Category Archives: Dunwoody in the News

Architecture students place 2nd, 3rd in 2016 Skills USA State Competition

Photo of Eli Abnet

Eli Abnet at 2016 SkillsUSA Minnesota

Architecture students Eli Abnet and Charles Evans Bille placed 2nd and 3rd respectively at the 2016 SkillsUSA Minnesota Competition, which was held earlier this month at various locations throughout the Twin Cities including Dunwoody campus.

SkillsUSA—a national organization made of students, educators and industry representatives working to provide America with skilled workers—regulates the competitions, which are held annually at the local/state, national and global level.

Photo of Charles Evans

Charles Evans Bille at 2016 SkillsUSA Minnesota

During the contest, Abnet and Bille participated in a short written exam, a hand drafting exercise, and a computer-drafting project. The competition aims to test students’ problem-solving abilities as well as their drafting techniques.

Get involved

The College has been participating and placing in SkillsUSA competitions for many years, with students earning gold in 2015 and 2013.

If you are interested in joining the 2017 SkillsUSA team, please contact Associate Director of Career Services Rob Borchardt at 612.381.3322 or rborchardt@dunwoody.edu.

About SkillsUSA

According to mnskillsusa.org: SkillsUSA Minnesota is part of a national organization that serves over a quarter million student members annually, organized into more than 14,700 chapters and 54 state and territorial associations (including Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands). The Minnesota Association has offered leadership opportunities to over 200,000 student members since 1967, with a current annual membership of over 3,000. There are chapters in 29 technical colleges and 50 high schools or cooperative centers, with potential to serve many more. SkillsUSA is governed by a Board of Directors, elected from teachers that advise local chapters, and representing both the high school and college divisions and industry representatives. All programs are offered as integral to the curriculum.

Two Interior Design students design show sets for Northwest Community Television

Photo of Angelica Sedano and Alyx Paschke

L to R: Angelica Sedano and Alyx Paschke

Late last year, Northwest Community Television (NWCT)—a non-profit organization that offers free production classes, equipment use, and channel time to those in the northwestern suburbs of the Twin Cities—realized they needed a change.

“Our current TV sets were outdated, falling apart, and overdue for an overhaul,” Studio Manager Nikki Jackett said.

And as the 2015 fiscal year was coming to a close, Jackett realized they had some dollars left in their budget. So, she chose to put that money towards set renovation.

A perfect match

“We only had six weeks to get ideas together and the money spent,” Jackett said.

Photo of existing NWCT set

NWCT set prior to remodel.

“Knowing design is not in my wheelhouse and having a limited budget, I asked my boss if I could reach out to students to work with. I’ve had good experiences working with students in the past. I love their energy and eagerness.”

When searching for the students, Jackett said she “never looked beyond Dunwoody.”

“I’ve always heard good things about the school, so it was the first and only one I emailed,” she said.

And when senior Interior Design students Alyx Paschke and Angelica Sedano learned of the project, they knew they had to be involved.

“Set design is something that has always interested me,” Paschke said. “I’m going to grad school for themed entertainment design so this project was very closely aligned with what I am hoping to do.”

The design process

Due to the wide variety of shows offered by NWCT—which includes talk shows, sports shows, children shows, cooking lessons and craft demonstrations—Paschke said, “versatility was a major aspect in the design concept.”

Photo of existing NWCT sets and photo of what they would like after the remodel.

Paschke and Sedano used SketchUp—3D modeling software they use for class projects at Dunwoody— to generate ideas for the new sets.

“We decided it would give us the most for our budget to repurpose and reuse many of the existing sets and set elements,” she said.

And while the students did have complete design freedom, there were some limitations.

“The sets had to be mobile, lightweight, and easily assembled and deconstructed for transportation to and from the set storage warehouse,” Paschke said. “We also had an extremely small budget for all of the sets, construction supplies, finishes, furniture and décor, which allowed us to get creative.”

Paschke and Sedano used SketchUp—3D modeling software they use for class projects at Dunwoody—to design the sets. Here they finalized the set colors, furniture pieces and design budget. Then, they set out to purchase the supplies.

