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Hands-on with robotic arms

Student project entitled Bad Escape Artist, spells out "LET ME OUT" with a dry erase marker. Second-year Automated Systems & Robotics students were recently tasked with a simple assignment: to design an industrial robot program for any application of their choosing.

According to Instructor Joey White, the only requirement was that “they needed to demonstrate the use of position registers, the offset motion option along with math instructions to make sequential moves in a specific pattern based on a minimum number of taught reference points.”

A hands-on project gives real-world experience

In addition to programming the robot, the students also used SolidWorks to design the tooling at the end of the robotic arm and later brought their tools to life using the College’s Stratasys 3D printers.

This approach to the project exposed students to the full process of putting together a packaging system from start to finish — finding solutions to problems from the very first stage of production.

“I’ve learned a lot more about the automated packaging systems and how they can be utilized in so many ways,” said second-year Automated Systems & Robotics student Dallas Stewart. “It’s crazy the amount of opportunity there is in this field.”

One robot, many applications

With the guidelines in mind, the students paired up and got to work in Dunwoody’s FANUC-certified robotics lab — designing an array of robotic programs.

  • Spiral Supreme, designed by Mark Reznikov and Jesse Theis: this program is designed to pick up and drop metal balls down a spiral chute.
  • Bad Escape Artist, designed by Dallas Stewart and Steve Thulien: this program was designed to write “LET ME OUT” with a dry-erase marker and then erase it.
  • Robot Piano, designed by James Olson and Will Snyder: designed to play “Hot Cross Buns” on the piano.
  • Auto Butler, designed by Kim Wieting and Mike Prudhon: designed to serve glass bottles.

“What I really enjoy most about this class is actually being able to program the PLC’s and the robots rather than just talking about it in theory,” Stewart said.

Visit Dunwoody’s Automated Systems & Robotics program web page for more information or contact Dean of Robotics & Manufacturing E.J. Daigle at edaigle@dunwoody.edu.

Diversity Forums: a Dunwoody tradition

Since 2002, Dunwoody has hosted a monthly Diversity Forum inviting students, faculty and community members to discuss new topics surrounding diversity.

Kimberly Brown sings with her group of singers, Kimberly's Krew, at the February Diversity Forum celebrating Black History Month.

Kimberly Brown sings with her group of singers, Kimberly’s Krew, at the February Diversity Forum celebrating Black History Month.

Throughout the years, Dunwoody has hosted more than 160 speakers including Minnesota Council on Foundations President Trista Harris, Former Minneapolis Mayor and Executive Director of Generation Next R.T. Rybak, and Minneapolis Deputy Police Chief of Staff Medaria Arradondo.

Most recently, Dunwoody featured Grammy Award Winner Kimberly Brown and KSTP TV 5 Broadcast Journalist Cleo Greene at the February Diversity Forum last Wednesday celebrating Black History Month. More than 100 students and faculty filled the College’s McNamara Center to listen to Brown sing along with her group, Kimberly’s Krew. Afterward, Greene spoke about her experience growing up and fulfilling her dreams of becoming a broadcast journalist. As Greene shared her background story, she urged students to think about what they are posting to social media and how it reflects their personal brand – and how they are being perceived. “We are the owner of who we are as a brand,” Greene said.

KSTP TV 5 Broadcast Journalist Cleo Greene speaks at February's Diversity Forum celebrating Black History Month.

KSTP TV 5 Broadcast Journalist Cleo Greene speaks at February’s Diversity Forum celebrating Black History Month.

Don’t miss the next Diversity Forum where Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson will speak about Women’s History Month and her experience being elected as the first female attorney general in Minnesota. The Forum will take place at 12:30 p.m., on March 15, in the College’s McNamara Center. All are welcome, and refreshments are provided.

For more information on Dunwoody’s Diversity Forums — or to RSVP to the next event — contact Dr. Leo Parvis at lparvis@dunwoody.edu. Dr. Parvis is the Diversity Programs & Education Coordinator at Dunwoody College of Technology.

