On Being a MENTOR

2005 is here, and many of us are busy trying to make good on our New Year's resolutions. Perhaps you vowed to eat less and exercise more or spend more time with family. Me? I resolved to be a better mentor.

That older generations have a responsibility to educate and inspire younger ones is an unwritten ethic, one, unfortunately, that is becoming as quaint as slide rules and pads of psychrometric charts. As the connection between generations is lost, mistakes are repeated, and learning curves are turned into learning cycles. Mentoring is a simple, inexpensive, and mutually rewarding way to bridge the generation gap and accelerate learning.

I long have viewed HPAC Engineering as a mentoring tool, never more so than after a recent exchange of letters with Roger Haines and Don Bahnfleth, two long-time friends of the magazine who are among the wisest men I know in this industry. Through my correspondence with them, I was inspired to discuss mentoring with you in hopes of helping to reinstitutionalize it in the engineering community. Hence, this editorial and the publication of one of Roger's letters on Page 68.

Through his letter, Roger teaches us that we all are teachers and students throughout our lives, only we do not always know which role we are playing at a given time. His letter reminds us that being a life-long student is the greatest lesson we can impart by example. By opening our minds to new perspectives, techniques, and technologies and by asking questions, we can inspire others to do the same.

One of the best things about mentoring is that it can be so easy. Try initiating regular brown-bag or Dutch-treat lunches. Ask younger engineers what they want to learn, and share tools and resources, such as books and magazine articles, with them. Being a mentor for 10 minutes is better than not being one at all. The best advice concerning mentoring I have received is this: Keep it simple, keep it informal, and, most importantly, keep it up.

Send comments and suggestions to [email protected]. For previous editor's pages, visit www.hpac.com.

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