ASU robotic engineering student juggles college leadership and fatherhood

Prolific student Joshua Kosar, leads many student organizations including a SpaceX competition team and a 3D printing start-up

Arms folded, Joshua Kosar watched as small children attempted to control a robot, one of many his robotics club, the Rossum Rumblers, has created.

But Kosar's club was not the reason for the robotic engineering major’s presence at the ASU Polytechnic campus’s Night of the Open Door event Friday, Feb. 17. In addition to being the president of the Rossum Rumblers, Kosar said he has started his own business creating 3D printer parts out of recycled materials and is co-leading Arizona’s hyperloop competition team, AZLoop.

“We’re bringing a hyperloop to Arizona,” Kosar said. “One way or another, we are going to make it happen.”

Read more: AZLoop shoots for the moon in SpaceX's Hyperloop competition

Hyperloops, first proposed by Elon Musk of SpaceX, are a theoretical mode of transportation that could usurp airplanes as the fasted mode of travel, Kosar said. He said they are similar to maglev trains inside depressurized tubes.

He said his team of 106 Arizonan students has designed a hyperloop from the ground up, with the intention of bringing one to Arizona. They have already made it to the last round of the competition, Kosar said.

He said the process has been challenging.

“Last year, there were a few nights where a group of us just set up hammocks and slept in the lab since we didn’t have time to go home, get some sleep and get back there,” Kosar said.

Now, with a two-week-old baby to take care of, Kosar said he cannot afford to do this anymore.

“He’s always changing, he’s always doing something different that just catches my attention, that makes me smile and get excited about who he’s going to be some day,” Kosar said.

He said the experience has him wishing for more time, but he realizes that is a fruitless endeavor. As one of the leaders of AZLoop, Kosar said he works mostly in communication and bridging the gaps between the many subsystems within the team.

Read more: ASU students compete to build the fifth and fastest mode of transportation yet

Although he said each team member is valuable, Kosar said the team has a peculiar way of differentiating people.

“We have this kind of joke, but also kind of serious thing we call 'the bus factor,'” Kosar said. “It’s basically ‘how screwed is the team if you get hit by a bus?’”

For instance, he said, some team members understand intense thermodynamic implications and physics problems more easily than others.

“You know, that person has a really high bus factor,” Kosar said.

Christian Reischaur, the co-leader of the team’s mechanical design section and an undergraduate studying mechanical engineering, has a high "bus factor," following the definition.

“As far as AZLoop goes, he fills in the holes,” Reischaur said, speaking of Kosar. “When someone can’t come to the table with some material that is needed, he just knows it. He fills in the holes and has that exterior knowledge to do what needs to be done.”

Because Kosar returned to ASU after dropping out of a physics major in his last semester, he has an expansive knowledge of physics and robotics, Reischaur said.

“I would have to think hard to think of something that he’s not good at,” Reischaur said, before pausing and continuing. “Having such an important role in a project that demands so much, and having a newborn is going to be rough.”

Reischaur said Kosar likes jazz and can come off as enigmatic on a personal level at times. Still, he said the two have bonded over time.

“I’ve got to learn a lot about him professionally and personally, and he’s quite a character,” Reischaur said.

He said Kosar always has a new response when asked about his life outside of work.

“He has a signed picture of an astronaut from NASA, with his name on it,” Reischaur said. “And I haven’t heard that story yet.”

Kelsie Crawford, leader of the team’s business section who is pursuing a double major in physics and astrophysics, said the team’s finances would be even harder-fought without Kosar.

“He’s very charismatic, knows what he’s doing,” Crawford said. “There’s a reason he’s a project lead.”

Due to being involved in so many projects, Kosar is able to foster business connections no other team member could, Crawford said.

“He knows how everything works, but he also knows how the school works ...,” Crawford said. “And he has those connections that no one else on the team has.”

Additionally, his experience in business, physics, robotics and electronics contributes to great leadership, Crawford said.

“Because he’s kind of all over the place, he knows exactly what is going on in each team, which is very beneficial,” Crawford said. “Sometimes I wonder, ‘How does he even know that?’”

Kosar said he learns the most from other people.

“I like to listen to a lot of people because I believe that everybody has something to teach me,” Kosar said.

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