Students travel to Orlando, FL for 2016 ASHRAE Winter Conference, AHR Expo

Heating & Air Conditioning Engineering Technology students Jack Vaccaro and Kristofer Petrie—along with Program Manager Chuck Taft—attended the 2016 American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Winter Conference & Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration (AHR) Institute Expo in Orlando, FL Jan. 23-27.

Photo of Kristofer Petriea and Jack Vaccaro at 2016 ASHRAE Winter Conference

Kristofer Petrie and Jack Vaccaro (L to R)

More than 2,000 manufacturers and 60,000 Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVACR) professionals attend the AHR event each year.

ASHRAE Conference, AHR Expo shapes students into valuable employees

Taft said the annual conference and expo are especially beneficial to students pursuing a career in HVACR.

At the events, Kristofer and Jack were able to:

  • Participate in educational presentations, seminars, panels and workshops
  • Learn how to navigate through everyday HVAC engineering and design issues
  • Network with industry professionals and ASHRAE YEA (Young Engineers in ASHRAE) members
  • Hear about the industry’s latest awards, grants and competitions
  • Examine new HVAC equipment, products and technologies from internationally recognized manufacturers
While in Orlando, students also toured the Orange County Convention Center

While in Orlando, students also toured the Orange County Convention Center

“When students have the opportunity to attend these events, they see the reality of where the HVAC industry is, where it’s going, and what they need to do to become sought-out professionals following graduation,” Taft said.

“The knowledge they gain from experiencing nationally-recognized industry events will make them more valuable employees.”

Dunwoody students appreciate learning outside the classroom

Photo of Dunwoody students discussing with other engineering studentsTaft said one of the student’s favorite parts of the trip was participating in the various events offered during the ASHRAE Student Program on Jan 24.

Through the program, Kristofer and Jack—who are both members of Dunwoody’s ASHRAE Student Chapter—were introduced to students from other HVAC programs across the country. Taft said his students appreciated learning how other students were also studying HVAC engineering concepts.

Learn more

This is the fifth year Dunwoody students have attended the event, thanks to financial assistance from the Minnesota ASHRAE Chapter. In 2015, students traveled to Chicago, IL for the conference. The 2017 event will be held in Las Vegas, NV.

Learn more about Heating & Air Conditioning Engineering Technology.

Dunwoody’s Snowplow earns third place in 2016 Autonomous Snowplow Competition

Photo of Dunwoody snowplow at 2016 Autonomous Snowplow CompetitionDunwoody College’s Snow Devil 01102 Snowplow earned third place—and a $2,000 prize—at the 6th annual Institute of Navigation (ION) Autonomous Snowplow Competition held January 28-31 during the Saint Paul Winter Carnival. The team also won the $500 Professor Nattu Sportsmanship Award for the second year in a row.

Dunwoody’s 2016 team—coached by faculty members E.J. Daigle, John McShannock and Alex Wong— included Electronics Engineering Technology students Alan Stafford, Matt Herrick, and Andy Haug; and Automated Systems & Robotics students Ryan Dailey and Dustin Forcier.

Competition aligns with Dunwoody’s approach to education

Photo of Dunwoody snowplow at 2016 Autonomous Snowplow CompetitionAccording to the ION Autonomous Snowplow Competition website: “The purpose of this competition is to challenge university and college students as well as the general public, to design, build, and operate a fully autonomous snowplow to remove snow from a designated path.”

This year, eleven teams from the top engineering universities in the Upper Midwest and Canada participated. Dunwoody’s Robotics & Manufacturing Department is one of just two teams that have been competing in the annual event since it first began in 2011. The College has since taken home several awards, including a third place prize in 2015.

“The competition provides great credit to the application-based engineering culture here at Dunwoody,” Daigle said. “Especially as we prepare to launch new engineering programs over the next 5 years.”

Photo of Dunwoody snowplow at 2016 Autonomous Snowplow CompetitionThe team’s knowledge and experience with the competition appeared to be evident to other teams as well. Daigle said that at one point during the competition, a team announced they were going to quit due to technical difficulties when another team suggested they, “find the Dunwoody guys–they can fix anything.”