“It felt a little bit like an HGTV show,” Paschke laughed as she described their overflowing carts at Ikea.

In an effort to keep the costs down, the students also approached several industry partners for help—and were successful in doing so.

Example of what a set would look like after the remodelSherwin-Williams agreed to donate the paint for the sets, and representatives from Shakopee Lowes Home Improvement provided budget guidance. Prime General Contractors also helped with transportation.

Thanks to their generosity, the two students were able to stay under-budget and upgrade six existing sets and the station’s kitchen.

The final product

Photo of one of the final sets

One of the final sets designed by Paschke and Sedano.

For Paschke and Sedano, however, the best part of the process was actually seeing the project come to life.

Paschke explained: “As students, a lot of the time we design and we do the 3D renderings—but that’s as far as we get. So it was really fun to see our work actually constructed.”

“It was our first real project like this so it was a little intimidating,” Sedano said. “But we worked together with everyone really well. It was nice to have our first project be with great people.”

Photo of Paschke and Sedano

Paschke and Sedano at the NWCT Open House.

Jackett agreed: “Throughout the entire process, Alyx and Angelica demonstrated an unbelievable passion for design and a keen understanding of what it means to meet the expectations laid forth while also looking outside of the box in exuding their own creativity. I can’t wait for the next opportunity to work with them and recommend them to others.”

According to NWCT’s latest newsletter, this is the Station’s first remodel since the media center opened in 1998. NWCT displayed the newly renovated sets at an Open House event late last month.

Paschke and Sedano will graduate this May with a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design.

Learn more about Dunwoody’s Interior Design program.

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.

Dunwoody ranked #1 in Minnesota in Brookings Institution earnings data college scorecard

College rankings are often met with a mixture of eagerness, nervousness and disdain by U.S. higher education institutions. Depending on how the data is collected and evaluated, the ranking of colleges and universities can vary widely. What’s more, rankings often don’t account for institutional differences in mission and student population. And, of course, no matter how high or low, no ranking can accurately predict or describe the individual educational experiences of our students.

For a unique institution like Dunwoody — the only private, not-for-profit technical college in the Upper Midwest — traditional college rankings are especially a double-edged sword. They often reward institutional activity that the College simply isn’t going to engage in because of its specific educational philosophy and mission. Which is why a recent report by the Brooking Institution was a pleasant surprise. Titled Using earnings data to rank colleges: A value-added approach updated with College Scorecard data, the report focuses on earnings of graduates plus other indicators that are likely to lead to a high value-added education for students.

The report is based on the Obama administration’s College Scorecard database as well as other data sources and assigns colleges a score based on “Value-added to median student earnings 10 years after enrollment of 2001-02” with the top score possible being 100.

Dunwoody College of Technology received a score of 94 out of 100 — the highest of any college or university in Minnesota.

The full methodology and list of rankings can be found on the Brookings Institution website.

In general, technical colleges scored well in this particular ranking, which is not a surprise considering that an applied education generally leads into a specific, often well-paying career path. But as report author Jonathan Rothwell notes, “there will always be serious imperfections to any effort to assess college quality. People are not randomly assigned to colleges and differ in important ways that will remain unobservable to any researcher.”

Those unobservable differences are exactly why we talk about our accomplished alumni so much and why we understand that Dunwoody’s rigorous, industry-focused, applied education is not for every student.

Since 1914, Dunwoody’s pioneering hands-on, applied education has provided students with the skills they need to have a rewarding career. It will continue to do so while it also works to improve in all areas of its mission to changes 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 best way to understand Dunwoody is to visit our campus, meet our faculty and staff, and tour our classrooms, labs, shops and studios. Call us at 612-374-5800 to arrange a campus tour or RSVP for one of our monthly open houses.

Minnesota Multi Housing Association awards Construction Project Management student with MADACS Award

Construction Project Management student and WITC Scholarship recipient Marydithe Edgerton holding MADACS awardCongratulations to Construction Project Management student and WITC Scholarship recipient Marydithe Edgerton, who was recently awarded with a Multi housing Achievement in Design, Advertising and Community Support (MADACS) Award in Individual Maintenance.

