Outstanding Undergraduate for Service Morgan Kauss
Morgan Kauss is a mechanical engineering student being awarded an Outstanding Undergraduate for Service Award from the Paul M. Rady Department of Mechanical Engineering. Learn more about her and her accomplishments in the Q&A below.
Share about your background and what led you to study engineering?
I come from a very STEM-focused family and was placed in an accelerated math program at a young age. I was encouraged to study engineering as the degree oﬀers endless opportunities, and I was still ﬁguring out what I wanted to do.
Originally, I was much more focused on pursuing a pre-medical route than engineering and started college fulﬁlling both my engineering curriculum and pre-medical requirements. I always wanted to help people, so I began working as a caregiver for a woman in the community. It wasn’t until this experience that I learned the impact that I could make in the medical ﬁeld with technological innovation and medical devices. This realization led me to become passionate about engineering.
What does the award you are receiving mean to you?
To me, this award is recognition not just for my eﬀorts, but for the greater purpose that I have been working toward throughout my college career. I am extremely passionate about my mission to improve the lives of those suﬀering from medical conditions through the combination of engineering and empathy.
Have you received any other awards/honors?
I was one of the 2020 Student Leaders of the Year and received the Active Learning Award this year.
Morgan Kauss at the summit of her first Colorado 14er.
Share an accomplishment from your time at CU Boulder that you are proud of.
I am most proud of creating Engineers in Medicine at CU Boulder. This student organization truly encompasses my mission and provided me with a platform to positively impact the lives of others. Through this club, I was able to gather a diverse group of students who wanted to make a diﬀerence in the medical ﬁeld and expand our perspectives through guest speakers, volunteer work and projects. The club provided me with the backing to start the Exo-Seat that was my senior design project and will be delivered to help a woman in the community.
More than anything, I am proud that this club will continue its impact at CU Boulder past my graduation with an amazing group of students leading a new project. Engineers in Medicine is now helping pediatric patients at Children's Hospital Colorado in partnership with EcosySTEM ARTS.
How have you gotten involved throughout your college career?
I’ve been lucky to be involved in a number of organizations and other opportunities throughout my four years. I was a part of the Global Engineering RAP and joined the Engineering Leadership Program my freshman year. The summer after my freshman year, I was a marketing intern at Arlington International Racecourse.
Sophomore year, I started my own student organization called Engineers in Medicine and worked as a mentor in the College of Engineering and Applied Science. I also was in the YOU’RE@CU research program which provided me with initial research experience and led me to begin working under a postdoc in Professor Corey Neu’s Soft Tissue Bioengineering Lab as an independent study. That summer, I continued my research and began work as a caregiver for a woman in the community.
Junior year, I worked as the lead teaching assistant for freshman projects and started the Exo-Seat through my club in eﬀort to improve quality of life for the woman in the community that I was a caregiver for. My electrical engineering partner and I were able to put together a team, get the project through an initial design review and compete in the New Venture Challenge. We then found a pro bono sponsor and got it adopted as our senior design project for the following year. That summer, I worked as an engineering intern at a startup medical device company called Sana Health.
Senior year, I continued my internship and worked on the Exo-Seat through senior design. Engineers in Medicine also partnered with EcosySTEM ARTS, a local nonproﬁt. Through this partnership, we began creating educational carts for pediatric patients at Children’s Hospital Colorado.
In addition to this, I got involved in the great Colorado outdoors. I hiked all of the Boulder peaks and a number of fourteeners, along with many morning hikes at Chautauqua and walks along Boulder Creek. I began climbing at The Spot Bouldering Gym, Boulder Canyon and the ﬂatirons and ran a lot, completing 5ks, a 10k and training for a half marathon that was canceled due to the pandemic.
If you could relive any moment from your college career, what would it be?
I would relive hiking my ﬁrst fourteener, Mt. Sherman, at the start of my freshman year. A group of friends took me with them up a less-traveled route. I remember running on the top of the mountain getting so excited that I reached the summit until my friend would yell behind me that it was a false peak, so I’d run to the next one. Reaching the summit was one of the most beautiful and amazing experiences of my life. It led to my love of the mountains that became a huge part of my college career and life moving forward.
What do you plan to pursue post-graduation?
Post-graduation, I hope to relocate to California and secure a job in the medical device ﬁeld. I am particularly interested in positions where I would be able to represent a device and work closely with patients and physicians. I am also currently working with a couple other students on a startup and will continue to pursue new implementations of our technology.
What is the impact you hope to have on the world?
I hope to dedicate my life to improving the quality of life of individuals with chronic and terminal medical conditions through integrating empathy for patients with the technological solutions of engineering.
Any closing remarks?
I would like to thank both my mother and Cindy Muir for inspiring me to pursue this mission and for providing me with the perspective needed to help others. I would also like to thank Angela Thieman Dino and Sonya Schuppan for supporting me through every crazy idea I have had that led to this. Finally, I want to thank my father for talking me into applying to CU Boulder in the ﬁrst place.