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The Self-Starter: An Alum Profile

Meet Vern Discher, ’48 Engineering Drafting & Design Technology

Discher_Vernon1Visit Vern and Shirley Discher’s Prior Lake home and you’ll see Dunwoody pride. A Dunwoody pennant hangs over the door in the den. Certificates acknowledging Vern’s membership in the Dunwoody 50-Year-Club and the Legacy Association are displayed on the wall, next to scores of family pictures and a map showing the couple’s travels around the world and to all 50 states.

“Shirley and I have been truly blessed in our journey through life,” says Vern. “This isn’t a ‘me’ story; it’s a ‘we’ story.”

The couple met on a double date in Minneapolis when they were still in high school. Vern was hooked instantly, but marriage had to wait until after he completed his military service in Germany and graduated from Dunwoody.

Once he had settled into work at West Bend Aluminum Company (a job the College arranged for him), he and Shirley launched their life together.

In the following years, Vern moved through a series of positions that built his knowledge of extruded aluminum manufacturing and sales.

“I was always looking for better jobs with higher pay, so I moved around from company to company in those early years,” he explains, admitting that there were a few times when he tried some “wild scheme to be my own boss” that didn’t work out. “I think I just had a built-in desire to be independent,” he explains.

In 1975, he was named general manager of Northland Marine, a division of Northland Aluminum Products that manufactured marine windshields and portholes.

The company was struggling, and Vern and CEO/owner Dave Dalquist turned it around by moving into extruded aluminum fabricating, an industry Vern knew very well.

With a new name of Northland Fabricators and a new product line, sales took off. In 1979, when Northland Aluminum was ready to sell the division, Vern and plant manager Larry Holen, bought the company, renaming it Norfab.

“A lot of the success of Norfab was my ability to hire the right people,” explains Vern. He focused on sales, and let other people do their jobs.

Shirley was often at his side at trade shows, business dinners and calls on key customers. “She did an excellent job,” says Vern. “She loved people and people loved her. We’d go to a trade show, and they’d show up at our booth and say, ‘Where’s Shirley?’”

In 1987, Vern sold his share of the company and retired to travel the world with Shirley.

“I have great personal pride in the fact that after more than 25 years, Norfab is still very much in business and that most of the employees that were there when I left are either still working there or have retired from Norfab.”

“When I look back on my career, I see that things just evolved,” says Vern. He’s pleased to see that Dunwoody continues to evolve too. “When I was there, Dunwoody was all drafting boards and tee squares,” he remembers. “Now it’s all computers. It fascinates me to go through it and to see what the young people are doing and the things they’re creating.”

Architecture Student’s Present Design Proposals for Steger Wilderness Center Dining Hall

In August 2016, third-year Architecture students were asked to help design a brand new dining hall for the Steger Wilderness Center, an ecologically-focused building devoted to sustainability education and climate change solution.

Splitting into three groups, the students spent their fall semester studying the land, documenting their experience, creating schematic designs of the hall, designing 3D digital models and building full-scale detail models of the building. Birchwood Café’s Chef Marshall Paulson even critiqued the students designs.

In December 2016, students presented their design proposals to students, faculty, Will Steger, and members of the design faculty.

These are their final designs.

 

 

Dunwoody Automotive adds online training for Audi and Subaru vehicles

 Latest offerings boost Dunwoody’s number of manufacturer programs to five.

As the need for Automotive technicians continues to rise, so does Dunwoody’s list of program offerings.

A photo of Dunwoody's Automotive LabDunwoody will soon offer online, add-on credentials for students interested in working on both Subaru and Audi vehicles.

Audi is the College’s first European manufacturer program, which means Dunwoody is now recognized as a Premium Plus – Audi Education Partnership Program (AEP) College. The two new programs will join the already impressive spread of manufacture-specific programs at Dunwoody, which include Honda, Mopar, and Toyota.

“We are very fortunate in that we now have five manufacturer programs,” said Steve Reinarts, Automotive Dean. “Many colleges don’t have a single one.”

Online training to complement student’s campus training, boost job opportunities

The Audi and Subaru trainings are completely free for students enrolled in the College’s Automotive Service Technology, Mopar Career Automotive, or Honda Professional Auto Career Training programs.

