Scaling Up Engaging Volunteer Training

November 2, 2023

Quick Facts

  • Sidekick made it easy to structure and facilitate dynamic learning with consistency across different trainers at scale. 
  • Over 90% of volunteers felt confident, connected, and prepared after a series of five training events - positioning Engineers of Tomorrow for a successful year.
  • Participants benefited from a mix of games, pre-configured polls, videos, scenario-based discussions, and slides.
  • Sidekick’s engagement tools and data analytics allowed Engineers of Tomorrow’s facilitators to engage volunteers in learning and feel a sense of their presence, even with many participants’ cameras off.



Engineers of Tomorrow is a Canadian not-for-profit powered by hundreds of volunteers working to inspire the next generation of problem solvers. Their Engineer in Residence Program connects real engineers with teachers, to bring experiential learning into the classroom.  A core objective of the training is to ensure both volunteer engineers and teachers are prepared for collaborations to enhance the curriculum. This is achieved using hands-on projects, presentations, and other activities in the classroom that bring a real-life dimension to student learning.

Using Sidekick to create, structure, and deliver the training was key to enhancing the training experience. 

Engineers of Tomorrow

Engineering is the backbone of our modern lives, from the quality of our drinking water to the technology we hold in our hands. It plays an indispensable role in addressing current global challenges and those we’ll encounter in the future.

Engineers of Tomorrow is a national charitable organization on a mission to tell better stories about engineering, raise awareness about the engineering profession, and better inform the engineers of tomorrow.

Leveraging the latest research to inform their practices, their approach revolves around creating positive, hands-on engineering experiences that mold young minds and offer a firsthand look at the multifaceted world of engineering. 

The Engineers in Residence Program

The Engineers in Residence Program is a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) outreach initiative that connects teachers with local engineers for the duration of the school year. 

Every match made between an engineer and a teacher partner helps create a customized learning program. Working together, teachers and engineers aim to bring the STEM curriculum to life for school kids. 

A significant number of children lack exposure to adult role models in fields like engineering, with 74% of teachers noting that their students have never met an engineer. The Engineer in Residence Program steps in to bridge this crucial gap, ensuring that young minds have the chance to interact with and learn from engineering professionals.

Addressing Training Challenges

When Engineers of Tomorrow partnered with Sidekick, they set out to tackle four common challenges in volunteer training. 


Before adopting Sidekick, Engineers of Tomorrow training sessions were held on GoTo Meetings, and engagement was a real challenge. Facilitators regularly struggled to keep participants engaged and active, and sometimes interaction was sparse. The lack of tools for preparation, interaction, feedback, and sharing made the sessions tough for both trainers and learners. With Sidekick’s range of interactive features, keeping participants engaged is no longer a challenge.

Deep Learning

Deep learning and engagement go hand in hand with effective training. Without engaging experiences that motivate and actively involve learners, grasping new concepts is challenging. When diverse tools and strategies to engage with the material are introduced, the participants’ depth of understanding and recall improves dramatically.


When delivering hybrid live training, it’s not always possible to get feedback about how training is going for learners who are remote or in person. Sidekick’s different tools and features mean that facilitators are given a clearer picture of how the training is progressing. Real-time feedback is essential. Before Sidekick, this feedback loop was missing, making it challenging to gauge the learners’ comprehension.


Technical glitches are an all-too-familiar hiccup in training sessions. Facilitators often find that using different tools and apps to present the training can be challenging and cause disruptions in the flow of learning. But with Sidekick, they found a reliable and consistent tool that provided all the support they needed in one place.

By partnering with Sidekick to address these challenges, Engineers of Tomorrow transformed their training approach and enhanced the learning experience for both volunteers and students.

The Sidekick Solution

A Number of Firsts 

Engineers of Tomorrow was the first of our partners to validate using the original Sidekick as a companion app.

Engineers of Tomorrow was also the first of our partners to use the full new user interface in the fall national kick-off of the Engineers in Residence training. By serving up a range of multimedia active learning experiences through the Sidekick app - from games, videos, and participant spinners, to quizzes, polls, and embedded digital resources and documents to discuss in groups - they were able to create a memorable and engaging training experience.  

Fall Kick-Off Training Event

The fall kick-off event served as a valuable recap and reinforcement of earlier summer training sessions. After weeks away from their last training, many attendees entered with a summer learning gap, feeling 67% prepared. However, following the training using Sidekick, participant readiness surged to an impressive 90%! The event was a strategic move to bolster the messages conveyed during the summer training, ensuring that everyone was on the same page as they ventured into the fall season.

The event kicked off with a game and a pre-assessment poll. Following the poll, the training took a dynamic turn. The team seamlessly shared informative slides through Sidekick and presented a compelling video on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Keeping the momentum alive, they orchestrated a second engaging game, followed by breakout groups to discuss scenarios that commonly arise in practice. The Sidekick spinner was employed to select presenters to share each group’s takeaways, infusing an element of anticipation.

One of the standout features of the event was resource sharing. Engineers of Tomorrow harnessed the power of Sidekick to effortlessly distribute a total of 16 digital resources to all participants, consolidating these valuable assets in a single accessible location and distributing each at just the right moment in the training. This resource-sharing approach proved particularly beneficial, extending its reach to volunteers across the nation.

To further empower their volunteers, Engineers of Tomorrow seamlessly connected them with their Discord server and an online treasure trove of instructional resources. Their commitment to support included office hours, ensuring that participants had a reliable source of assistance and guidance.

The event went above and beyond with special guest speakers who added an extra layer of expertise and inspiration to the training. In just a two-hour national kick-off, they managed to share a wealth of knowledge with over 70 enthusiastic participants.

Engineers of Tomorrow’s dedication to effective training shines through in every facet of this event, demonstrating their commitment to empowering the engineers of tomorrow.


One of the distinct achievements of the event is the remarkable outcome it yielded. An impressive 90% of both teachers and engineers emerged from the program with newfound confidence in their ability to craft outstanding STEM experiences for students.

Engineers of Tomorrow’s approach also offered invaluable visibility into the attendee experience. Their proactive stance allowed them to closely monitor the training’s progression, even when participants chose to keep their cameras off. This was made possible through innovative tools like leaderboards and response metrics, which allowed them to gauge engagement levels with games and polls effectively. With these insights, they ensured that every participant remained actively involved in the learning journey.


Sidekick provides the tools, structures, and strategies that subject matter experts need to create inspiring, professional learning experiences. Sidekick combines best practices in adult learning, innovative engagement features, and data to support and retain volunteers.