"These two peers would later become an advantageous support system for me personally, assisting as I struggled with the structural engineering portion of my internship project at the lab."
"These two peers became an advantageous support system for me personally and assisted me as I struggled with the structural engineering portion of my internship project at the lab."
I'm confused because "assisting" doesn't necessarily mean present-tense, yet, aside from "become" to "became", it's the only tense-shift in the sentence. I could say "She was assisting me yesterday" and that's still correct.
I also don't understand why adding "and" and "me" is necessary? The comma appends the descriptor of the clause. I also specified that "I" (me) was being helped earlier in the sentence.
Update: This sentence seeks to convey the simultaneity described in an adverbial participle clause; in helping me with the structural engineering portion of my project they simultaneously became a support system for me. Surrounding sentences describe how peers (organization members) provided support to one another in a myriad of ways. I'm trying to evince and contextualize an instance of collective support, on a more personal scale. "All of the peers in the lab supported one another. Peer 1 & 2 (I identify these two peers in a separate sentence preceding the one in subject) stood out to me the most. These two peers were special because they assisted me personally when my project hit an on-going roadblock (This is the sentence we're revising).
I tried to incorporate some of the other feedback offered in the comments and came up with this:
"These two peers later became a support system for me personally, assisting when I struggled with the structural engineering portion of my internship project at the lab."
I don't revisit this particular instance in the essay again, so I removed "would". I retained "later" because I think it helps to clarify the more personal modality of support in this sentence. Is it appropriate to use the comma and forego the "and", as illustrated in the above version? If this isn't appropriate, could I replace the comma with a "by"?