Daigle said that the cooperative competition displayed by his team was one of the best parts of this year’s contest.

Final results:

1st place: University of Michigan “Yeti 6.0”

2nd place: Case Western Reserve University “Otto X”

3rd place: Dunwoody College of Technology “Snow Devil 01102

4th place: University of Michigan “Zenith 2.1”

5th place: Case Western Reserve University “Snow Joke”

6th place: North Dakota State University “Thundar 2.0”

7th place: University of St. Thomas “John Snow”

8th place: University of Minnesota “Ground Squirrel”

9th place: University of British Columbia “Snow Flake”

10th place: North Dakota State University “Snow Blight”

11th place: Bemidji State University “BeaverBot”

Heating & Air Conditioning Engineering Technology student receives $2,000 ASHRAE Scholarship

This past summer, representatives from American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) hand-delivered a $2,000 scholarship check to Dunwoody employees. The check was to be awarded at the start of spring semester to a student who showed promise of a successful career in the HVAC&R field.

Dunwoody is pleased to announce that the chosen recipient for the 2016 spring semester ASHRAE scholarship is second-year student Matt Svihel.

Photo of Dunwoody Heating & Air Conditioning Engineering Technology student Matt Svihel

Svihel—who is set to graduate this May—says it is a great feeling to be rewarded for his hard work here at Dunwoody.

Svihel has a 3.83 grade point average (GPA) and is an active member in Dunwoody’s ASHRAE student chapter.

Learn more about Heating & Air Conditioning Engineering Technology.

Two Surveying students benefit from tuition scholarships awarded by VAA

Jake Blue and Brandon Davis are celebrating their recent scholarship awards from long-time Dunwoody College industry partner Van Sickle, Allen & Associates (VAA).

The scholarships—put towards the student’s 2016 spring semester’s tuition—are valued at $2,000 a piece.

The application process

For the past several years, VAA, an engineering, planning and design company, has allocated money specifically for two Dunwoody student scholarships. The scholarships—offered to students in the Architectural Drafting & Design, Surveying & Civil Engineering Technology, Heating & Air Conditioning Engineering Technology and Electrical Construction Design & Management programs—are competitive and require interested students to draft a personal essay, submit a letter of recommendation, and complete an in-person interview with a panel of Dunwoody and VAA employees.

Applicants are then evaluated on academic achievement, school and community activities and work experience. The recipients must have a grade point average (GPA) of 3.2 or higher.

 The scholarship recipients

 This year’s recipients include Jake and Brandon, both second year Surveying & Civil Engineering students, who say they couldn’t be happier with the results.

Photo of Dunwoody Surveying & Civil Engineering student Jake Blue

Dunwoody Surveying & Civil Engineering student Jake Blue

“Winning this scholarship is a wonderful reward for the hard work I have put into my schooling, “ Jake said. “It gives me confidence in the skills I have gained at Dunwoody.”

Jake—who’s pursuing his second professional degree at the College– has a 4.0 GPA and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa and Dunwoody’s Survey Club. Currently, he is a self-employed production arborist.

“As a self-employed student,” he said, “this scholarship is extremely helpful. It will allow me to work less and focus more on my school work.”

Jake plans to seek employment in the Civil Engineering field upon graduation.

Photo of Dunwoody Surveying & Civil Engineering student Brandon Davis

Dunwoody Surveying & Civil Engineering student Brandon Davis

Brandon, who’s currently a student worker at the Minnesota Department of Transportation, says this scholarship will also help him “make ends meet.”

“It’s a great feeling to know that there are people or organizations out there that are willing to sacrifice some of their financial security to help individuals who have found themselves in financial need,” he said.

Brandon is the fundraising officer for Engineers Without Borders and president of both the Dunwoody Surveying Club and the Multicultural Club.

Upon graduation, Brandon hopes to become a professional surveyor.

