All posts by Advancement

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.

From Manager to Owner: Lessons Learned

President and Owner of Delkor Systems Dale Andersen shared the lessons he learned during his transition from sales manager to company owner

When Dale Andersen made the decision in 1999 to purchase Delkor Systems he went from being the Sales Manager to the company’s President and Owner. At the time, the company had sold off its main product lines and was a small company of about 10 employees.

The transition from employee to owner was more difficult than Andersen imagined, but he learned quickly that losing money was a great motivator for innovation. That innovative spirit has allowed Delkor to not only transform into one of the leading U.S. manufactures of case packing and robotic packaging machinery, but revolutionize the way many products are packaged and sold. Today, Delkor employs nearly 200 people.

Andersen shared several leadership tips that he learned along the way:

  • Put Communication First – From public speaking to the written word, good communication has become a never-ending, lifelong pursuit for Andersen. And how the message gets delivered is just as important. Andersen stressed that e-mail is not always the best method and when it comes to delivering difficult news, a phone-call or a face-to-face meeting can prevent a lot of miscommunication.
  • Lead with Humility & Understanding – Listening to employees has always been an important part of Andersen’s job. He recently asked employees what changes they would make if they owned the company and is now in the process of implementing many of those suggestions.
  • Lead with Grace – Leaders should be direct, thoughtful and accept responsibility.
  • Focus on Culture – Hiring the right employees is critical the success and growth of a company. Employees need to not only have the technical knowledge, but they need to be a good fit with the company’s culture.
  • Think Strategically & Write It Down – Andersen said when he first bought the company in 1999 he didn’t have a written plan. By taking the time to define how the company should allocate its resources, it enables you to use those resources more effectively.
  • Build Creativity – A creative culture is a benefit to any organization and one of the best ways to stifle creativity is to come down hard on mistakes.

Watch the video of Andersen’s Leadership Lecture:

Machine Tool Alum Provides Lead Gift for New School of Engineering

Dunwoody College of Technology is thrilled to announce a $2 million gift from Ray, ’65 Machine Tool, and Nylene Newkirk for the new School of Engineering.

School of Engineering Concept ImageryNewkirk founded Tape, Inc., which filed nine patents for fusion bonding thermoplastics and developed a proprietary line of machinery known as Hydra Sealers. He sold Tape, Inc. in 1987 and then purchased two local businesses, Teamvantage plastics injection molding and then Custom Mold Design, maker of precision molds.

Today, Newkirk’s business is the largest single employer in Forest Lake, and a global player in the medical, electronics, defense and industrial markets.

Newkirk is a 1989 recipient of the Dunwoody Alumni Entrepreneur Award and a former Trustee of the College, 1999-2011.

Transforming the Campus

Dunwoody College of Technology, a leader in technical education for more than a century, is taking a big step toward its next hundred years. The College unveiled plans for its new School of Engineering and a major renovation of its campus. The renovation, which will create more interactive learning spaces and enhance the overall student experience, was recently boosted by Newkirk’s donation.

The first phase of the new School of Engineering is a four-year Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering, with other traditional engineering degrees to follow.

Dunwoody’s new bachelor degrees build on the College’s current expertise in training technicians for in-demand fields and were requested by and developed in concert with local industry. Engineering degrees will incorporate Dunwoody’s renowned method of real-world, applied, hands-on learning.

The College pioneered, and perfected over decades, an approach to technical education that places equal emphasis on providing students direct experience with the tools, techniques, materials and professional standards of their chosen industry as well as rigorous academic learning.

“We’re diversifying and expanding ways in which students can come to Dunwoody and study with us,” says President Rich Wagner. “More importantly, by doing so we help to bridge the skills gap across our region and meet the increasing workforce demands of industry, and class by class, brick by brick we’re staying committed to our mission of helping people change their lives. And, as always, we’re able to do that thanks in part to the ongoing and generous support of our industry partners and donor community.”

Physical Renovations to Encourage Collaboration,
Cater to Growing Enrollment

Physical renovations, additions and upgrades have all been designed in such a way as to encourage and promote the College’s immersive, hands-on teaching methodology, foster collaboration and enhance overall student life on campus.

