Q&A: What Does Mentoring Mean to You?

Noblis Analyst Steven Hotaling shares how mentoring has impacted his career

Steven Hotaling’s “spark of scientific curiosity” was ignited by his father and a group of General Electric engineers who took time to mentor him when he was just 12 years old. Years later, Steven received a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, and has supported the Pentagon’s Special Program’s Offices, the Intelligence Community, the White House, and the U.S. Congress. Now, he’s an analyst at Noblis NSP, and pays it forward by judging science fairs and tutoring students in advanced physics. Check out what mentoring means to Steven in the below Q&A.     

Q:        How did mentorship influence your career?

A:        I always wanted to be a scientist, that was never a question for me. My father ignited the spark of scientific curiosity, supported my early education, and taught me never to let other people put you down or intimidate you. When I was 12, my father connected me with four mentors from The General Electric Company. These mentors challenged me and pushed me to think out of my box, to do experiments and learn valuable lessons… especially from my failures.

I graduated from Syracuse with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering, and then worked on quantum noise measurements and theory for Ring Laser Gyro control systems. Later, I got my Ph.D. and went to work for the Pentagon’s Special Programs Offices, the Intelligence Community, the White House, and the US Congress (HPSCI, SSCI, and SASC).     

Q:        Has your career diverted from what you expected?

A:        Yes and no. Although I always thought that I would be a scientist, I envisioned that I would be in a lab somewhere. I did not expect that I would ever consult for the highest levels of the Pentagon – doing classified experiments in the field that only a few people knew about, briefing the White House, or testifying before congressional committees. 

Q:        How did you seek mentorship throughout your career?

A:        Dr. George Abrahamson, CEO of SRI and former Chief Scientist of the USAF, was an important mentor for me. I asked him to become my mentor and he to my surprise, he agreed.  He challenged me to think about how science and technology impacts the nation, and what political and economic forces at play makes things happen. I always left his office with books and homework.

Dr. Pete Rustan, Director of AS&T and MSD at NRO, was also an important mentor for me. Pete taught me to be bold and get the work done-- quickly. 

Q:        How have you mentored in the workplace? Why is it important?

A:        Workplace mentoring has helped me discern how I can help others best serve the goals of an organization. I’ve mentored junior government employees and Ph.D. technical fellows at the NRO, and an operator who began consulting for the ODNI. Beyond that though, I’ll mentor people who show up to my door with questions, and will contribute to ideas from colleagues when I have a helpful hint. I am indebted to mentors, so I mentor others to repay those that helped me create my future.

Q:        How have you mentored in your community? Why is it important?

A:        Community mentoring helps me to think about lessons that will help a student give back. During undergrad, my wife and I spent time with the Jesuits, who taught to help others and humanity grow closer to its truest potential.            

I’ve helped mentor high school students, and teach a young student advanced mathematics and physics. I’ve also served as a judge for high school science fairs, and the International Science and Engineering Competition, as well as serving as an adjunct physics professor at a university.

Q:       What advice would you give someone who was considering mentoring?

A:        Do it.  But remember what the Jesuits taught me:  It is not for you, it is to help a student evolve and contribute to a better future for humanity.

Site Map


Noblis, Inc. 2002 Edmund Halley Dr, Reston, VA 20191 703.610.2000 Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Copyright 2012 Noblis, Inc. All rights reserved.