All posts by Advancement

Dunwoody names two Distinguished Teachers for 2018

Tom Larson & Richard Thomson honored for their commitment to students

Excellence in teaching and a commitment to lifelong learning are two of the reasons Machine Tool Technology Assistant Professor Tom Larson and Applied Management Adjunct Instructor Richard Thomson were awarded the 2018 Distinguished Teacher Award by Dunwoody College of Technology.

Larson and Thomson were presented with the awards during the April All-Employee Meeting, and both instructors were given medallions to wear during the College’s commencement ceremony this May.

The award is presented annually to a faculty member who has committed a significant portion of their career to the art of teaching and who demonstrates a consistent ability to instill critical and creative thinking skills in their students. In addition, they have demonstrated a commitment to the field of education and building effective relationships within secondary education and industry.

2018 Distinguished Teacher Award Tom Larson

Pictured (from left): Dean of Robotics & Manufacturing Programs E.J. Daigle, Machine Tool Technology Assistant Professor Tom Larson, Provost Jeff Ylinen, and President Rich Wagner.

Tom Larson: Dedicated to his craft and his students

For more than 28 years, Larson has been educating future machinists and manufacturing technicians in his roll as an educator at Dunwoody College of Technology.

“Tom is an outstanding instructor, and his students appreciate his meticulous attention to detail and extensive explanations of CNC programming,” said E.J. Daigle, Dean of Robotics & Manufacturing Programs.

Larson was instrumental in the concept and creation of Dunwoody’s program Right Skills Now for Manufacturing in 2011, and since then he has worked with his students to obtain more than 600 National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) credentials.

“Combining all of this with his willingness to work after hours, including most Saturdays, to maintain and repair equipment makes Tom a crucial resource to the success of a machine shop,” Daigle said. “Tom’s role at Dunwoody cannot be discounted.”

“Receiving the award, which was totally unexpected, was a very gratifying experience,” Larson said. “If you pursue vocationally what you enjoy, and work at perpetuating the craft, the end result will undoubtedly be a satisfying one.”

2018 Distinguished Teacher Award

Pictured (from left): President Rich Wagner, Applied Management Adjunct Instructor Richard Thomson, and Provost Jeff Ylinen.

Richard Thomson: Putting students first

As both a faculty member and an administrator, Thomson has spent the majority of his career dedicating himself to ensuring that all students get the best education possible.

“His selfless, servant leader attitude is demonstrated on a daily basis,” said Michael White, Dean of Applied Management. “His dedication to his students is commendable and goes way above the expectations for any faculty member.”

Thomson holds his students to a high standard, but works proactively and fairly with them so they can be successful.

“He always believes in his students, even when his students do not believe in themselves,” White said. “There are countless success stories found in his students, who would not be successful without the incredible dedication, caring, and teaching excellence exemplified by Richard.”

Always willing to adapt new technologies, Thomson took on the challenge of finding a new way to deliver distance learning. In a short timeframe, he worked to create a webcasting option that delivered an outstanding class to his students. The Applied Management program now uses this as the standard delivery method for the program. ­

Finding the right mix

Concrete Bowling Ball Competition 1Dunwoody students designing a better concrete bowling ball

It might only be eight inches in diameter and weigh less than 12 pounds, but there is nothing simple about designing and constructing a concrete bowling ball. But two Dunwoody students are taking on the challenge and putting their creativity and ingenuity to the test at an international competition later this month.

Sponsored by the American Concrete Institute (ACI), the international FRC Bowling Ball Competition will be held on March 25 in Salt Lake City, Utah during the Concrete Convention and Exposition. The object of the competition is to demonstrate the effect of fiber reinforced concrete, to gain experience in forming and fabricating a fiber-reinforced concrete element, and to encourage creativity in engineering design and analysis.

This is the first year that Dunwoody will compete in the competition, said Ben Holbrook, Surveying & Civil Engineering Technology Senior Instructor. Holbrook was told about the competition from an industry connection and brought it forward to students in the Construction Sciences & Building Technology program areas to see if there was interest.

