New Guide Enables Undergrads to Quickly Become Effective Mentors

Achievement date: 

Mentors could quickly apply leadership knowledge drawn from a new guide on mentoring, developed around the short-term, lab-based experiences of summer programs at the Center for Bio-mediated and Bio-inspired Geotechnics (CBBG), an NSF-funded Engineering Research Center (ERC) with headquarters at Arizona State University.


The guide enabled graduate students to serve effectively as mentors to the undergraduates and K-12 students and educators invited to the Center each summer for five- or eight-week programs. With minimal preparation time required in the approach, the guide could benefit other research centers in preparing mentors for their short-term, lab-based programs.


Mentoring is a recognizable workplace mechanism through which engineers commonly develop and improve their leadership skills, a key to ERCs preparing engineers for their futures. Recent studies have concluded that all STEM-education programs need to better incorporate leadership learning and practice.

Typical training programs tackle long-term, self-selected mentoring relationships and their complex social interactions. Short-term mentors in the Center’s summer programs can’t afford the time required of those training programs. The summer mentors instead benefited from the simplified concepts in the new publication, which the Center titled, CBBG Short-term, Lab-based Engineering Mentor Guide.

Besides developing the new guide, the Center integrated its concepts into online communication and social media tools used by program participants. The mentoring training included weekly meetings of mentors and mentees – two-hour, drop-in sessions held during each summer program to provide a relaxed environment for sharing experiences and gaining added guidance.