A close-up of an Audi vehicle’s engine, recently donated to Dunwoody College

A close-up of an Audi vehicle’s engine, which was recently donated to Dunwoody College

The add-on credentials aim to complement the training students will already be receiving on campus. Reinarts explained that when a student is studying engines in class, they will also study engines specific to either Subaru or Audi online. The online training as well as all course materials come directly from the manufacturer, ensuring students are learning the most up-to-date information.

Upon completion of the training, students receive an Audi or Subaru General Skill Level certificate, which allows them to work at any Audi or Subaru dealer in the country. Combined with the student’s associate’s degrees, hands-on training, and internship or job experience, the additional certification aims to place students at the top of the resume pile.

Auto department to receive brand new Audi and Subaru equipment, vehicles

But the training doesn’t just benefit those who take it, Reinarts explained. “The entire Automotive department as a whole benefits from these programs.

A close-up of a Subaru vehicle’s engine, recently donated to Dunwoody College

A close-up of a Subaru vehicle’s engine, which was recently donated to Dunwoody College

“Because of these manufacturer programs, the Auto department is donated tools, equipment, vehicles—all of which are brand new,” Reinarts said. “So, all of our students get exposed to brand new service information and the latest and greatest of everything.

“These programs also benefit our new students because we can offer them all kinds of options,” Reinarts continued. “Some students love to work on just one type of vehicle, others like to learn and train on a wide variety of vehicles. We have opportunities for both.”

The College’s Subaru training option is available now. Audi training will most likely be available starting fall 2017.

Discover the Dunwoody Difference

If you are interested in an Automotive career, join us at our next open house on Tuesday, Jan. 17, or visit dunwoody.edu to learn more.

Learn more about Dunwoody Automotive.

Dunwoody’s Cindy Martimo elected to second term as Secretary/Treasurer of IDEC

Dunwoody Interior Design Principal Instructor Cindy Martimo to start second term as the Secretary/Treasurer for the Interior Design Educators Council (IDEC).

Dunwoody Interior Design Principal Instructor Cindy Martimo Earlier this month the Interior Design Educators Council (IDEC) announced the 2017-2018 Board of Directors, naming Cindy Martimo Secretary/Treasurer for the third year in a row.

The mission of IDEC is to advance interior design education, scholarship, and service. Founded in 1962, the organization strives to advance responsible design thinking through professional development, innovative teaching resources, and open dialogue/collaboration projects.

IDEC is the place where excellent teaching ideas are shared as well as opportunities for scholarships, grants, and presentations by our faculty,” Martimo said. “The organization provides an opportunity for instructors from across the country to connect.”

As the Secretary/Treasurer for the organization, Martimo manages the minutes and notes from all board and annual meanings, oversees the budget, maintains the Policy and Procedures Manual, and chairs the finance committee.

“I like my role as Secretary/Treasurer,” Martimo said. “It provides an inside look at the organization as a whole and the opportunity to provide the voice of a teaching institution.”

Martimo has been involved with the organization since 2010. Her second term officially begins May 1, 2017.

Learn more about Dunwoody Interior Design.

Dunwoody students give back for the holidays

This holiday season, Dunwoody’s Student Government Association is focusing on giving back to the community and families in need.

IMG_9312 copyIn addition to overseeing clubs and organizations on campus, Dunwoody College of Technology’s Student Government Association (SGA) focuses much of its efforts on volunteerism and giving back to the community.

In September, SGA volunteered with Feed My Starving Children. The students packed 136 boxes of food that would provide 29,376 meals to children in Haiti. And in November, the students spent time at Ebenezer Care Center where they played bingo with the residents of the nursing home.

“We’re representing the student body and being in a leadership role, I think it’s crucial to give back to the community,” SGA President Danial Hannover said. “Volunteering and doing a little extra is all a part of being a leader.”

SGA hosts holiday drives for families in need

In addition to volunteering their time, SGA organized several drives to benefit families in need this holiday season.

With Thanksgiving in mind, SGA held a food drive throughout the month of November. The drive benefitted The Food Group, a full-service food bank with over 200 hunger relief partners throughout Minnesota. The Food Group provides free food, access to bulk food purchasing, and food drive programs to communities throughout the state.

By the end of the drive, SGA collected enough food items from the Dunwoody community to fill a 55-gallon barrel.

