Technical Advisors

The practicing professionals who participated as technical advisors provided varied input regarding their experience. This input included a fair amount of constructive criticism. The feedback of these engineers, scientists, medical technologists and academic researchers alike will help to make needed improvements to the ISTF Program.

Approximately thirty-six technical advisors who participated in the 2003-2004 ISTF responded to the Final Process Evaluation questions concerning the preparation for, work on, and completion of their project participation. Below is a bulleted summary of the information these technical advisors provided. The primary purpose of this report is to aid technical advisors in planning, managing, and finishing participation in an ISTF competition. The secondary goal is to present the same information for students, teachers, parents, administrators, and any other interested parties.

* You can also read what the technical advisors thought "In Their Own Words."

Preparing for the ISTF Project

Here are some interesting facts about how technical advisors (who responded to the evaluation) got started:

  • About 87% indicated it was the first time they participated in the ISTF, while 13.3% had participated before.
  • 33% were contacted by students in their local community, 17% were contacted by students via the Internet and 13% were requested by their professional association to participate.
  • Three-quarters reviewed the ISTF Technical Advisor Guide. Three-quarters of those who did review the guide found it to be very useful or adequate. 75% of the technical advisors felt they were adequately prepared to participate.
  • 73% reviewed the "Role of the Technical Advisor" at the ISTF website. 43% reviewed the content guidelines and 33% visited the "Hall of Fame."
  • 63% maintained initial contact with student teams via e-mail.
  • 43% felt the students understood their problem and technical solution. 37% felt the team had to narrow their project focus.

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Working on the ISTF Project

Participating technical advisors (who responded) listed their key areas of concern regarding the students' ability to develop appropriate content. Mainly, some students did not:

  • Share what they were doing on an ongoing basis
  • Understand information technical advisors supplied
  • Narrow the project focus
  • Maintain seriousness about their work
  • Use the Internet information sources the technical advisors sent
  • Ask opinions on information that they found on the Internet

Technical advisors (who responded) commented on their communication with the students and teachers:

  • Communication between technical advisors and students fell into various categories:
    • 87% spent time sending students information on websites they could use. 
    • 63% asked students questions to help them better understand the technology they were researching. 
    • 46% asked students to revise their project focus, and an equal percentage explained to students the type of questions they should be asking.
  • 40% said students learned valuable lessons about communicating via e-mail. 
  • 30% felt that communication was too limited by using only e-mail.
  • 36.7% felt that communication with the student team's teacher would have been beneficial.
  • 50% would like to receive updates on the student projects at least once per week with 33% want one every two weeks.

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Completing the ISTF Project

Forty percent of the technical advisors who responded said they were able to view the teamsí websites while they were a work in progress, but over half did not see their student teamís final project website until its completion. Still, many technical advisors  (who responded) felt their teams benefited and expressed willingness to participate again:

  • 56.7% said their teams listened to suggestions about resolving errors and changing information concerning their website and: 
    • 30% listened to some suggestions.
    • 13.3% did not respond to suggestions.
  • 63% felt their student teams incorporated the proper amount of technical information into their project, while 30% felt they did not.
  • 73% felt they had helped their team to better understand the necessary steps that must be taken to find technological solutions to problems they will face in the future.
  • 73% indicated they would again participate in the ISTF.

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* You can also read what the technical advisors thought "In Their Own Words."