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Mentoring Manual

Why mentor?

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Reasons to be a mentor

There is much written about why we mentor. The motivation to mentor will differ from person to person, and role to role, but it is likely comprised of a combination of practical, professional, and personal imperatives, including:

  • Potential graduate students can be identified.
  • Including undergraduates and underrepresented minorities and women is sometimes required for the funding, or satisfies the broader impact criteria.
  • Undergraduates can contribute effectively to a research program.
  • Having additional students adds positive energy to the research group.
  • This opportunity for my graduate students to perform the daily mentoring will help their job prospects and professional development.
  • This is my role and obligation as an educator.

Mentoring can be demanding and requires a responsible approach, but at the same time mentoring can provide an enjoyable means for acting in accordance with one's personal values.


"I enjoy seeing what students can accomplish and helping to push them beyond what they think they are capable of. By guiding engineers who are just entering the field, I also feel I am giving something back to a profession and discipline I care about. On the other hand, mentoring takes time - there were some summers when I knew that I did not have the time or energy to effectively mentor, so did not take any interns."

- Dr. J. Adin Mann, M.E., faculty mentor, Iowa State University

Among a number of compelling reasons to mentor, Richard Myer of UC Davis highlights the learning experience of mentoring. In his article, "Why You Need To Mentor, No Matter What Your Level" he cites mentoring as a unique means to advance the knowledge and capabilities of the mentor through the act of teaching and guiding others.

The National Academy of Science publication, Advisor,Teacher, Role Model, Friend: On Being a Mentor to Students in Science and Engineering, provides additional information on the benefits of mentoring.


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