Category Archives: Events

CEO Russ Becker Talks About the Impact of Leadership Development at APi Group

Leadership development is a journey that “takes time, energy, investment and commitment,” said Russell Becker, APi Group, Inc. CEO and President.

 Becker shared the importance of that journey and its overall impact at APi Group, during the Sept. 3 Leadership Lecture at Dunwoody College of Technology. Under Becker’s leadership, APi Group has grown to a $2.5 billion parent company. APi Group includes more than 40 complementary businesses, which provide fire protection and industrial and specialty construction.

 When Becker was promoted to CEO and President he began re-investing in leadership development. “Leadership, and leadership development, has been a huge part of our company, really since I joined the corporate company in 2002,” Becker said.

 As part of the company’s leadership development journey, Becker talked about the importance of first aligning their company values and corporate culture, as well as making sure they had the right leaders in top positions.

“We have 200 locations; each one of those locations needs to have great leadership,” Becker said.

 Becker said leaders at APi are problem solvers who have a sense of urgency. They are results driven and focus on building relationships. The company utilizes the Leadership Institute as well Leader Labs for ongoing training and development. APi also creates individual development plans for its leaders and utilizes a strategic leadership advisor and a Chief Learning Officer.

For APi Group, Becker said he can point to the company’s increased revenue and profitability over the past 13 years as proof that the investment is paying off.

The breakfast lecture series is held the first Thursday of every month and features key executives from the business community, who are invited to speak on a range of leadership topics. The next event will be held at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 3 and will feature Russell Becker, President and CEO of APi Group, Inc. For more information, or to view past events, visit

Dr. Whitney Harris Speaks at 72nd Diversity Forum: Multicultural Student Day

Dr. Whitney Harris Speaks at Diversity ForumAround 30 Dunwoody students, local high school students, and employees attended the 72nd Diversity Forum on Sept. 16, joining Executive Director of Diversity at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Dr. Whitney Harris to celebrate Multicultural Student Day. His talk focused on the importance of being rooted in one’s self and striving toward open-mindedness.

“One thing that most Americans don’t know … is that from the very day this country was founded, we were already the most diverse country in the world, “ Dr. Harris said, “I think there’s a connection between that and some of the things we’ve been able to accomplish as a people.”

To continue moving forward and growing as a people, Dr. Harris encouraged students to sharpen these four diversity skills:

  • Be comfortable with who you are
  • Be comfortable with differences
  • Be comfortable with the ever-changing environment
  • Take Risks

“Diversity is just the guts of this country,” he said, “there is no group here that can claim to have built this country. We all did.”

Diversity Forums, which are held once a month throughout the academic year, help the campus community explore different cultures and various perspectives.

Dr. Whitney Harris poses with President Rich Wagner and Dr. Leo Parvis

From left to right: President Rich Wagner, Dr. Whitney Harris, and Dr. Leo Parvis

October Diversity Forum
The next Diversity Forum will be a Festival of Cultures held at 11:30 a.m. in the McNamara Center on Thursday, Oct. 8.

Computer Technology Department Hosts Summer Arts-n-Crafts, Robots and Computing Camp

Dunwoody’s Computer Technology Department recently hosted an Arts-n-Crafts, Robots and Computing Summer Camp–a weeklong educational camp for junior high school students ranging in grades from 5th – 8th.

Student examining Lego robot

The camp brought 20 students to Dunwoody’s campus where they learned the basics of computing through multiple arts and crafts projects–including the assembly of Lego robots and the creation of their very own interactive, electronic game or phone app.

The games/phone applications, created by either Scratch (a programming language and online community) or App Inventor (a program used to create apps specific for Android phones and tablets,) provided campers with an opportunity to enhance their programming and creativity skills, while experiencing first hand what a career in programming or web development might look likeTwo students working on computers .

“One of the students created a virtual paper doll with changeable outfits,” said Web Programming & Database Development Instructor Paula Merns. “Another created a game where a skydiver caught money as he fell. The logic used in creative ways exactly mimics what programmers do when they get onto a job.”

Student holding Lego robotMerns says the student-designed Lego robot sculptures were also highly interactive. “One team created a ‘Tunneling Robot’ that started upon touch, and then changed lights when it reached the back of a dark space. Another created a robot cat that wagged it’s tail when petted (see picture to the left).”