Planning is already underway to create a state-of-the-art welcome center, to open up the lobby space and many of Dunwoody’s original high windows bricked over in the 1970s (originally done to reduce heating costs during the energy crisis of 1970s). Space for the School of Engineering will feature a two-story multi-functional learning environment that will house group work and presentation spaces as well as a virtualization and visualization lab to promote collaborative and immersive learning.

Over the next five to seven years the College will re-purpose no less than 53,000 square feet of the existing campus. The expansion will come from a remodel and fill-in of the current, under-utilized gymnasium; the employment of unused space in the main building’s attic; and the extension of spaces in several other areas.

“Our plan for updates and renovation is focused on enhancing the campus footprint we already have,” Wagner says. “We’re making design choices that preserve Dunwoody’s heritage and ensure the College’s physical spaces truly reflect and promote our teaching philosophy and methodology. That means open, collaborative spaces; innovative reuse of existing space; adaptive environments that encourage even more exploration and engagement between faculty members and our students. We’re focused on creating a better overall experience for prospective students, current students and campus visitors. It’s about creating spaces that better reflect our status as a leader in technical education.”

Program Additions Meet Industry Needs

In addition to the School of Engineering, Dunwoody recently added a Bachelor of Architecture program. The program is structured as a two plus three stackable credential, awarding an Associate of Applied Science degree after the first two years and a Bachelor of Architecture degree upon completion of the final three years. The first Architecture class will graduate in 2017. The college is also accepting applications for the first Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering with classes beginning August 2016.

In their first two years architecture students will become experts in current design and building technologies, making them ideal employees in building design and construction industries. In their final three years, they will become leaders in the profession of architecture as well as in the advancement of design and building technologies.

The addition of the School of Engineering and the Bachelor of Architecture exemplifies how Dunwoody stays true to its mission of providing a world-class, hands-on, applied education that meets industry needs.

Q&A with a Dunwoody Auto Alum

Dunwoody alumni are innovators, entrepreneurs, top technicians and skilled workers.  Here is a quick Q&A with just one!

Photo of Jeremy Leizo

Jeremy Leizo

Jeremy Leisenheimer, ’06 Automotive Service Technology
Emergency Vehicle Technician & Fleet Manager,

City of Rochester Fire Department

Q. Where is the weirdest place you have ever met a fellow alum?

A. At Chester’s Kitchen and Bar in Rochester.

Q. Has there been a moment in your career when you thought “My job is awesome!” and what was that moment?

A. Almost every day is awesome, what little boy doesn’t dream of playing with fire trucks everyday? One particular moment was when I was verifying a repair made to our aerial platform. It’s quite the view from way up there.

Q. What would your former classmates be surprised to know about you now?

A. That I work on fire trucks instead of cars and that I have taken woodworking up as a hobby.

Q. What is your favorite memory of Dunwoody?

A. I don’t have just one favorite memory, I enjoyed most of my time in school.

You can read more Q&As with Alumni & Friends in the Spring 2016 edition of the Alumni & Friends Magazine.

Q&A with a Dunwoody Baking Alum

Dunwoody alumni are innovators, entrepreneurs, top technicians and skilled workers.  Here is a quick Q&A with just one!

Photo of Tiffiny Meinert

Tiffiny Meinert, ’88 Baking
Owner, Tiffiny’s Tipton Bakery

Q. Where is the weirdest place you have ever met a fellow alum?

A. I live in very rural Iowa so I have not met a fellow Dunwoody alum yet. I have, however, through social media contacted my roommate from when we were both attending Dunwoody. She is in California now.

Q. Has there been a moment in your career when you thought “My job is awesome!” and what was that moment?

A. My job is awesome…. Well to be honest I have not had a “job” since I purchased the bakery 4 years ago. See I don’t have to go to work, I get to do what I love. Yes, there are trying times and I put in a lot of long hours but it has never felt like a “job.”

Q. What would your former classmates be surprised to know about you now?

A. My former classmates would most likely be surprised that I became a grandmother this year to twins.

Q. What is your favorite memory of Dunwoody?

A. My favorite memories of Dunwoody are when we would all work around the big wooden table rolling dough with Mr. Galloway, and
Mr. Letty showing me how I can make my flower cake designs have more dimension.

You can read more Q&As with Alumni & Friends in the Spring 2016 edition of the Alumni & Friends Magazine.