Engaging with Your TA

Effective engagement with your TA may prove to be a key contributor to the success of your project. In this section, we’ll review some strategies and guiding questions that will help mentors tailor their interactions with TAs to their wants and needs.

TA Panel Q&A

Recording from July 5, 2022 - Summer Mentor Meeting Series

Timeline

TA Engagement Timeline
Figure 1. TA Engagement Timeline

Summer

TA Introduction

Introductions between TAs and mentors will begin mid June and continue throughout the summer.

The Data Mine staff will extend an initial introduction via email, and it is recommended to schedule a virtual meeting with your TA as early as possible. This first meeting is a great time to introduce yourself, your company, and your project(s) with The Data Mine.

Setting Expectations

  • What specific responsibilities do you want your TA to focus on for your project? (i.e. Scrum Master, Project Manager, Technical Lead)

  • How often do you want check ins or updates from your TA?

  • What from your company can you train your TA on so they can pass their learnings to the team? (i.e Company Culture, Technical Skills, Internal documentation)

  • How can your TA create a bridge from the student team to CP mentors?

Summer Planning

It is encouraged that mentors and TAs use the summer months to prepare for the academic year. As soon as the fall semester starts, students are eager for their projects and to begin exploring.

During the summer months, mentors and TAs should consider planning all components of the project charter:

  • Semester and Project Goals

  • Schedule and Checkpoints

  • Team Composition and Roles

  • Preparatory Readings and Exercises

  • Tools and Software

  • Data Sharing and Access

  • Scrum and Agile Trainings

Fall

Scrum and Agile

Once the academic year starts, the roles of mentors and TAs shift away from planning and towards implementing and project development. Specifically, teams will function as scrum teams with mentors playing the role of product owners and TAs as scrum master.

Corporate partner mentors take on the role of product owner because of their direct connection to the business. They are the leader of a project and will be the decision maker for project scope and direction.

TAs perform the work of a scrum master and are the bridge between CP mentors and Purdue students. They establish agile management and teach scrum to the team. TAs also help CP mentors with project management.

Also, mentors and TAs will work together to define a consistent sprint schedule. The sprint will consist of three sprint ceremonies: sprint planning, sprint review, and sprint retrospective. Sample Schedules may look like this:

Mentor Meetings on Monday, Lab on Friday

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Mentor Meeting: Sprint Planning

Lab: Open Development Time

Mentor Meeting: Sprint Review

Lab: Sprint Retrospective and Open Development Time

Mentor Meetings on Tuesday, Lab on Tuesday

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Mentor Meeting: Sprint Planning

Lab: Open Development Time

Mentor Meeting: Sprint Review

Lab: Sprint Retrospective and Open Development Time

Mentor Meetings on Fridays, Lab on Mondays

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Lab: Open Development Time

Mentor Meeting: Sprint Planning

Lab: Sprint Retrospective and Open Development Time

Mentor Meeting: Sprint Review

Mentor Meetings on Thursdays, Lab on Tuesdays

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Lab: Open Development Time

Mentor Meeting: Sprint Planning

Lab: Sprint Retrospective and Open Development Time

Mentor Meeting: Sprint Review

Evaluations and Feedback

The Data Mine asks that mentors and TAs jointly conduct performance reviews of their teams twice a semester (every eight weeks). These reviews are the best times to provide individual and personalized feedback to each student on your team.

Mentors and TAs should work together on these reviews. It is likely TAs will have spent more time with the team, but mentors will have an idea of if expectations are met or not. Mentors should provide their expectations to TAs, and TAs will help evaluate team members based on their personalized experiences with the team.

These evaluations are also a great time for mentors to provide constructive feedback for their TA.

Co-Piloting

The ultimate goal of a mentor and TA relationship should be, what we are calling, Co-Piloting. By November, the student team, mentor, and TA will ideally be comfortable with the project, agile, and The Data Mine course. TAs and Mentors will then Co-Pilot the project where project management should feel consistent and scheduled.

Spring

Symposium

The fall and spring semesters are largely the same other than the addition of The Data Mine Corporate Partners Symposium at the conclusion of the spring semester. Mentors and TAs will work together to guide the team towards a thorough presentation of their work from the academic calendar year.

Some notes to consider for the symposium:

  • Company branded presentations and legal requirements

  • Guest attendance from the company

  • Student involvement and presentation roles

  • More symposium details from AY 2021-22