Construction Project Management student Nate Swanson and Surveying & Civil Engineering Technology student Hayden Swanson were immediately on board with the project.

The rules of the game

Holbrook said that engineering a perfectly round ball from concrete is difficult enough, but competition rules make it even trickier. Typically, an 8-inch diameter ball of concrete would weigh about 24 pounds, but guidelines for the event state that each bowling ball must weigh no more than 12 pounds.

N. Swanson said that each team is allowed to use two additional materials to achieve the goal. The Dunwoody team has chosen to use a Styrofoam ball inside the concrete as well as a polymer filler.

Deciding on the right mixture has taken the team hours of planning and designing, and then they still needed to fabricate it. Last week, the team moved into forming and testing their design. In order to form the 8-inch cylindrical shape, the Dunwoody team decided to use a round lighting fixture as their mold.

Getting ready for competition

The team is making multiple concrete bowling balls using their design so they can test them out before heading out to Salt Lake City. More than 50 teams from around the world will be competing in this year’s competition.

The competition includes two categories: Bowling Ball Design and Bowling Ball Analysis. Both categories require knowledge and experience about concrete, fiber reinforcement, material behavior, and bowling. Tests during the competition will include a mass test, diameter test, toughness test, and load test. In addition, each team will compete in a bowling test to see which team can score the highest in six-pin bowling.

Both N. Swanson and H. Swanson said they have enjoyed using their knowledge and skills to find innovative solutions in a hands-on competition.    

Learning about Leadership in Today’s Technology Fields

Mitch DeJong speaking at Dunwoody
March Leadership Lecture featured
Chief Technology Officer from Design Ready Controls

Multi-generational workforce development, embracing conflict and harnessing diverse perspectives to find creative solutions were just a few of the topics Mitch DeJong spoke about at Dunwoody’s March 1 C. Charles Jackson Leadership Lecture.

The Chief Technology Officer at Design Ready Controls, DeJong shared leadership lessons he’s learned from a career that has spanned the automotive, environmental and manufacturing sectors.

“Embracing passion equals embracing conflict,” DeJong said during his lecture, explaining that when you can embrace conflict between two diverse viewpoints, rather than trying to build a middle-ground consensus that doesn’t make either side happy, you can arrive at a better solution.

Mitch DeJong with Dunwoody President Rich Wagner and VP of Institutional Advancement Brian NelsonDeJong has a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in Natural Resources Science and Management and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from North Dakota State University.

His career and research have focused on multi-perspective design in a variety of fields, including: automotive design, expert systems software architecture, natural resources planning, and most recently, multi-generational workforce development.

Design Ready Controls is a growing manufacturing company headquartered out of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.

 

Dunwoody College Names Vice President of Institutional Advancement

Dunwoody hires Brian Nelson to lead College’s
strategic advancement efforts

Brian NelsonFor more than 30 years, Brian Nelson has helped non-profit organizations grow and donors support organizational missions. And now, he brings his skills and passion for fundraising to Dunwoody.

Serving as the Vice President of Institutional Advancement, Nelson will lead advancement efforts for the College, including fundraising, alumni engagement, and industry partnerships.

“Dunwoody is a Midwest landmark for high quality technical education with a rich tradition and bright future,” Nelson said. “I look forward to being a part of a forward thinking, goal-driven team, and I am excited to work with industry leaders who are passionate about the impact Dunwoody has had on the community and their lives.”

Nelson comes to Dunwoody from the Pinky Swear Foundation, where he served as the organization’s President/CEO. During his time there, he grew the Foundation’s annual revenue from $900,000 to $2.8 million and expanded service to families in all 50 states. His portfolio includes working for William Mitchell College of Law, Children’s Cancer Research Fund, Allina Hospice Foundation, Memorial Blood Centers, and the American Cancer Society.

“I truly enjoy the interaction with donors,” Nelson shared. “It is amazing to learn about their lives, their connections to the institution, and how philanthropy can help shape their dreams and visions.”

During his spare time, Nelson enjoys playing golf, fishing, reading, remodeling and fixing things, and spending time with his family.

