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The Value of Mentors in Inspection and Materials Engineering

By Greg Alvarado at Inspectioneering Journal. February 25, 2013

As a chemist and an inspection and materials specialist, I was truly blessed to have so many wonderful mentors early in my career. Some I picked; some were picked for me, intentionally. As a chemist, I will never forget Angelo Vangel and Dick Craig. For inspection and materials, I will never forget Otto Fenner, Tim Fowler, Joe Jeter, Wes Andrews, Ted Hoerr, John Reynolds, and a few others. These mentors regularly shared their experience, knowledge (which is much more than data), and expertise with me. At that time they all had more than 20-30 years of applying their growing knowledge, and imparted it upon me daily. It was clear that they believed in me or else they would not have taken the time to do this, for which I am forever grateful. So my advice is this: value your mentors and let them know you appreciate their time. Be grateful! Mentoring imparts comprehension of your own knowledge and to data. Plus, you are receiving the value of cumulative understanding, as they likely had mentors, and their mentors had mentors, and so forth.

Hopefully one day you are blessed with an opportunity to mentor someone in your field. I know we are all busy and at times overwhelmed, but just remember that if someone approaches you for help, advice, guidance, etc., it is an honor! We all need a little help in this world. For those of you who claim to not have any time or desire to do this, I encourage you to stop and think about the impact this could have on a young individual’s life and the value this could bring to the industry as a whole. I can tell you firsthand that I would not be the man I am today without the guidance of those individuals named above.

As I said earlier, some of my mentors were picked for me, intentionally. In today's world many companies have done away with mentoring programs. They have gotten too busy, too impatient, and no longer appreciate the long term value. They hope that certifications and diplomas will be enough. I can tell you they are not! What this means is that we have managers, inspectors, engineers, technicians and others charged with assuring the integrity of our equipment that lack a complete, time-tested understanding. For those of you who were not assigned mentors, I want to encourage you to go out and find a good mentor for the various areas of your life. Find someone you respect and admire; someone that exhibits true success in the areas you wish to pursue; someone from whom you could accept advice and criticism. It is worth more than its weight in gold, which I think was at $1,579.00 an ounce this morning.

"Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn." -Benjamin Franklin


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