one.

Thanks for taking the time to create and share this! It’s always been tough figuring out how to teach new members the ropes for us. Last year, one of the mentors had these power points that contained great information but were incredibly boring, and we lost quite a few members because it just wasn’t interesting. This year we went about it rather haphazardly with the mentality of, “make stuff and you’ll figure it out” and I fear they didn’t learn much. Getting new members involved is tough for us because we’re at a pretty small school that focuses more on fine arts and people seem to lose interest. As a result, we normally have a team of around 10 kids, half of whom show up for every meeting and while I would like for the mentors to step back at times, we could never get a finished robot without their help.
You might want to add some information about different drive trains and their advantages, talons (is that what the empty page was for?), and pneumatics.

I hope it helps - we think it’s a bit more fun than dry PowerPoint slides.

We don’t talk about drive trains (at least not yet), but we are hoping to build a ‘Design 101’ / Design 102, probably around the great Encyclopedia Robotica put out by MN Go First (U of M robotics club). That link is here:

It’s a bit old, but still good, I think. They also do a ‘mock’ kick off that we think is a good way to think about the design process.



Great work! To point out on the programming side, even simple things like getting the robot to just display joystick values can be a big step forward. Then you can step back and do specifics. i found I liked to get too much into the theory and history and details of how things work, and needed to step back, make something work an then introduce those other details as we go along.

I love the programming and electronics parts so I can get a little crazy in those areas, but when I get interested kids they can go a long ways.


That may give me more time to work on more important things.

I found his really cool, and I’m happy to see you focus on the student’s growth.

I would mention, that when I was a student, one of my favorite parts of FIRST (even more than building the robots) was teaching. I loved showing the new people how to use tools and telling them about the different types of drive systems and mechanisms.

I would suggest that you make sure your students get some experience with that as well. Of course, that requires veteran members who show an interest in teaching so it’s not right for everyone, but I see it as one of the most important parts of FIRST.

Maybe after a year or so of the LazyMentor program you will have enough veteran members with enough knowledge to teach some of the other classes. I would hope they would also get a chance to share their knowledge.

We’ve been lazy mentors for several years. We don’t work on the robot. If kids don’t work on the robot, it doesn’t get built.

Oh, we’re there to advise and bounce ideas off, and sometimes express disappointment or deliver praise, but for the most part the kids are told it’s their game, go at it.

We even have the seniors teaching the younger members their crafts. I don’t need to do Lathe Lessons much anymore.

Of course, we all keep our eagle eyes open for danger and wrong usage. Like today, 2 kids were trying to drill a 1/2" hole in lexan…with a 1/2" drill, no pilot hole. sigh.

So how did you get there? Did you have a program? When do the kids learn to use the Lathe?

Hey, is this still a program? I’d love to see some of these presentations, but the link just takes me to a Google Drive folder with a few pictures of 80-20. We’re a student run team and right now we’re trying to figure out how to train our new members. This sounds like it would be perfect. Any chance there’s a working link somewhere?

Huh. I guess you need to be careful what permissions you give your students, because years later, you may find your folders gutted without your noticing.

And Google Drive sure doesn’t make it easy to get this stuff back. I think I’ve successfully recreated the bulk of the Lazy Mentor System here:

Note that it is now out of date; we have not been using it for the past few years. But I’m more than happy to share it in case it helps inspire others.



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For what it’s worth, since 2014 I’ve switched teams, and we’re almost at the lazy sweet spot again…

Thank you for these tools. I’m going into my 3rd year as lead coach. The Mentor (My) involvement is also too much at times for many of the same reasons others expressed other places. Shop familiarity and most of the students like the idea of robots just lack the practical usage. Our team is 0% school / shop supported as mentors go. We are all former students or parents of past/current students. I fell into the role because of my 19 years of industrial electrical automation and Son I forced into joining year one cause I wanted to. We now both enjoy the challenge. These tracking sheets and short lesson plans are just what I needed. I try to share my total knowledge of everything from tools, hardware, safety, electrical, and software but loose the who got the training and who didn’t.