“I hope to provide value in building on Dunwoody’s culture of philanthropy and alumni engagement,” Nelson said. “And I look forward to helping further the mission of this institution.”

Nelson will replace current Vice President of Institutional Advancement Stuart Lang, who will retire later this year. Lang has been with the College for five years.

Nelson can be reached at bnelson@dunwoody.edu or at 612-381-3042.

Student Spotlight: Aaron McCauley-Aburto

Student Spotlight
Aaron McCauley-Aburto, Bachelor of Architecture
Expected Graduation: May 2019

Aaron McCauley-Aburto is a military veteran and part of the first group of students who are enrolled in the Bachelor of Architecture program here at Dunwoody.

“There is a huge sense of ownership in the program,” McCauley-Aburto said. “Not only do we get to be founders in a new architecture program, but we get to have ownership in a new architectural style of learning, where we place emphasis on technical abilities and learning our tools first and then we transition into theory. I respond really well to that.”

Changing Lives Through Scholarships: Paige Fischer

Scholarship Spotlight
Paige Fischer, Industrial Engineering Technology
Expected Graduation: May 2019
Women In Technical Careers (WITC) Scholarship, Graco Scholarship

Industrial Engineering Technology student Paige Fischer always knew she wanted a hands-on career. Now in her second year at Dunwoody she is looking forward to a career as a manufacturing engineer in the medical device industry after she graduates.

“I’m excited to be a manufacturing engineer with a machinist background. My dream job is a medical manufacturing engineer,” Fischer said. “The motivation is being able to be a woman who makes differences.”

Changing Lives Through Scholarships: Danny Treat

Scholarship Spotlight
Danny Treat, Engineering Drafting & Design
Expected Graduation: May 2017
Owen Family Fund for Prosperity Scholarship

Danny Treat has always had a lot of interests in life. But Dunwoody College of Technology has given him the focus and drive he needed to steer those interests onto a promising career path.

Growing up in San Diego, Treat struggled with traditional high school, but found success at a charter school that emphasized real work experience.

With interests that spanned a wide spectrum of fields, Treat explored multiple options at a community college before admitting he just wasn’t ready for more school.

Treat was interested in several service-learning programs available through non-profit organizations. He eventually settled on a three-month commitment with Catholic Charities, helping rebuild homes in New Orleans. He continued that work with AmeriCorps, eventually serving as one of the project managers and volunteer coordinators.

A hands-on learner, Treat enjoyed the carpentry and construction aspects of the job, but he also liked the idea of helping design a project. With those interests in mind, Treat enrolled at the University of New Orleans in the naval architecture and marine engineering program.

But the four-year, traditional college model wasn’t a good fit. “There was no ‘hands-on’ learning,” Treat said, adding that it wasn’t until the final year of the program that you got to do the “fun stuff.”

By this time, Treat had met his now fiancée who was from the Twin Cities and wanted to move back to start her teaching career.

The couple moved to Minneapolis and Treat found work installing closets, and looked into joining the electrical union. It was his fiancée’s mother, who happens to be a career counselor, who first suggested Dunwoody as an option.

So Treat attended an open house and checked out a number of programs before hearing about the Engineering Drafting & Design program.

“When I saw the 3D printers and heard about the program I knew that was it,” Treat said.

It was decision he never regretted. “I felt more at home here than I did at either the community college or the four-year university,” Treat said. “I connected more.”

Treat was impressed with all of the hands-on work, and with a 3.96 GPA, he has excelled in all of his coursework. Treat is also one of the 2016-17 Owen Scholarship recipients.

“I haven’t had a day when I haven’t wanted to come to school,” Treat said.

He already has an internship with Proto Labs, an on-demand manufacturer of custom prototypes using CNC machining, injection molding and 3D printing.

After graduating, Treat wants to find a career that allows him to utilize all of the skills he’s learned – from design to build. “I want to design the stuff and then help make it,” Treat said.

If you’d like to help someone like Danny with a scholarship gift, donate online at www.alumni.dunwoody.edu/donate-now or contact Mary Meador at 612-381-3048 or mmeador@Dunwoody.edu.

