Mentoring Makes a Difference

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High-School Mentoring Event Helps Inspire the Next Generation of Engineers

That was the consensus of about 135 students, teachers, and engineers who gathered in Golden, Colorado, this week for an all-day mentoring event sponsored by Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company and the Colorado School of Mines.

Held in conjunction with National Engineers Week, the event gave students from five local high schools an opportunity to tour one of the top engineering schools in the nation. Over lunch, the students met with alumni from the school, who are now employed as engineers at Lockheed Martin.  They also spoke with current college students, including several from the Society of Women Engineers chapter at the Colorado School of Mines.

“Once you have an engineering undergraduate degree, the world is open to you,” said Paul Anderson, Lockheed Martin director of Avionics for the ORION program. “We do some incredibly cool stuff.  The projects I’ve had an opportunity to work on have literally visited the heavens.”

The students, who are all enrolled in STEM programs, each spoke with at least six Lockheed Martin engineers to gain an understanding of the range of opportunities that engineering can offer.  Those discussions dispelled some myths and opened the students’ eyes to new paths they could pursue.

“I didn’t realize how easily engineers could move around in their careers,” said high-school junior Troy Ogborn. “I thought you pretty much studied one thing, and that was it.”

High school teacher chaperones also stressed that mentoring events helped to encourage their students to pursue goals they had once thought impossible. A career in aerospace is an almost “surreal” aspiration to many students, one teacher said, but talking to real-life engineers changes their perspectives.

“It shows them that it is attainable. It’s not just some far-off dream,” said teacher Matt Brown.

He pointed to one student, who had participated in the same mentoring event last year. She had doubted her abilities and whether she “had what it takes” to be an engineer, he said. Her experience at the mentoring event convinced her to pursue her goals, and she is now a freshman studying engineering at the Colorado School of Mines.

He spoke with her on his way to the luncheon and asked her how she was enjoying her first year of studies.

“She told me, `It’s freaking awesome!’” he reported with a laugh. “Those were her exact words.”

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Michael Roth, Lockheed Martin Space Systems special programs software engineer and alumnus of the Colorado School of Mines, shares his insight on career paths in the engineering field while fielding questions from student participants.

highlights
  • Held in conjunction with National Engineers Week, the event gave students from five local high schools an opportunity to tour one of the top engineering schools in the nation.
  • The students, who are all enrolled in STEM programs, each spoke with at least six Lockheed Martin engineers to gain an understanding of the range of opportunities that engineering can offer.