CREATING A SUPPORT NETWORK FOR STUDENTS THROUGH A STUDENT-LED MENTORING PROGRAM
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Mentoring programs at the college-level can occur in many forms. Some programs provide a mechanism for faculty and students to be engaged. Other programs work to link industry with current students. The purpose of most mentoring programs is to help increase the retention rate of students and provide a support network for them. To address these concerns, a mentoring program was started in the Aerospace Engineering Department at Texas A&M University to connect junior and senior level students to freshman and sophomore level students. The goals of the program are to: provide an understanding of what Aerospace Engineering is and possible applications and career paths; design and build fun and educational projects with students; provide advice on classes, professors, study habits, and general college life; host laboratory tours; discuss internships, research, and organizational involvement; handle tutoring sessions and office hours and motivate students about Aerospace Engineering. This paper will provide a framework for starting a mentoring program at your institution. While this is not a new idea, the authors will discuss why the current structure was selected and other iterations that have been utilized. The role of a mentor and mentee and the expectations of each will be detailed. Example time lines, activities, and structure will be provided. In addition, potential struggles and past experiences will be shared, and strategies utilized to effectively overcome these will be discussed. Departments with current mentoring programs and those looking to begin a new one will discover practical, effective methods in this paper. 2012 American Society for Engineering Education.