It is easy to find Team 341’s mentor, Ms. Dina Campagna. If she isn’t in the pits helping fix the robot, then she is in the stands cheering like crazy. To find her, just listen for the loudest voice and match it with the reddest hair. Her fun-loving personality boosts team morale, and her expertise in technological matters has been critical to our team’s success. FIRST Senior Mentor, Rich Kressly, says that Ms. Campagna "not only sets a shining example for the student members of FRC 341, but also for other teams, mentors, and FIRST volunteers in all of our programs.”
Ms. Campagna is a dedicated mentor who takes personally our team goal of building people. In the shop, Ms. Campagna teaches students how to use the machines and suggests design improvements. In the media lab, she guides students through the complexities of computers and cameras. She always takes the time to sit down with students and talk through problems –and solutions. Team 341 mentor, Ken Dixon, says “she has a way of encouraging students to push-out a little bit more with a ‘can-do’ spirit.” Despite her demanding teaching schedule, she is present 20 hours a week or more throughout build season. During the off-season, she works hard to prepare the team for our off-season events and still takes the time to help the new team members settle in.
This summer, her efforts to help our team develop a lasting relationship with a VEX team in Singapore paid off. Ms. Campagna and several other coaches and students traveled to Singapore with our robot in August to visit our sister-schools there. It was an unparalleled opportunity for members of Team 341 to explore Singaporean culture and to spread the ideas of FIRST to the students, professors, and community members with whom the team met.
Ms. Campagna knows that without a good communication system, even the most talented teams will fall apart. She created journals for the team to record daily progress in order to improve the coordination of our team, and she encourages us to post what is done on our team’s online forum. For demonstrations, she helps us create multimedia presentations that effectively convey team aspects, from how our robot is engineered to our community activities. She also urges parents to get them more involved in the team’s activities. She encourages them to volunteer at events like Ramp Riot and takes time to show them what exactly we do.
As a woman engineer, Ms. Campagna knows how helpful it is for girls to have role models to inspire them to pursue their interest in science and technology. Not only does she support the girls on Team 341, but she also mentors other young women in the community. Last year, as a result of a partnership between Miss Daisy and the Girl Scouts of America, she coached all-girls LEGO League team at our middle school, which went on to win the Dare Mighty Things Award at the Philadelphia FLL Tournament. She has also participated in events such as DeVry University’s HerWorld, which was a day for girls to become interested in science and technology.
Ms. Campagna works closely with mentors from other teams, such as Team 357, which has repeatedly asked her to serve as the Head Judge at their Lego League Tournament. “As a team mentor, event volunteer, FLL judge advisor, FVC coach, FIRST ambassador abroad, and friend, her boundless energy encourages all of us to stretch ourselves to become better people,” says Rich Kressly. Her natural inclination for helping other teams makes her a role model for gracious professionalism. Because of all the hard work and dedication that Ms. Campagna puts into our team, she truly is a mentor that all teams could use.