Mentor Group


  • A new year, some new students in the program. We welcomed eight of our previous crew of students back this year and we are pleased to welcome our new participants.  We hope that they will all have a productive year and that their people skills and teamwork will continue to develop through the program.
  • With EXPO 2024 only a month away, we are hurrying in a planned manner to have as much of the physical environment of “Techtopia” (the mentor Program layout) complete to ensure that we have an operational layout to exhibit during EXPO 24.
  • Work on the electrics progresses so that we have an operating layout, although the electrification of the turnouts, and the synchronization of the street and stadium lighting with the day/night sequence will have to wait until after Expo.
  • The “fiddleyard” at the rear of the layout, where students marshal trains and send them to and from the two scenic modules was checked out thoroughly at last week’s session. All points except one are working properly, but a replacement left-hand point is needed at the right-hand end of the yard (as viewed from the front), Ten (10) short joiner sections will be cut to size and installed across module joints, and wiring up of existing electrical droppers and then soldering hem to the BUS wires will occur. The two students working on this program were with us last year and so have already acquired skills in soldering the wires.
  • We aim to have the physical aspects of the layout ready for training sessions in operations before EXPO commences. Completion of the two scenic modules and further electronic projects will have to wait until after EXPO.
  • We look forward to our student group being able to operate trains on the layout and to explain to viewing members of the public what they are doing in the Mentor Program and how the Program is assisting them in developing a multitude of useful life skills.


With one week left of Term 2 of the school year, progress for the group is quite tangible. Students are working in small teams, each with a Mentor, and most with specific tasks.

One team with Fred and Toby has straightened track, adjusted points, and wired track to the Bus.

Another team has worked with Volker on completing the Magnorail highway which is positioned high above the rail tracks and lower buildings.

Arlo and Harry have worked with Ron to rebuild a “camouflage” building to hide the motors driving the Magnorail tracks and have added signage, graffiti on building sides (waterslide decals)Next is preparation of the surface forthe narrow workers’ rail platform.

Both Olivers and Alex have been working with Graeme using AnyRail to plot the rail tracks in the two Techtopia modules to assist in designing the DCC control system for those modules and have been learning to use a useful piece of software at the same time.

Bob’s team of Isabel and Archie has demonstrated their “green credentials” through construction of tree armatures from wire and caulk and then completing them with appropriate foliage. They should look good around the Techtopia townscape.

We are moving towards the goal of replacing Iron Rock Pass (3 modules) with a functioning Techtopia (2 modules) probably by the beginning of next school term, joining the new layout to the fiddleyard tracks.

It should then be possible to undertake testing of track power and the point and signaling systems, followed by the part that the students are looking forward to – learning to run trains on the tracks!

The Aims of the Mentor Program

When the program was initiated in 2011 the aims behind it were to:

  • Provide students in the program with the opportunity to relate well to older people with real-life experience.
  • Build student self-confidence and self-reliance.
  • Develop student teamwork and team achievement in a structured program.
  • Develop skills in the use of tools and techniques that they may not otherwise experience, using model railways as a means of achieving this.
  • Introduce students to applications of computing and electronic technologies and to build both experience and confidence in their use.
  • Encourage, in those students interested, an involvement in model railways as a life-long hobby and recreation.
  • Provide an opportunity for the team to showcase and publicise their achievements at one or more Model Railway exhibitions or Expos during the time of their involvement in the program.

This page was last updated on 1 Mar 2024