These notes are directed to JPL staff serving as mentors of students
conducting undergraduate research projects at JPL who are registered through
the Caltech Student-Faculty Programs Office in SURF, MURF, Amgen Scholars, Space Grant, JPLSIP, USRP, or PGGURP. Students
in all of these programs have the status of Fellows and come to JPL as Affiliates.
Who May Serve as a Mentor?
Any member of the JPL technical staff may serve as a mentor.
The Role and Responsibilities of the Mentor
The primary role of the mentor is to serve as the senior partner in a collaboration with the student. It is important that the student be offered and eventually accept intellectual responsibility for his/her own project, but for most students the project will be the first research experience, so the mentor has also to be a teacher and a coach as well as a partner.
The primary responsibilities of the mentor are to prepare for the student’s arrival and to help the student meet all of the requirements of the program sunder which the student is registered; however, there are a number of specific responsibilities that each mentor will have in preparing for the project and in guiding the student through it during the summer:
- Write an Announcement of Opportunity (AO) outlining the background, motivation, and objectives of the project and the nature of the work the student will do; stating any hazards to which the student may be exposed in carrying out the work and the specialized training that must be completed before the work may begin; providing literature references or web sites where the student will be able to learn more about the subject; and giving contact information. Information about how to submit an AO will be sent to potential JPL mentors in the fall.
- Consult with the student on the planning of the project and review a draft of the student's proposal. Note that the proposal should be the student’s product; the mentor may not write it, but may and should provide advice and guidance during its preparation.
- Complete the online Mentor Recommendation Form by the March
1 deadline. Mentors will be prompted by the SFP Online system to complete the
evaluation when the student has submitted his/her application. Contact
the SFPO at 626.395.2885 or via email if
you have questions or need further information.
- Make sure that the mentor’s organization is aware of the date of arrival of the student and that preparations have been made to provide a place for the student to sit, a computer, and a telephone.
- During the summer, oversee the student's work on the project and consult at regular and appropriate intervals. If the mentor will be away, he or she should designate a co-mentor or colleague to supervise the student.
- Sign the progress reports and abstract which the student must submit throughout the summer. Mentors should use the progress reports as an opportunity to discuss research progress, problems, etc. Students should use the reports to practice technical writing skills.
- Collaborate with the student in writing the abstract and final
report. The paper must be submitted electronically by the fourth Friday in
September. Mentors will receive a prompt from the SFP Online system to approve
the paper online. November 1 is the deadline for approved final reports.
- Help the student prepare for the oral presentation, normally
given during the third week in August.
An oral report is a requirement for all the students in SFP-sponsored programs.
- Ensure that the student will have an audience for his or her talk.
- Contact the Student-Faculty Programs Office [Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 626.395.2885] or the JPL Education Office [Adrian.Ponce@jpl.nasa.gov or call 818.354.4410] if administrative problems arise.
JPL Access Requirements
The Education Office will process On-Boarding (badging forms) on all students and faculty that come through our office assigning them to the hosting organizations. The Organization will need to approve the requests. The Education Office will maintain communication with the hosting organizations as to what students/faculty they should be expecting. The mentor should ensure that communication is kept with their Group Supervisors and Business Administration Managers (BAMs) as to who (students/faculty) they are expecting.
Safety Training Requirements
Education Office processing will require a Safety Hazard Assessment which itemizes the hazards to which the student may be exposed in the course of the project, so that the Occupational Programs Safety Office (OSPO) will be able to schedule the appropriate training courses, if required. The Assessment is done on-line through the Announcement of Opportunity process.
The Safety Office will give a general briefing during JPL student orientation, and two additional forms will be given to the student; the first is a Safety Orientation Checklist to be administered by line management and the student. Upon completion, the mentor and the student sign the Orientation Acknowledgement form to confirm completion of the checklist, and forward this form for Group Supervisor signature and return it to the Education Office.
Students receive $600/week paid by the program with which the student is affiliated.
JPL mentors pay a $1,000 administrative fee to the Student-Faculty Programs
Office at Caltech. Mentors will receive instructions for transferring funds
to the SFP Office.
Students may take vacation time during the summer with the approval of
the mentor; however, students must complete all 10 weeks of the program,
and all students must complete the ten weeks by the fourth Friday in
September. Extension for badges must be processed by the Education Office.