#IAmNYAS: Ron Fritz
A Q&A with Junior Academy mentor Ron Fritz
What are your students working on?
Food Loss and Waste: Transportation and Logistics. Specifically, they came up with an ingenious use of evaporative cooling; designing, building, and testing a non-electric 'fridge' (based on 'zeer pot' technology) made of recycled materials.
What surprised you about your students?
I knew they would be smart and clever, but what surprised me was their incredible focus and tenacity in going after solutions to design problems encountered. They didn't back off or quit when a challenge emerged but rather relished the opportunity to overcome it.
What surprised you about your mentoring experience?
The student's 'relentless' engagement made it great fun for me (and I think for the team as a whole.) There's nothing better than being part of a team working like failure is not an option. It was exhilarating because of the awesome work ethic the students employed and the leadership that evolved among them. To be honest, just prior to the kick off of the challenge I was considering dropping out due to increased business demands on my schedule. I am so glad I didn't. Even though those demands did not diminish, these kids’ efforts were inspiring and kept me going.
What kind of growth did you see in your students?
With some of the students it was leadership, in others "followership" – with all it was 'hey, we've got a great team, great ideas and great talents that can make a difference!' That attitude energized everyone, including myself. Perhaps the correct word is 'devoted' to finishing the team's mission. I think the type of camaraderie experienced was a first for some of the students. Also, the level of talent brought together. As a youth sports coach over the years, this was like realizing you have something really special going on with a particular collection of kids.
Anything else you'd like to share?
Yes. I think the key thing here is that these kids are in a class by themselves. World class. Not just smart, but motivated, eager, and most important invested. This makes mentoring in this venue a unique experience, truly providing an opportunity to accomplish something of significance with 'no holds barred', ‘blue sky' thinkers.