Like many of our winners, Cody Haugland was raised around computers. But his interests extend beyond the virtual armies and farms that his counterparts are absorbed with. A member of the Junior ROTC and an avid farmer, Cody knows the meaning of hard work.
Cody claims that he grew up around computers, electronics, and video games. He has fond memories of the original gameboy, but it wasn’t until he received an Xbox that the game design bug hit when his teacher gave him a copy of Kodu. At the time, Cody was in a computer class. Aware of the upcoming assignments, Cody would teach himself the lessons before they were covered in class. This allowed him to figure out what he would struggle with and get the teacher’s advice.
Cody was used to figuring things out on his own. He describes using the Adobe creative suite, Windows Movie Maker, and more to create animations and videos. Even before that, he was using his various gadgets to develop hacks for his favorite video games, “I used to download hacks and change them. I love the gaming community because I can modify someone’s work or use another’s hack to teach myself new skills. Then I can post my new stuff online to share with the same people who helped me. It was hard at first, but it was easy once I practiced enough.”
Since Cody taught himself video game design before the class was scheduled to learn Kodu, he already knew the traps he might fall into when creating a game for course credit. “I knew where I’d struggled and I asked my teacher for advice. He let me work on my game in class when everyone else was learning how to use the program and motivated me to get it done for the STEM Challenge. Then, when everyone else was making a game, I had to go back and make up the work I missed while designing my STEM Game.” At the STEM Challenge, we are grateful to Cody’s teacher for supporting games in the classroom and giving Cody the freedom to stretch his creative juices.
Cody’s hard-working attitude has served him well in both the Junior ROTC and FFA clubs, where Cody holds leadership positions. As an 8th grader, he found NJROTC intriguing, but had no formal introduction to the group. In 9th grade, he saw a few of his friends in uniform and began learning about the honor, discipline, and athleticism required of a cadet. “As I learned more and more what the cadets were responsible more, I got more excited, and decided to join the group half-way through 9th grade.”
Cody is now a 4th year cadet and the safety officer and department head of his unit. He describes his role as challenging and stimulating. “It is helping me become a leader and more responsible. I am motivate the cadets through speeches and activities but also have to keep the troupe in line with a lot of paperwork and guarantee their safety. I love that I worked my way up and my group and school trusts me.”
Outside of NJROTC, Cody is very involved in the FFA and the school’s Business Club and has found his passion with the dairy division. He dreams of opening a dairy farm and knows that he can use the business acumen acquired through the business club to help manage a farm. He stumbled into all the activities by chance, but has fallen in love with both and sees a future in both paths. He eventually hopes to combine his passions for technology, FFA, and business by owning his own dairy sill. Cody’s technical skill will help him create a website to promote his work and his involvement with NJROTC and business club give him the managerial skills necessary to own his own small business.
Cody describes himself as a loyal and caring friend. He gives back to the video game community but also to his friends. “I think that I look working with teams best of all. When I help someone else progress, we bond and learn each other’s working habits. I met my best friend Nick that way. He was falling behind and I tried to help him out. We grew closer and later on he knew me so well that he could pull me back up.” Ever resourceful, Nick and Cody rely on that same understanding on their frequent camping trips.
Cody brings his nurturing attitude to every community he touches, from his game design buddies to his cadets and even to his school. He was so inspired by the video production skills that he decided to produce and design a video for his school’s daily tv broadcast. He wants to teach more people about the joy that farming can bring to a community and so is producing the school’s first ever video not on a sporting event. “I’m really excited to share it with the school. Every day at second period they do a broadcast and I want more non-sporting activities to get attention. I’m lucky that I found NJROTC and FFA, but it was purely by luck; I hope I can inspire some kids to join the groups.”
Well, we find Cody inspiring and know that the responsibility gained from FFA, NJROTC, and Video Game Design will serve him well, wherever he lands.