Building Community - Piloting a Local FTC Mentor Network
Every job is a tech job in the future.
It is critically important that students have an opportunity to develop their tech skills, STEM skills, and leadership skills at an early age to set them up for long-term success. Students learn best when they have access to hands-on learning opportunities, adult role models and mentors, and a connection to their local community.
Wisconsin is in need of tech talent.
FIRST provides students with the skills they need to thrive in the future. The FIRST Wisconsin community is in an ideal position to expand student access to FIRST across all 65,496 square miles of this state.
In order to introduce more students to the FIRST program in Wisconsin we need to increase our capacity to better support our rookie teams, mentors, and students. To increase this support, we need a strong network of veteran mentors, passionate FIRST alumni, and FTC teams who are willing to go the extra mile to welcome new members of our community.
Thankfully, our community has all of these elements, which is how the idea of piloting a local FTC Mentor Network came to be.
Building a Community for Mentors
This blog post kicks off the pilot for a new resource for developing FTC teams in the state - a local FTC Mentor Network.
Special thanks to Amjad Jabbar for starting this discussion, supporting the creation of this group, and facilitating this first meeting!
Read more to learn about the agenda for the first meeting, facilitated by Amjad, and RSVP for the event.
In order to grow teams, we need to address these four key factors:
Mentors - We can't offer this opportunity to our youth without adult mentors. We need to reduce barriers to entry, provide training, and create collaborative platforms for mentors to learn and share
Student interest - This is usually high, once the students see how FIRST is fun
Funding - The Wisconsin State Robotics League Participation Grant (aka matching grants) has increased to $750K, where each team could receive up to $6000
Events and Volunteers - As teams grow, volunteers and events need to scale with that growth
Creating a local and accessible mentor network would be the first step to solving for a larger mentor availability across the state to start teams.
What is the FIRST Wisconsin FTC Mentor Network : The intention is to create a forum for adult mentors of the FTC program to network locally in the state. It is complementary to the FIRST Mentor Network and allows for mentors to interact with each other through physical and virtual meetings. The goal is to develop and deliver trainings to each other and be available for larger sharing of ideas, materials, and funding sources, coordinate outreach opportunities, and provide technical support. It would allow new mentors learn the ropes, and help experienced mentors share their expertise. This concept aligns with the larger spirit of Coopertition and Gracious Professionalism, core values of FIRST.
Kick off and First Meeting of FTC Mentor Network :
Date : 2nd Sept 2023 from 9am to 12pm
Location : (Virtual and In person)
In person : Brookfield Central High School (Library), 16900 Gebhardt Rd, Brookfield, WI 53005, Brookfield WI
Virtual : Please RSVP, the link will be emailed to the virtual meeting attendees who RSVPed by 8am CT on September 2nd.
Please register for the FTC Mentor Network and RSVP for the meeting here: Register for the FIRST WI FTC Mentor Network & RSVP for the Meeting.
Please express your availability and interest in topics to be discussed in the Mentor network - both what you would like to learn and what you would like to share.
Following is the agenda for the kick off meeting :
Introduction to Mentor Network
Get to know the attendees
Discussion on how to effectively run the FIRST Wisconsin FTC Mentor Network
Establishing communication and collaboration channels
Volunteers for coordinators and trainers
Discussion / training on 2 most sought after areas of interest
We are hoping this would be a unique and exciting add to the cause of growing FIRST and FTC in Wisconsin.
We're looking forward to seeing you at the meeting!
P.S. - Consider the following list of example topics that the mentor network could hold training sessions on and see if we're missing any!
Role of mentors for FTC
Setting up of FTC team - recruitment, running teams
Budgeting and Funding
Starting community teams, Non-profit organization setup.
Outreach and STEAM promotion
Importance of being reachable and connected on Social media for teams
Mechanical design concepts and learnings
Electrical design concepts and learnings
Software Development for FTC
Autonomous mode Programming
Vision Programming with April Tags and FTC Machine Learning
Resource Library for FTC
Volunteering in FIRST - judges, referees, tournament hosts, technical roles
Judging criteria for awards
Deans list nomination