A passion for solving problems: An alumni profile

Allen Wentland, ’86 Computer & Digital Systems Technician, has built a business by finding solutions

When Allen Wentland, ’86 Computer & Digital Systems Technician, was hired as the first employee of the newly formed Washburn Computer Group he never imagined that the title behind his name would one day be “owner.” More than 25 years later Wentland may now be the boss, but his biggest joy still comes from doing what he was first hired to do – solving problems for customers. Now he just accomplishes that goal on a much larger scale.

Photo of Allen Wentland at Washburn Computer Group.

Allen Wentland, ’86 Computer & Digital Systems Technician, is the owner of a Monticello-based computer company — Washburn Computer Group.

The road to business ownership

Wentland’s path to business ownership is anything but traditional. Growing up in a small Minnesota farming community, Wentland began working maintenance at a foundry after high school. And while the job wasn’t what he wanted to do for the rest of his life, he did discover a talent and passion for fixing electronics.

So at the age of 31, Wentland took it to heart when his uncle Leo Wentland, ‘49 Electrical Construction & Maintenance, said to him, “Allen, go to Dunwoody.”

Two years later, Wentland got his degree and his first job in the industry. He was hired by Dataserv to work in their new Point of Sale (POS) division, repairing the POS computers and equipment that make sales in the service industry possible. The POS industry includes everything from the cash registers to the software systems.

The company went out of business, but Wentland’s experience in the POS industry got him a job as a technician for a brand new company – Washburn Computer Group. In the beginning, the company was simply buying and selling POS equipment.

“During my first week I remember thinking that this was going to be one of the easiest jobs I ever had,” Wentland laughingly recalls.

It wasn’t long before Wentland’s knack for solving problems kicked in. “In the beginning, we were just buying and selling, no maintenance,” Wentland said. “So I started putzing with some of the broken equipment to see if I could repair and resell it.”

The idea was a good one and today the repair side now accounts for about 80 percent of Washburn’s business.

A unique side of the computer industry

When you tour the company you get a feel for the scope of services Washburn provides. Instead of just throwing out equipment that doesn’t work, companies send the broken equipment to Washburn. Once it arrives everything is cataloged, stripped apart and then cleaned. Parts are even painted to look brand new. Technicians go to work diagnosing and then repairing the problem before everything is reassembled and shipped back to the customer. As for the parts that cannot be repaired – those are destroyed and then recycled.

As the business grew, so did Wentland’s responsibilities. The job titles changed as well, from Technician to Head Technician to Vice President. And then one day, the past owner approached Wentland with the news that he was ready to sell the company.

Wentland wasn’t ready for the role of owner, but he also wasn’t ready to let go of a company he had helped build from the ground up. So on December 28, 2005, Wentland added the title of Owner to his name.

From employee to owner

At the time, Washburn had between 20 and 30 employees and was handling the repair of about 2,000 pieces of equipment a month.

Today, the business has nearly tripled and now employs close to 80 employees and repairs and ships about 6,000 pieces of equipment a month out of its two locations – the main facility in Monticello, Minnesota, and a second shipping center in Las Vegas.

The path to success was not an easy one. Wentland knew the technical side of the company, but he had to learn the business side. He surrounded himself with good people and learned from several mentors. To this day, Wentland is still grateful for the help and plans to pay it forward when he retires by mentoring other small business owners.

The success of Washburn can also be seen in its growing list of customers. “We don’t lose customers,” Wentland said. Today the company serves a wide range of well-known companies in the service industry – from casinos to home improvement stores.

Wentland is still amazed by the two-person business he helped grow into the thriving company it is today. His advice to young entrepreneurs? “Don’t give up. Surround yourself with problem-solvers who take pride in serving your customers.”

When he is not at work, Wentland can be found up north tackling his next challenge – the renovation and rebuilding of an old cabin. A getaway he shares with his wife Janice and their extended family, including 19 grandchildren.

Read more stories about alumni entrepreneurs in the Fall 2016 edition of the Alumni & Friends Magazine.