The Award—given annually by the Minnesota Multi Housing Association (MHA)—recognizes an individual who independently manages the maintenance of an apartment building while also making significant contributions to the progression of the multi housing industry.

The MHA is a state-wide, non profit organization with over 2,000 members representing more than 250,000 housing units.

A better life

Earlier this year, Edgerton applied for Dunwoody’s Women in Technical Careers Scholarship, which provides financial, academic and personal support to women pursuing a non-traditional career.

Edgerton, who graduated high school in 2010, said it was a “no-brainer” to go back to school—the difficult part was figuring out how to balance five days of work and four nights of class each week.

But, “I knew I had to go to college to make a living,” she said.

So, a few months later, when Edgeton learned she was not only accepted into Dunwoody but had also received the scholarship, she knew it was time to go back.

Edgerton is now halfway through her first semester in the Construction Project Management program.

Despite now being a full-time student, Edgerton still helps manage The Lamoreaux apartment complex, an affordable housing building in Minneapolis. Her responsibilities range from replacing drywall, to fixing a leaky faucet, to helping set up cable TV. Edgerton also confirms that the apartment’s lights work, doors lock, and the carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are on—ensuring the building is a clean and safe place to live. 

The nomination process
The Lamoreaux Apartments. Photo credit to www.aeonmn.org/properites/lamoreaux

The Lamoreaux Apartments. Photo credit to www.aeonmn.org/properites/lamoreaux

Edgerton’s supervisors nominated her for the award this past spring, impressed by her consistent dedication to the building. Over the summer, MHA Judges visited the apartment complex where Edgerton showed them the building, explained her responsibilities, and participated in a formal Q&A. Edgerton discovered she won the award in late September.

“Winning this award means a lot to me,” Edgerton said. “Especially because I have only been in maintenance for about a year and a half.”

“Since then, I have put so much of myself into this building. Not only in the pride I take in it, but also on behalf of all the residents that live here. They know that I am here to help them. I don’t ignore them or discount their opinions. I work with them as much as I can because, after all, this is their home.”

Edgerton will graduate with an associate’s degree in Construction Project Management in Spring of 2017. She hopes to continue her career in affordable housing as a Project Manager—preferably at Aeon, the company she currently works for.

Learn more about Construction Project Management or Women in Technical Careers.

Auto Instructor Lonny Lunn Receives Instructor Recognition Award

Congratulations to Senior Automotive Instructor Lonny Lunn, a 2015 recipient of the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Industry Education Alliance Instructor Recognition Award!

Lonny holding award.

The ASEIEA award is used to recognize instructors who have gone above and beyond in helping their students and advancing their career in technical education.

To achieve this recognition, instructors must meet a number of criteria, including at least five years of teaching experience; documented attendance at instructor training events; a history of placing students in work-based learning assignments; and ASE Master Certification in the area in which they teach.

Lonny talking with student next to car.

“Receiving this award is a great honor,” said Lunn. “Being with the students is the best part of my job. I enjoy nothing more than that learning moment—that moment when I see something click with my students.”

Lunn has been with Dunwoody since 2002. He currently manages the Honda Professional Auto Career Training (PACT) program.

Sewing Program Featured on PBS Documentary Series Dropping Back In

Dunwoody College’s partnership with the Makers Coalition will again be featured on the PBS documentary series Dropping Back In.

ThSewing students at work.e five-episode series illustrates the enormous personal and societal costs to students who drop out of high school, and how successful training-based programs—such as those offered by Dunwoody—can help counter those losses.

Dunwoody’s Dean of Workforce Training & Continuing Education Debra Hanson (Kerrigan) as well as two sewing program graduates are featured in the fifth episode of the series “Building A Better Future.”

Two sewing students examining project.

“Building A Better Future” will air Sunday, Sept. 27, at 7:30 p.m. on Twin Cities Public Television (tpt), with repeats on October 3 and 4. Pioneer Public Television (KWCM) will run the show on September 27 and 29.

If you can’t catch the documentary those evenings, the full show can also be found here: