U Of M Crookston Sophomore Josh Kauck: Connecting Academics And Opportunities To Build For The Future

Christine Bakke, lecturer in Math, Science, & Technology Department is an advisor and mentor to sophomore Josh Kauck

Unsure about his plans after high school, Josh Kauck considered going right into the workforce. Then, an offer for a scholarship to play Golden Eagle Football made him reconsider.

Playing football took him to the University of Minnesota Crookston where he plays defensive line for the Golden Eagles. A chance to help with a robotics camp over the summer may have changed the direction of his future altogether. This semester, Kauck who developed his own curriculum materials, is teaching public school teachers how to teach their students to program robots using EV3, a third generation robotics kit in Lego’s Mindstorms line.

“In summer 2017, I ran a three-day robotics camp for kids on campus, and it has served as a stepping stone to opportunities like the one I just finished in Blackduck, Minn., teaching teachers robotics,” he says. “I happened to be in Christine Bakke’s office when her phone rang and someone wanted help with their school’s robotics program, and there I was,” he smiles. “It’s been a great opportunity for me.”

Bakke, Kauck’s advisor and mentor, is enthusiastic about her protégés work with both kids and teachers. “Josh doesn’t really need me there at all,” she explains. “He has worked out his own materials based on the needs of the teachers, and he runs with it.” Bakke has been integral in the formation and development of the curriculum and opening opportunities for Kauck, but the teaching is all him.

The sophomore from Coon Rapids, Minn., began working in his family’s flower shop when he was 14 years old. The experience taught him the value of hard work and what it means to work together. “Football also reinforced the hard work ethic and keeps me focused,” he says. “These are lessons I carry with me into academics and into my personal life.”

The teachers in Blackduck had some knowledge of robotics, but Kauck helped them get the hands-on experience they needed and further their understanding. By developing their lessons and

Josh Kauck, standing, helps teachers with their robotics programming at the Blackduck Public School.

helping them work through the packet of materials, Kauck was able to help them trouble shoot and answer their questions. He based his lessons on what they needed for their students. The result is a standalone packet students can work through on their own with the guidance of their teachers.

In Blackduck, they have been and will continue to use what they learned to prepare their robotics team to compete as part of FIRST LEGO League, where students must design, build, and program a robot and compete on a table-top playing field.

Kauck enjoyed programming when he was in high school, which, in turn, influenced his choice of software engineering as a possible major, and later, he added a second major in information technology management. His ambition doesn’t stop there, however. His grandfather, an attorney, has helped Kauck set up his own limited liability company, and he is working on a webpage for the business that includes his abilities as a consultant, website designer, and robotics instructor.

“It seems funny now, but I couldn’t have imagined where education would take me,” he reflects. “I think the size of this campus and the opportunity here helped me focus on what I really want to do.”