Back from the ATL…
Well, let me see if I can explain… As a mentor, I am a HUGE part of the team. The RPM booster club is, after all, the robotics PARENTS and MENTORS. A mentor doesn’t have any students on the team. A parent does have a student on the team. That’s the big difference. Some mentors have NO techical background. My wife is a mentor - and she works in advertising. We do have one parent who wants to be called a mentor because he doesn’t want people to think of him as a fellow student’s dad, and that’s cool. No real difference. Just the way the parent’s started the booster club, and just the way it stuck.
As mentors, we help with technical design. But we also help with chairman’s awards. With fundraising ideas. With team building parties. With scholarship activites. Off season activites. Helping the school develop an intro to engineering class. Etc… etc… etc… I would say the mentors and parents are very much part of the team. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be shot up in laser tag, stay up all night at a 24 hour walk-a-thon for cancer research, and spend our summers helping students build RC cars.
I think that helps frame where our team comes from…
All I was saying is that, as a mentor on a trip, we are responsible for alot of what is going on in the pits and all the field. As you know, it’s a long day. In addition to having fun and learning with the students, we are typically responsible for the safety and learning that the students are involved with. We have limited mentors (or parents) and we need backup. At the end of the competition day, it’s good to know that we have parents as chaperones. “Mentors” get tired. I think we all feel safer knowing that a fresh set of people are there to step in and help out. That doesn’t mean we don’t go out to dinner with the team, or play cards in hotel rooms until late at night. But is does mean that I don’t have to drag myself out of bed at check-in time and make sure everyone is where they need to be, because I know someone else is doing that check.
As far as the bus/plane issue - This is the second time in 5 years I have not traveled with the team. I’ve done the bus many times. But because my company does not allow for time off for robotics, I had to get down and back quickly.
So I think this is a definition issue. If you’ve ever seen our robot, you’d know that the “mentors” are not there only to work on the robot. If anything, we work on the students, and let the robot go by the way side. Part of our definition system is not identifing non-engineering mentors - we are all just mentors. I don’t mind calling out some people as non-engineering, but we don’t. It’s all good.
I hope this helps - sorry to be so long winded. Let me know if you have any other questions.
If you need more proof, I have a sinking feeling that there will be a few videos of me from Atlanta on this website in a few days. The students are still trying to decide if they like “Bungee Brian” or “Screaming Brian” better.