Technical advisors are dedicated men and women who support student teams as they develop Internet Science and Technology Fair (ISTF) projects. These professionals act as both mentors and advisors while helping students perform scientific research on the Internet.

Because students have not worked with professional scientists and technology experts either in person or using the Internet, there is usually a period early in the competition when communication between technical advisors and teams is sporadic. Teams are working to refine their projects and this involves a great deal of research and team interaction. What many student teams do not realize is that this is a crucial period in which their technical advisor can help them hone in on a realistic project that is technically feasible and that can be completed within the allotted timeframe of the ISTF. 

In the past we have advised teachers that students should not overburden their technical advisors with too many e-mails. However, some technical advisors indicate in their evaluations that they would prefer that the teams communicate more frequently at the beginning of the ISTF project to avoid problems later. And some technical advisors further maintained that continuing communication and periodic updates would have made a significant difference in the outcome of their teams' projects. 

Usually, half of the teams enrolled in the ISTF competition have a dedicated technical advisor. Student teams that are unable to find a technical professional have often made significant efforts to do so.  Some have reported in their evaluations that they feel as though persons they contact  are just not interested. This is very discouraging to these teams.

Although students can complete without a mentor, we do not encourage this and will continue our efforts to enlist the aid of professionals.  This interaction is both central and essential to the success of the ISTF experience. It is through continuing communication of all team members that students begin to understand the importance of scientists, engineers and medical technologists and the impact of their work on real-world problems. This linking of students with professionals is also an unparalleled opportunity for students to learn more about the many fields of science and engineering and related career opportunities.