This month, SGA is focusing on the winter holidays by collecting winter clothing and gear donations for the Salvation Army. They’re also holding a competition to see which academic department can raise the most toys to benefit Toys for Tots.

The Association will be collecting winter clothing and gear until Friday, Dec. 23. Academic departments will be collecting toys for Toys for Tots until Friday, Dec. 16. Winners of the Toys for Tots drive will be announced on Monday, Dec. 19.

“There’s a lot of families out there in need – especially during the holiday season,” SGA member Tommy Dao said. “We take a lot of things for granted, and we want to give a helping hand whenever we can.”

Learn more about SGA.

Kate and William Hood Dunwoody honored with Legacy Award

Kate and William Hood Dunwoody founded the region’s only nonprofit polytechnic college over a century ago, which to date has produced more than 250,000 graduates.

December 14 is always a special day at Dunwoody College of Technology. It marks the anniversary of its beginning.

Over a century ago today, Kate and William Hood Dunwoody bequeathed $4.5 million (or $108 million in today’s dollars) to found Dunwoody College of Technology — the region’s only nonprofit, polytechnic college.

And every day since then, we have been working to change lives by building opportunities for graduates to have successful careers, to develop into leaders and entrepreneurs, and to engage in “the better performance of life’s duties.
(Quote is from the Last Will and Testament of William Hood Dunwoody.)

The Dunwoody’s were recently recognized by the Association of Fundraising Professionals with The Legacy Award — an award reserved for givers who are no longer living.

Birchwood Café Chef helps Architecture students design Steger Wilderness Center Dining Hall

Chef’s critiques and background in restaurant industry influences student James Matthes’ kitchen design.

Earlier this year, third-year Architecture students were asked to help design and build a brand new dining hall for the Steger Wilderness Center, an ecologically-focused building devoted to sustainability education and climate change solution.

Photo of Birchwood Café’s Chef Marshall Paulson critiquing student designs.

Birchwood Café’s Chef Marshall Paulson critiques student designs, shares tips and best practices on kitchen design

The project—led by Architecture Instructor Molly Reichert and Center Founder Will Steger—began in late August, when students spent a week at the Center in Ely, MN. Here students studied the Center, learned of the building requirements set forth by Steger, and camped at the location where the new structure will be built!

Students have since split into several small teams, each working to design a different options of what the dining hall could be. Steger will then use the designs as he seeks funding for the structure.

But creating the schematic design proposals hasn’t been as easy as some of the student’s past design projects. It has required a lot of one-on-one time with the client, new approaches to design, and even critiques from the Birchwood Café’s Chef Marshall Paulson.

Advice from industry experts gives students a taste of life in the industry

As someone who has spent most of his time in a kitchen, Paulson was able to provide students with a unique and necessary perspective to each of their designs. During his presentation, Paulson shared industry tips and best practices on things that might not have immediately come to mind for the students, including sink location, cabinetry space, number of drawers, preferred shelving structures, ideal appliances, kitchen health codes, budgets, and timelines.

Architecture student James Matthes said that the critique was extremely valuable, helping him and his group identify a few areas of improvement that could be made to their design.

“It was really good to have his perspective,” Matthes said. “We bounced ideas off of him, and he was able to pick out a few things that we had missed, especially in regards to the openness of the kitchen to the dining room.”

In addition to help from Paulson, Matthes’ background in the restaurant business has also helped shape his schematic design.

Family business helped shape Architecture student’s design
Initial sketches/designs from Architecture students James Matthes, Aaron McCauley, Guyon Brenna, and Marcos Villalobos.

Initial sketches/designs from Architecture students James Matthes, Aaron McCauley, Guyon Brenna, and Marcos Villalobos.

“My dad owns a restaurant and I worked there for several years,” Matthes explained. “So I’ve been surrounded by kitchens my whole life—it’s kind of in my blood.”

With good Italian food, reasonable prices, and catering capabilities, Matthes’ family restaurant, Marino’s Deli’s, cliental and sales varied greatly. And those experiences have helped Matthes decide what the Center Dining Hall could look like and how to best accommodate a wide-array of customers and kitchen-needs.

“We have a very small restaurant, and we keep our prices fairly cheap so we get a huge mix of people coming in. So, I got that small, day-to-day interaction with people, but we also cater really large events. And that’s kind of what this Dining Hall space has to be flexible with: the people and both small events and big events.”

