From VEX to SCTCC

Katarina Frank
October 16, 2020

Overcoming obstacles is Katarina Frank’s thing. She likes putting things together, making sure they work, and then seeing the end results.

It’s no surprise, then, that she’s in the SCTCC Energy & Electronic program working on three – yes, three – degrees: Robotics Automation, Mechatronics, and Instrumentation Process Control.

And how she got there? Well that made sense, too, and the end results are in sight.

While Katarina was in high school, she was a part of the VEX Robotics program. VEX is a team-based program where students can learn about several STEM areas while competing with robots they construct themselves. It also builds skills surrounding teamwork, leadership, and problem solving in group settings.

While she was competing in VEX, she ended up meeting Aaron Barker, the instructor of the Energy & Electronic program at SCTCC and the lead for VEX Minnesota. Hearing about the opportunities at SCTCC sparked her interest, and she decided to look into how to get ready for a career in Robotics.

VEX definitely helped her decide what she wanted to do, and because of that, she was able to take specific classes in high school that helped her prepare for college. She visited SCTCC for a campus tour and information session, and she was sold.

“I knew that this was where I wanted to go to school,” said Katarina.

Now that she’s in her second year, she’s even more convinced that SCTCC was the right choice.

“I really like how hands-on it is. My classmates are pretty cool, and everyone is willing to help each other out,” she said. “I really like it here. People are super, super friendly.”

She’s on her way to completing three degrees, even with disruption from COVID-19. Katarina ended up losing her job, but she wasn’t going to let COVID get in her way. She got help from an SCTCC scholarship so she could continue on her education.

“Getting a scholarship has really helped me. I had to give up my job due to COVID, so having the scholarship has definitely helped pay for some of my schooling,” she explained.

After Katarina graduates, she’ll start looking for a Robotics job in the manufacturing industry. It’s likely that she’ll be hired for a job even before she graduates; SCTCC Energy & Electronic graduates are a highly sought-out in the industry, and with retirements looming, the need is high.

“This is a great time to be looking for a job in the robotics or other electronics-related industry,” said Aaron Barker, instructor at SCTCC. “Most of our students get at least two degrees, which really helps when they’re starting the job search.”

This year, Katarina’s classes are a mix of online and in-person; she’s excited about her classes this year because “they’re a lot more fun, being very much hands on.” Thanks to the SCTCC scholarship, she’s able to focus on finishing her degrees and get started in a career that she’s been working toward since VEX in high school.

VEX Student Video

Length: 1:29

Kate Wallace
Posted in News, Foundation