How student organizations helped shape a Cyclone’s engineering career

How student organizations helped shape a Cyclone’s engineering career

By Mallory Tope, Student Innovation Center Content Writer

Karter Krueger, former ISU Robotics Club president, wanted to innovate the way the club operated and give students hands-on learning experience. Contributed photo

Iowa State University fosters students from across the globe who all have a passion and determination to make a difference and take on new challenges. Students are invited, inspired and encouraged to Innovate at Iowa State, and every day students are seen rising up and exceeding expectations.

Karter Krueger, a recent Iowa State graduate, said he owes his desire and passion for innovation to two key things: his love of robotics and his involvement in Iowa State student organizations. 

Krueger’s interest in robotics started in high school when he joined the FIRST Tech Challenge which gives students the opportunity to compete in engineering and coding disciplines. Upon entering Iowa State, Krueger continued his pursuit of robotics by joining Iowa State’s Cardinal Space Mining Club and Robotics Club.

In Cardinal Space Mining, Krueger worked on a computer vision system that detected and guided the robot to a designated location. Krueger spent his time in the Robotics Club working with the autonomous snowplow, which uses a LIDAR sensor to observe the surroundings and map the robot’s direction. 

Krueger, who has a passion for building and changing ways of thinking, later presided as president of the Robotics Club. He dedicated himself to improving the learning experience of robotics for student members. 

Before Krueger became president, the club’s meetings would last for about 10 minutes. Krueger wanted to change the learning dynamic of the club to give students more opportunities to learn and gain hands-on experience. 

“I wanted to make meetings more of a learning opportunity for members in the club who might not have as much robotics experience,” Krueger said. “That’s why I started doing various presentations myself as well as having guest speakers come in from research and industry.”

Karter’s honors capstone project. This robot uses a depth camera to detect, track and predict the trajectory of a tossed tennis ball in order to catch it. Contributed photo

One of the guest speakers was a robotics engineer from John Deere. They spoke about the work they were doing with their autonomy teams and how they were using computer vision on some robotic systems and machinery, Krueger added. 

Krueger also gave lectures on various topics he felt would provide students with advanced technical knowledge. One of his lectures delved into robot operating systems, which are used in the robotics industry for programming the control mechanisms for robots.

Krueger used the technical skills and knowledge he learned during his time in the Robotics and Cardinal Space Mining Club to complete his honors project. He designed and developed a robot that can travel to a location, identify an incoming projectile and catch it.

When the Student Innovation Center opened in August 2020, both the Cardinal Space Mining Club and the Robotics Club made the center home, and began meeting within the center and utilizing its resources. 

Krueger reflected on his time in the Robotics Club, saying, “It was a good opportunity to have hands-on experience and to strengthen my own presentation skills. I also definitely learned a lot from the professors and industry guest lectures.” 

Krueger graduated in Spring 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in software engineering. He will be pursuing a master’s in robotic engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.