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2023 Thesis Mentorship Program Guide

january - may 2023

Industrial design students in their last semester at Virginia Tech work on a final, semester-long project called thesis. This is their opportunity to explore a specific topic of choice, challenge themselves, and demonstrate their design process as they work towards a quality solution. VT’s Industrial Design Advisory Board (IDAB) is working in collaboration with the thesis studio instructors, Brook Kennedy and Yoon Jung Choi, to provide 1-on-1 opportunities for students to meet with design professionals for progress reviews and mentorship. 

Mentor Sign Up

Mentor sign up for the 2023 Thesis Mentorship Program has closed. Thank you for your interest! Follow us on LinkedIn and keep an eye out for additional opportunities with IDAB and VTID in the future.

Important Info and Dates

Starting on January 17th, thesis students meet with their studio professors every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday throughout the spring semester. Mentors are asked to meet virtually a minimum of four times during specific weeks (i.e. Meeting 1, Meeting 2, Meeting 3, and Meeting 4) throughout the semester at a day/time congruent with the mentor and assigned student’s schedules. Mentors can also participate in additional optional meetings with their student at any point throughout the semester at their own discretion.

Schedule

Date
Mandatory Activities
Description
Tue 1/17 - Fri 1/20
--
First week of classes
Mon 2/6 - Sun 2/12
Meeting 1
First meeting between student and mentor
Mon 2/20 - Sun 2/26
Meeting 2
Second meeting between student and mentor
Mon 3/20 - Sun 3/26
Meeting 3
Third meeting with student and mentor
Mon 4/3 - Sun 4/9
Meeting 4
Fourth meeting between student and mentor
Wed 4/26 & Fri 4/28
--
Thesis Jury Defense / Final Presentation
TBD
--
Links to students' final work will be publicly available

Student Final Deliverables

  • Public final presentation

    • Slidedeck/video

    • Works-like/looks-like prototype

  • Post-presentation Submission

    • Final process book

    • Project video

    • Online portfolio piece

Goals of Thesis Mentorship Program

  • Provide students with access to professional resources within disciplines related to their thesis topics

  • Ensure students are receiving a high standard of constructive feedback and guidance during project development 

  • Help students understand realistic challenges and considerations within the respective industry

  • Expose VTID alumni and professional friends to our promising and talented VTID students

  • Provide opportunities for students to connect directly with design professionals

Meeting Structure

We ask that you meet a minimum of four times with your student. Of course, you are welcome to meet more frequently if that is better for you both. Each student is assigned to two mentors. In the past, we’ve recommended 1-on-1 meetings, but we realize many mentors choose to team up with their professional counterparts for 2-on-1 sessions. We recommend you conduct your meetings as you see fit; if both mentors are more comfortable with meeting with their student 2-on-1, great, but if you’d prefer 1-on-1, do that!

Meeting 1: Monday, February 6 - Sunday, February 12

  • Set up your first mandatory meeting with your assigned student. We recommend a 30 minute session

  • Your meeting should include:

    • Introductions - Who are you? What do you do? Why’d you want to participate? Who is the student? 

    • Student initial project presentation - Students will be instructed by faculty to present their project statement and any preliminary research they’ve conducted on their project topic

    • Feedback and conversation - Help them narrow down their topic and shape a convincing argument.

      • Did the students have a valid project statement with supporting evidence? 

      • Is this goal and its objective achievable within the prospective timeline? If they need to pivot, what is necessary in the new direction in order for them to be successful given the timeframe?

      • Note: If they need a major change in their direction please inform the professor immediately. 

Meeting 2: Monday, February 20 - Sunday, February 26

  • Set up your second mandatory meeting with your assigned student. We recommend a 30 minute session

  • Make sure your meeting includes:

    • Student project presentation - Please make sure this is no longer than 10 minutes. Again, if they go over, please communicate that to them.

    • Feedback and conversation - Evaluate their related research and its progress, evaluate their concept and ideation direction. 

      • Where have they improved? 

      • What do they still need to work on? 

      • Do they need a major change in direction? 

Meeting 3: Monday, March 20 - Sunday, March 26

  • Set up your third mandatory meeting with your assigned student. We recommend a 30 minute session​

  • Make sure your meeting includes:

    • Student project presentation - Please make sure this is no longer than 10 minutes. Again, if they go over, please communicate that to them.

    • Feedback and conversation - Give feedback about each concept that can help them narrow down to one direction. 

      • Where have they improved? 

      • What do they still need to work on? 

      • Are they on track to meet the timeline they proposed? 

      • Do they need a major change in direction?​

Meeting 4: Monday, April 3 - Sunday, April 9

  • Set up your fourth mandatory meeting with your assigned student. We recommend a 30 minute session

  • Make sure your meeting includes:

    • Student project presentation - Please make sure this is no longer than 10 minutes. Again, if they go over, please communicate that to them.

    • Feedback and conversation - Provide final solution development and storytelling critiques.

      • What is missing from their solution?

      • What perspectives or other points of view are not being considered?

      • How do they need to improve project storytelling?​

Fun Screenshot Request

You may have seen in previous years, but we love to brag about our mentors. We want to recognize all of you for being amazing volunteers who are willing to give your time (and energy) to our students. If you (and your student) consent to it, please provide us with a screenshot of one of your virtual meetings so we can share it on our LinkedIn and website, like we did in 2020, 2021, and 2022. Just one tip: make sure you change the layout settings on the video conferencing app so that we can see each person (including YOU) equally before taking the screenshot. 

 

To submit screenshots, email us at vt.idab@gmail.com with the subject “2023 Thesis Mentor Screenshots”. Please make sure your images are sent to us by Monday, April 14, 2023. Maybe even create a reminder to take the screenshots :)

FAQ

Who hosts the virtual meeting sessions?

That’s up to you and your assigned student. If there is a preferred virtual meeting platform, go with that! Each student has a personal Zoom room, so that’s always an option.

Who’s my student’s thesis professor?

Though Brook Kennedy and Yoon Jung Choi are both the professors for the thesis students, they will individually be the primary advisor for each student. When the mentor and student pairings are sent out, each student’s primary faculty advisor will be noted so you will know which professor to contact if you have any questions for them.

What do I do if my student never replies to my correspondence?

Contact us and we’ll get it sorted! Preferably, email both IDAB (vt.idab@gmail.com) and the students’ thesis professor, Brook Kennedy (brook.kennedy@vt.edu) and Yoon Jung Choi (yjchoi@vt.edu), so we can get a hold of the student and figure out what’s going on (though if you have our personal numbers or want to DM us on the VTID Alumni Slack that will get things going quickly as well). Even if it’s only been a few days, don’t hesitate to reach out - it’s better to get ahead of it because a delay can really put the student in a rough spot with deadlines.

Can I talk to the class instructor?

Yes! Though Brook Kennedy and Yoon Jung Choi are both the professors for the thesis students, they will individually be the primary advisor for each student. When the mentor and student pairings are sent out, each student’s primary faculty advisor will be noted so you will know which professor to contact if you want to reach out to them about your thoughts or questions about the class, its goals, or about your assigned student. You can either email Brook Kennedy (brook.kennedy@vt.edu) and Yoon Jung Choi (yjchoi@vt.edu) or start a discussion on the VTID Alumni Slack.

Can I chat with other mentors?

Yes! The easiest way to speak to other mentors is through the VTID Alumni Slack channel, #thesis-mentorship-program. Feel free to chat about how your meetings are going, trends you’re seeing, general thoughts you have about thesis, etc.

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