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Engineering Mentoring

Engineering Mentoring

Engineering Mentoring

An interesting paper I stumbled across.  I was lucky enough to have a pretty good mentor myself when I got out of school.  

Any good mentor stories?  Are there still people and companies willing to take time to mentor these days?


RE: Engineering Mentoring

this site covers some aspects of mentoring ... answering questions ... but that is also something we have to watch.  IMHO, we should validate the answers given in lieu of just applying them ... this site should help direct people towards answers and they should discover them for themselves ... but then, i could be just another lune sitting in front of my 'puter (cringe) in my bathrobe (or not !)

RE: Engineering Mentoring

Mentoring means two people need to be in the same place at the same time.  In these days of lean staffing, that's getting to be less possible.  A shame.


Eng-Tips policies:  FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies

RE: Engineering Mentoring

Your version is what I would call 'ideal mentoring'.

It grades down from there until 'no mentoring' is reached.

Less than ideal mentoring is better than none at all.


RE: Engineering Mentoring

Most people who have not had a good mentor don't understand what a mentor should do.  Out of four jobs I have had the past 30 years, two of them had engineers who were assigned by a supervisor to be a mentor to me.  Both of these mentors thought their job was to show me where the office supplies were, how to fill out various forms, and other similar tasks.  My first mentor right after I graduated from college bragged about how quickly he got me up and running on my own.  He made me feel like the fewer questions I had to ask him, the better engineer I was.  I now realize I would have been a much better engineer if I had been less productive and ask a lot more questions.

RE: Engineering Mentoring

I was very lucky.  My first boss had a door between his office and mine, and I was in and out of it all the time.  His approach was "Here is your task, here is why this task is important, and here is what you will learn from doing it.  Let me know if you have questions."  I could ask as many or as few questions as I wanted; other than that he left me to my own devices.  A perfect situation, at least for me.  He also got me involved at the national level in various committees, which had the (perhaps unintended) effect of leaving me a good network to reach out to when he left.

My subsequent bosses have not been mentors.  I have tried to be one to my junior co-workers.


Eng-Tips policies:  FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies

RE: Engineering Mentoring

Mentoring is one of my favorite "pastimes" in engineering.  Over the years I've found ample opportunities to mentor some very good young engineers.  But here are some issues and difficulties with it:

1.  There is a fine balance as to how much hand-holding you do.  A successful mentoring relationship needs to be fine tuned to the abilities of the person being mentored.  Some engineers are very much self-learners while others need more hand-holding.  A good mentor will evaluate this and respond accordingly.

2.  Mentoring is partly pure teaching and partly "showing the way and getting out of the way".

3.  The mentor has to WANT to mentor and the mentoree has to WANT to be mentored.

4.  Sometimes (manytimes?) the workload gets in the way of good mentoring - the work has to be finished and there sometimes is not enough time to mentor properly.

5.  As time goes on the young engineer goes through phases:
     a)  Pure learning - not having a clue.
     b)  Grasping some tasks but still needing direction.
     c)  More independent but needs questions answered often.
     d)  Almost fully independent, thinks they have questions to be answered but really just need assurance from the senior engineer that they are on the right track.
     e)  Finally realizes, upon asking their mentor a question, that they know the answer better than the mentor.

For me, as a mentor, item 5(e) above is the most satisfying.

RE: Engineering Mentoring

I can't speak for other disciplines, but for Structural Engineering, internship is required in pursuit of licensure. Internship is a form of mentorship. The application for licensure does not require the intern to have a positive mentoring experinece, but it sure helps!

Richard L. Flower, P. E., LEED Green Associate
Senior Structural Engineer
Complere Engineering Group, Inc.

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