Mentorship is the key

I want to thank you for the excellent article about STEM and STEAM education in Ontario in Engineering Dimensions (“From STEM to STEAM,” September/October 2018).

The article highlights the evolution that educators are witnessing in their classrooms at every level of learning, from kindergarten to university. You have brought forward a number of the challenges they face and have provided concrete solutions, like the unique experiential programming at various schools and opportunities for hands-on learning provided by FIRST Robotics Canada. Through FIRST programs, students face real-world challenges as they work together to find solutions. We know the family of programs that engage students from Grades 1 to 12 have a significant impact on their choices for their life’s work; research shows that 90 per cent choose STEM-related fields. Clearly, FIRST promotes a focus on STEM that encourages a diverse group of students to pursue engineering as a profession—a desire we share!

Thank you for your coverage of our FIRST family of programs. Team mentors are always looking for professional role models for their students. Working side by side with an engineer has a profound impact on students’ consideration of their future. We also know the mentors derive significant satisfaction from the experience. One mentor commented recently that she had not had as much fun since working with a team on the challenges of her summative project in fourth-year engineering! If you have any questions from readers about how to become a mentor, you can direct them to the FIRST Canada website at

Dorothy Byers, chair, board of directors, FIRST Robotics Canada