Learn more

Since receiving their scholarships, Jake and Brandon have also received personal introductions to VAA employees, a full facility tour and a celebratory lunch.

A big thank you to the VAA for their generosity and congratulations to Jake and Brandon!

Learn more about Surveying & Civil Engineering.

Dunwoody places second at NAHB Residential Construction Management Competition

Photo of Dunwoody Construction Project Management team members at 2016 NAHB Residential Construction Management Competition.

Photo courtesy of NAHB Student Chapter’s Facebook page

Congratulations to Construction Management students AJ Flagg; Brett Broekema; Andrew Hoogenakker; Tyler LaBeaux; and Joe Myhre on their second place win at the 2016 National Association of Home Builder’s (NAHB) Residential Construction Management Competition (RCMC). Hoogenakker also received an “NAHB Outstanding Student” award at the event.

The annual competition—part of NAHB’s International Builders’ Show (IBS) —required students to solve real-life construction management problems and present their solutions to a panel of industry representatives.

Fifty-three teams from various universities, technical schools, community colleges and high schools across the nation participated in the competition, which was held in Las Vegas, NV, January 18-20.

Preparing for the competition

Construction Management Program Manager Heather Gay said preparation for the competition began at the start of the 2015 fall semester when the team received basic floor and elevation plans for a single-family residential home. The students’ task was to bring the plans to life through the creation of working construction drawings; labor and materials estimates; a project schedule; and a value engineering option (a detailed plan on ways to reduce construction costs during building).

The goal of the project was for the students to create a full and persuasive proposal on why homebuilders should choose their construction team for the build. The submission was due in late December 2015. Students then presented their proposal to a panel of residential construction experts in Las Vegas at the IBS.

 Students learn valuable, real-world skills

“The entire project really gave the students an overall snapshot of what their job is going to be like when they start their careers as project managers,” said Construction Project Management Instructor Jon Hassenfritz, who also served as the competition coach. “They got to see what all goes into creating the entire package for a client—from concept all the way to the building stages.”

Gay agreed with Jon: “It’s the best method for simulating a real-world experience. Students learn to work with teams, deal with conflicts, meet deadlines, and practice time management; they learn to balance all of those components to create a good end product.”

The College received second place in the Two-Year College category of the competition.

Dunwoody Construction Sciences students have been participating in the competition since 2005, and this is the highest award they have received since 2010.

Full results:

First place: Brigham Young University-Idaho (Rexburg, ID)

Second place: Dunwoody College of Technology (Minneapolis, MN)

Third place: State University of NY at Delhi (Delhi, NY)

Construction Management program receives $60,000 grant

Construction Management Program Manager Heather Gay and Instructor Jon Hassenfritz hold large $60,000 check at the NAHB 2016 Residential Construction Management Competition

Photo courtesy of NAHB Student Chapter’s Facebook page

Dunwoody College of Technology is thrilled to announce the Construction Management program has received a $60,000 grant from the National Housing Endowment Foundation’s Homebuilding Education Leadership Program (HELP).

The National Housing Endowment is a philanthropic arm of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), which aims to increase education and training opportunities for future leaders in the residential construction industry. HELP awards grants to leading colleges and universities in an effort to create or improve residential construction management programs.

“We applied for the grant because we did not have a strong residential construction focus in the classroom,” said Heather Gay, Construction Management Program Manager. “As a result, students weren’t going into the residential field. There was an interest, but we just didn’t have that knowledge in the classroom. This grant, and our program’s recent faculty hires, will change that.”

Specifically, the $60,000 donation will be used to:

  • Train faculty and students to be Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS) and Certified Green Professionals (CGP).
  • Enhance relationships with industry through organized site visits, a lecture series, and various guest speakers/presentations.
  • Increase admissions outreach by targeting high school students in residential construction classes or skilled trades people looking to advance in their career.

Gay said that the outreach plans and any success stories will also be shared with other interested colleges. Gay as well as members of HELP hope that this form of open dialogue will encourage collaboration among all colleges with a residential construction program.

Learn more about Construction Management.