Tech mentor — Reeve Connect
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Tech mentor

slomobile
slomobile Member Posts: 3
First Comment
Most people, regardless of ability level, education, or employment status could benefit from having a tech mentor.  That same person can benefit themselves, and others, by being a tech mentor.

I was inspired to write a bit about my own experience with FIRST and the Americorp VISTA program after reading https://www.christopherreeve.org/blog/life-after-paralysis/peer-family-support-spotlight-peter-nowell

"The day is long. I wanted to help fill the big black void. That was my major motivator to get involved with mentoring."
Me too.

I went to engineering school to learn to make a living with my mind rather than my broken body.  It wasn't worth the debt and ended prematurely, but the relationships I made changed the course of my life.

Daniel Kohn, Thomas Banning, and Robert Hewitt pulled me on board with them to support Memphis schools students and teachers in building robotics teams.  Robotics is now a real team sport.

FIRST hosts coopertitions for high school and below.  They rely on volunteers like you and me.  Special skills are not required, but welcome if you have some.  There are rewarding opportunities for everyone that can pass a background check to work with children.  Cyborg enhanced (wheelchair equipped) individuals are well supported at international and regional events.  Local accessibility varies, but is usually inside a school so pretty good.

Only a few of the many volunteer positions require a technical background.  Even those are based on what you know, not who you know or where you matriculated from or worked for.  All FIRST volunteers are mentors to the kids.  We also tend to mentor each other, because we are in this together.  Free training is provided.  I received additional training, opportunities, an actual desk, per diem, and tuition assistance as an Americorp VISTA volunteer.  That training involved travel to nice places with nice accommodations which the program paid for.  It is a nice win win situation for all involved.  We also travel as a group, and stay in hotels as a group when we go to compete.  The group carries all the tools, spare parts, several batteries and chargers, ramps, carts, knowledge, and student labor to fix their robots, so a wheelchair breakdown in a strange city is no big deal.  It is the most secure I have ever felt traveling with my chair. 

Our corporate sponsors donate the materials, and we help the kids turn it into something innovative to solve a new problem each year, in "not quite enough time".

I hope anyone looking for something to keep busy checks out these programs.  Its good for them, its good for you.

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