Mentoring students for success in the classroom and beyond

Jan 30, 2019
Mentoring students for success in the classroom and beyond
Dr. Bradford Towle, an assistant professor of computer science at Florida Polytechnic University, approaches his classes with a mentoring style, providing guidance and advice to help them through the University’s rigorous STEM curriculum and as they prepare to work in industry.

Dr. Bradford Towle’s office door in Florida Polytechnic University’s Innovation, Science, and Technology Building is always open. Students stop by often, many times outside his office hours. He’s there.

“I like being available to them,” said Towle, who is an assistant professor of computer science. “They come with questions, concerns, asking for advice, and I’m always there as a sounding board.”

More than a professor, Towle considers himself a mentor. His students seek his help creating their resumes, portfolios, and design documents to show companies what they are capable of. They also come to him asking about his time in industry and seeking advice about how to find the best job opportunity.

“I have experience in the field and they want to know about that. Many students are curious about how things are once you get out there,” said Towle, who teaches game design, introduction to computer programming and autonomous robotic systems at a graduate level, among other classes.

“I guide students through the job application process,” he added. “A lot of times companies send them their packet for an interview and it can be very scary. I walk them through it and help them, so they don’t feel overwhelmed”.

As students sometimes feel overwhelmed by Florida Poly’s rigorous STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) curriculum, Towle is there to keep them with their eyes on the prize.

“I’ve told many students that if you don’t quit, as time goes to infinity you will succeed. It will happen. Just stay at it,” said Towle, who worked for three years at Bally Technologies in Reno, Nevada, as a quality assurance engineer. He also taught computer science at Landmark College, which focuses on students with learning disabilities, and at Keene State College before coming to Florida Poly.

Towle’s accessibility to students and teaching approach found a perfect home in Florida Poly. With its small student body and 18 to one student-faculty ratio, Florida Poly is where teaching becomes mentoring. It’s a connection that Towle considers key to student success.

“For most students, that mentoring relationship is absolutely crucial. Usually it takes one professor they just click with and that’s the person who helps them through their journey here,” said Towle, highlighting that mentorship is common ground for the faculty at Florida Poly.

“Being small creates that local community feel. It gives you a real opportunity to get to know your students,” he said.

Lydia Guzman
Assistant Director of Communications