Fab Lab Carnegie Science Center: Mentors in the Making

The Mentors in the Making program is a 1:1 mentoring program at Fab Lab Carnegie Science Center (CSC) for youth ages 14-18 from low income families in the Pittsburgh area. 

Application

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

The Mentors in the Making program is a 1:1 mentoring program at Fab Lab Carnegie Science Center (CSC) for youth ages 14-18 from low income families in the Pittsburgh area.  Matched with an adult STEM professional, the pairs co-learn digital fabrication technologies, software, and design skills led by Fab Lab Education Facilitators.  The pairs meet weekly in the Fab Lab, for about 1.5 hours, and work through digital fabrication projects. Students are provided with all necessary materials, transportation costs, and a meal for each session.  After completing four projects and earning their certifications on the CNC machines, the mentoring pairs begin collaboration on a capstone project.  Once the capstone project has been prototyped and a minimum of 32 hours of 1:1 mentoring time has been met, the youth receive a laptop computer to keep and enable future design work.

CSC began a Mentors in the Making pilot program in October of 2017 and currently has 10 mentor pairs working on their capstone projects weekly during Mentoring Lab hours (Monday and Wednesday evenings 5:30-8:00).  Pairs will complete their capstone projects by the end of April 2018 and present their finished projects to the Mentoring Lab groups and families.

 

GROWTH

Mentors in the Making has been a successful program, maintaining 100% of mentors and mentees since starting in October of 2017.  There is currently a wait list for interested students, demonstrating the need to scale up this program to include more young people and STEM professionals.  CSC recently partnered with The Mentoring Partnership (TMP) to provide mentoring support and program analysis, sharing Elements of Effective Practices.  This partnership is working to enrich the quality of the mentoring relationship while reaching CSC’s goals of STEM integration and career awareness.

This in-depth, hands-on STEM-focused mentoring program could reach more students and STEM professionals in the Pittsburgh area and beyond with increased funding and commitments from additional mentors. Desired mentors are professionals in STEM fields who are interested in making a difference in the life of an at-risk youth in the area.  No previous fabrication experience is needed to be a mentor, just an interest in technology and a commitment to the process of developing meaningful making through mentoring. Fab Lab Staff Educators are on hand to help the pair work through the lessons and learn the software and hardware technologies. 

With the success of the pilot semester, CSC will continue to seek funding and partners to allow this program to grow and thrive, with several goals in mind for scaling the program:

  • Goal of 15 mentoring pairs in the 2018-2019 school year (starting in September)
  • 20 mentoring pairs in the 2019-2020 school year
  • Data collection and analysis from all three years (including current pilot year) examining results and impact
  • Development of employment pipeline for “graduating” mentees
  • Development of “Mentors in the Making Playbook” that could be used by other Fab Labs across the globe
  • Dissemination and presentation of the playbook to other digital fabrication labs via Fab Lab via conferences and events

WAYS YOU CAN SUPPORT THIS PROGRAM

  • Become a mentor by committing 90 minutes per week for the length of the program.
  • Help spread the word about our need for mentors among those inclined to make a difference in the life of a young person – all while learning fabrication skills!
  • Sponsor a student participant. A gift of $3,000 covers the cost of one participating student for the length of the program.
  • Connect CSC with potential funders and partners.