But one thing Matthes said he and his classmates were not as prepared for was the challenge of making a sustainable kitchen.

“It’s really tough to make a sustainable kitchen,” Matthes said. “You have these big pieces of equipment, and you’re constantly washing things—it’s a waste. But we’re exploring ideas on how to deal with waste and recycling and composting, and Will is interested in adding a root cellar and using an icehouse. And that’s not something we’ve done in past projects, like when we were-designing an apartment complex in downtown Minneapolis. It’s just not something we are used to seeing. So it brings a whole other perspective that should help all of us in the long-run.” 

Studio provides real-world experience

While this studio hasn’t been the student’s first stab at design, Matthes shared that this particular project has been much more real than the projects conducted in year one and two.

The combination of hearing from industry experts, working with a real client, and knowing this is a structure that will actually be built, has forced the teams to approach their designs in a much more practical, real-world way—an approach to education that Dunwoody College prides itself on.

A potential dining hall design for the Steger Wilderness Center created by Architecture students James Matthes,<br /> Aaron McCauley, Guyon Brenna, and Marcos Villalobos.

A potential dining hall design for the Steger Wilderness Center created by Architecture students James Matthes,
Aaron McCauley, Guyon Brenna, and Marcos Villalobos.

“In the past it’s been ‘okay, here is our design. This looks cool, so let’s just go with that,’” Matthes said. “Whereas now [we ask] ‘does this appeal to the client and is it going to fit?’ And so from the get-go that was something we really concentrated on: to make sure that the design worked.

“It’s exhausting every design idea that we’ve had, and it has been stressful, but in the end, it’s worth it. It’s worth it to see a client happy and enjoying what they’re seeing.”

Learn more

The students will present their designs at 9:30 a.m., Friday, Dec. 16, at Dunwoody. Steger and Paulson as well as Founder of Birchwood Café Tracy Singleton and Mechanical Engineer and Alternative Energy Consultant Craig Tarr will be in attendance.

After the presentation, Steger will choose several student designs, or portions of their designs, to move forward with. The final building design will be dependent on funding and community support. The hope is to break ground in 2018.

Learn more about Dunwoody Architecture.

Radiologic Technology graduates honored at Pinning Ceremony

Dunwoody Rad Tech graduates ready to enter the profession.

IMG_9956 copySeven of Dunwoody’s Radiologic Technology students officially graduated on Thursday, December 8, at a Pinning Ceremony where they were honored for the successful completion of the program.

Program graduates must also take and pass the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification exam in order to secure employment. The current five-year average pass rate for Dunwoody is 88%.

The College’s Rad Tech graduates earn an Associate of Applied Science degree over two years (four semesters and two summer sessions). During this time, students rotate between 10-15 different clinics and hospitals in the Twin Cities area, including North Memorial Hospital. The variety of clinical sites allows students to work with real patients in every healthcare setting and situation before graduation–from level-one trauma centers to geriatric hospitals. There are two graduating cohorts per year–one in July and one in December.

IMG_9991 copyCongratulations to the following December 2016 Rad Tech graduates:

  • Summer Bachmeyer
  • Brittney Boie
  • Kayla Canfield
  • Rami Erickson
  • Rhea Gulden
  • Kim Kotila
  • Josh Olson
Students graduate with honors

During the Pinning Ceremony, Rad Tech faculty and staff also recognized students with various awards. Congratulations to the following graduates:

Dunwoody Clinical Excellence Award: Rhea Gulden
This award is given to a student who exemplifies the ideal behavior in a clinical environment. This student works well with students, staff technologists, and other clinical instructors in their clinical setting. The student receiving the Clinical Excellence Award personifies the type of student that Dunwoody and the Radiologic Technology Program would want every student to strive to be in their clinical setting.

Most Improved Award: Josh Olson
This award is given to the student who exemplifies the most improvement from day one through their graduation—not only in the classroom setting, but in the clinical setting as well.

Best Patient Care Award: Kim Kotila
This award is given to a student who demonstrates superior care to the patients that they work with during their clinical rotations. The student selected for this award ensures that the patient comes first and that all the needs and concerns that a patient may have are taken care of.

Learn more about Dunwoody’s Radiologic Technology program.