by Dallas Downing
The Alumni Association is a recent addition to the RoboJackets organizations and is a great way for former members to reconnect with each other for personal and professional networking. Beyond that, it provides a way for alumni to continue to support RoboJackets through donations and mentoring current students. Today we are going to take a quick look at the ways that the association can help the students through a collection of projects proposed by the current members of the alumni association.
There are two forms for the activities the association may perform. The first are long-term collaborations between current students and alumni, dubbed “projects”. These are on-going projects meant to last a long time that require collaborative effort from students and alumni. The second are on-demand activities that are smaller in scope, led by alumni, dubbed “services”. These are activities that are proposed by alumni and requested from current RJ leadership that can help the organization operate. The goal of both of these activities is to continue and improve developing students’ skills by supplementing student efforts. Care is taken to avoid taking work from current students and only assisting in areas where alumni have experience that students may not.
The end result is a list of ways that alumni can help out. Below is the current catalog offered. You can read about each offering more in-depth in the official catalog. If you are an alumnus and are interested in helping with any of these efforts, make sure you join the alumni Slack and fill out the volunteer survey so you can be contacted for further information. Thank you for your help!
- Alumni Design Reviewers: With experience in RoboJackets and in industry, alumni are the perfect candidates for providing design feedback to current members in any field. This service provides alumni volunteers that can attend RJ design reviews. While students are still responsible for coordinating design reviews, alumni can improve the quality of the review and model good review practices for the students.
- Event Planning Mentorship: The pandemic made almost all in-person events non-existent for the past year, which has reduced the number of students in RoboJackets who have attended or hosted events. This loss of experience can be made up using the experience of alumni mentors in planning and coordinating internal and external events. The goal of this service is to provide valuable planning resources to the students planning these events.
- Shop Furniture Construction: Custom furniture helps meet the needs of RoboJackets’ shop space while also reducing the cost. Building furniture, however, requires time and skills that students may not have. If the students need help with a furniture project, alumni can provide design and construction assistance.
- Shop Layout Consulting: In a similar vein as above, managing a shared maker space can be difficult, especially without the historical knowledge of the space. This service provides consulting volunteers that can assist students with planning or managing the layout of the shop to best meet their needs.
- Small Tool Training: The SCC has a system in place to train students on using the large machining equipment in the CMA, but RoboJackets lacks such a system for smaller tooling in RJ shop space. The goal of this service is to help bridge any generational gaps in knowledge of using these tools by providing alumni to lead a session on using these tools. This allows students to better understand and use these tools and to create up to date documentation on them.
- Software Training Curriculum Development: Training new members is critical to RoboJackets’ success but puts a lot of responsibility on students. Since the training content does not change much from year to year, this is a perfect opportunity for alumni to do some of the demanding work. This service provides alumni who can help develop the training curriculum and prepare the student trainers with resources and tools to be used in the training sessions. Currently the association is providing help with software training.
- Student Job Search Preparation Help: RoboJackets alumni are the best resource for current students who are looking for a job since alumni understand the work that goes into RoboJackets and how to best present that work to potential employers. Students can request help in resume writing, interview preparation, or networking.
- Alumni Trip Planning Mentorship / Assistance: The logistics of trips that RoboJackets makes can be daunting for students as they are trying to wrap up their work on projects for competition. Students are responsible for planning the trip, but alumni have experience and insight that students may be lacking. This service provides alumni mentors who can provide leaders with feedback on the many aspects of planning a successful trip.
- Alumni-Support Leadership Retreat: The RoboJackets leadership retreat is an opportunity for student leaders to connect with each other and reflect on the challenges of leadership and the future of RoboJackets. This project is aimed at providing volunteers who can facilitate the discussions and execution of the annual retreat. Alumni volunteers would only help when requested and would only assist with activities that could not be well executed by the new RoboJackets leadership.
- Alumni Newsletter Writing: If you are reading this newsletter, you already know what this is about. This newsletter is meant to keep alumni or current students like you informed about what exciting things are going on in the world of RoboJackets. This ongoing effort is managed by the current student leadership, but (almost) all the articles are written by alumni, like this one. If you want to know more about the newsletter’s history, check out this article from a prior issue.