Where possible we try to arrange that competitor teams receive a regular mentor. As well as providing support and guidance to the team, this volunteer typically becomes the competitors' main contact with Student Robotics.

For this role, mentors need good access to information which may be pertinent to competitors and compliment the information we send directly to team leaders.

This page provides an overview of how we organise mentoring and is intended both for potential mentors and a team coordinator looking to organise mentoring.

What mentoring entails

It's important to convey to potential mentors that even a small amount of their time can make a really big impact to the teams they're supporting.

While we do have teams whose team leader is well able to support their development, many teams are supervised by adults with little or no engineering, electronics or software expertise and the mentor thus provides valuable access to knowledge and experience.

There are two main parts to mentoring:

Guiding the team's thinking:

Helping the team work through a specific problem, perhaps by asking leading questions or introducing concepts they may not have considered. We also have separate documentation on how to ask those questions for those who have not mentored before. This may include suggesting ways for the team to think about a problem so that they better solve it themselves. A regular mentor will also build rapport with the team and act as someone to bounce ideas off that has context on the team's robot while also being outside the team enough to provide a slightly different perspective.

Helping solve specific issues:

If a team have a specific issue, either with their robot, code or kit, then an in-person mentor is likely to be able to help the team resolve that issue much faster than a remote mentor or a post in the forums. This is primarily because the mentor is so much closer to the issue, greatly reducing the cycle time for any information about the issue and potential fixes. However it does not mean that the mentor needs to understand how to fix every issue they hit -- even during a mentored session, more involved issues might be posted to the forums or the mentor might post in Slack to ask questions from other volunteers. In this regard the mentor may be a conduit to the fix for an issue rather than directly solving it for the team.

In person schedule

For a typical in person mentoring session the mentor might:

  • Arrange the timings with the team leader (initially this will be handled by the SR teams coordinator as part of matching up mentors with teams)
  • Arrive at the school/college/etc.
  • Present themselves at reception, stating that they're a mentor from Student Robotics and giving the team leader's name (as well as their own)
  • Be met by the team leader, who will guide them to where the team are
  • Guide the team for an hour
  • Leave
  • Post in #teams in Slack a quick update on how the team is doing

Remote/virtual schedule

For a typical remote mentoring session the mentor might:

  • Arrange the timings & video-call link with the team leader (initially this will be handled by the SR teams coordinator as part of matching up mentors with teams)
  • Join the video call
  • Guide the team for an hour
  • Leave
  • Post in #teams in Slack a quick update on how the team is doing

Information we gather from potential mentors

  • Confirmation that they are over 18
  • Name
  • Email address
  • Roughly how often could commit to mentor a team
  • Time (of day, days of week) available to mentor a team
  • What skills they possess that makes them a suitable mentor
  • Previous SR experience

For mentors who would be visiting teams in person, we also need:

  • Location (approximate)
  • How far they are willing to travel to mentor

Example recruitment emails

Information we provide to mentors

Aside from guidance on how to encourage learners and our safeguarding requirements, we don't currently have any structured training for mentors on technical topics, though we have in the past run mentor days.

Mentor days involved a one-day competition for the mentors, with volunteers grouped into teams of mixed experience and using pre-built robot bases. They provided a way for the mentors to learn about the kits by using them as well as to get to know other volunteers.

Information we gather from teams

  • Team
  • When (time of day, day of week) and how often they meet
  • Where they meet

Example emails

For SR2021 we sent several emails to teams at varying levels of activity, first offering mentoring to those who seemed to be struggling more before offering to everyone.

Organising mentoring


When organising mentoring you are encouraged to reach out to both teams and potential mentors as early as possible. We haven't found that there's substantial advantage in trying to gather information from one group first, rather that because it takes a while for everyone to respond starting early and following up (particularly with teams) several times tends to work better.

Typically you will have more teams who are interested in a mentor than mentors available, so you likely want to wait until you have a good feel for which teams would like mentors and the mentor availability you can begin assigning mentors to teams. This allows you to make best use of mentor availability while reducing the chances you need to swap mentors around later.

While doing this you're encouraged to reply to teams/mentors promptly to acknowledge their request for a mentor/offer to be a mentor.

Once you've worked out which mentors match with which teams, you should email the team leader introducing the mentor and helping to set up their attendance at the first meeting. More experience mentors may be willing/able to handle this introduction themselves, though for newer mentors an explicit introduction is encouraged.

During the competition year, when mentoring is ongoing, you should keep in contact with mentors to understand both how their teams are doing and how the mentor is doing.


In SR2021 information from teams and mentors were captured into a fresh worksheet within the internal teams spreadsheet, with rows by team and columns of:

  • TLA
  • Want Mentor? (primarily to disambiguate negative replies from lack of reply)
  • Where messaged (typically email/Discord; for easy later reference)
  • Meeting time
  • Platform
  • Assigned (the mentor assigned to the team)
  • Notes

A later section in the same sheet contain mentor information with columns of:

  • Mentors (name)
  • Assigned (TLA)
  • Notes
  • Availability