The campers were also able to explore—and even test—many of Dunwoody’s robotic machines as well as participate in an interactive, electronic scavenger hunt in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

Students watching a robotic demonstration

Dunwoody’s Arts-n-Crafts, Robots and Computing Camp is not only the first of it’s kind for Dunwoody, but also a first for many of the campers, as it combines the world of arts into science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines…turning the popular STEM acronym into STEAM.

“Technology and art work together all around us. This camp gave the campers a chance to play with that intersection,” said Merns.

RStudents outside on a scavenger huntob Bentz, Program Manager of Computer Technology, said, “Ultimately, we chose to run the camp to introduce junior high level kids to technology. There is research, for girls in particular, that shows junior high is where decisions are made to pursue technical or engineering type jobs in the future. We hoped we could persuade a few of our campers to consider just that.”

The camp is expected to run again in summer 2016.

For additional photos of the 2015 camp, visit our Facebook page.

Top Tool CEO Shares Personal and Powerful Message on Leadership

On Thursday, August 6, Elizabeth Abraham shared her personal journey – from an early career as a psychologist to the current CEO and Owner of a precision micro-parts manufacturing company. Abraham was the featured speaker in August for the C. Charles Jackson Leadership Lecture Series at Dunwoody College of Technology.

Abraham speaking Abraham related her powerful personal story to a series of leadership lessons ranging from learning from your mistakes to surrounding yourself with a great team.

A licensed psychologist, Abraham grew up in New England and taught at the Chicago Medical School in the 1970s. She also did small business consulting and taught Marketing & Small Business Development at the University of St. Thomas and at the Carlson School of Management. All of those experiences helped shape her leadership values, which have become part of the Top Tool culture.

Founded in 1966, Top Tool Company was a tool and die shop that created precision progressive dies, which manufactures used to make metal parts for electronic devices and other products. After purchasing the company with her husband in 1987, Abraham diversified the company into metal stamping and manufacturing of precision micro-parts and has seen annual double-digit growth since 2010. Top Tool has also steadily gained new customers in the defense and medical device industries.

Abraham believes strongly in giving back and has served on numerous boards, including the Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association and the Minnesota Manufacturer’s Coalition of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. She was also a founding member of the Women Leaders in Manufacturing Council.

For her leadership and advocacy of the manufacturing industry, Abraham received the “American Eagle Award” from the Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association. She was also named an “Industry Leader of the Year” by the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal.

Abraham & Ylinen smiling

The breakfast lecture series is held the first Thursday of every month and features key executives from the business community, who are invited to speak on a range of leadership topics. The next event will be held at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 3 and will feature Russell Becker, President and CEO of APi Group, Inc. For more information, or to view past events, visit:

Robotics & Manufacturing Department Hosts Summer STEM Camp

Dunwoody’s Robotics & Manufacturing department hosted the College’s first ever STEM Camp June 23-25.

Group shot of STEM Camp students

The camp—sponsored by Boston Scientific—introduced STEM programs/careers like mechanical, civil, electrical, software and industrial engineering to 37 high school juniors and seniors.

Student wiring electronic flashlight During the camp, students were able to participate in group lectures and brainstorming exercises, watch faculty-led demonstrations and explore the College’s classrooms and campus. Campers also engaged in multiple hands-on activities including bridge building and testing; designing, 3D printing and wiring a flashlight; creating a software business plan for a food truck business; and a large Lego manufacturing simulation led by Boston Scientific engineers (pictured below.)

STEM camp students working on a Lego manufacturing simulation The 3-day camp also covered topics in science, physics and mathematics.

“It’s important for students interested in STEM to understand all of the options available to them,” Industrial Engineering Technology Principle Instructor and camp coordinator Janet Nurnberg said. “And although this camp just scratched the surface of STEM opportunities, we are excited to help students along their journey of exploring their future career options.”

Janet says the Robotics & Manufacturing Department has plans to run the camp again next summer.

For additional photos of the 2015 camp, visit our Facebook page.

Dunwoody’s Midwest Robotics League Team Takes 1st in Regionals, 5th in Nationals

Dunwoody College of Technology students and faculty are celebrating the recent victories of the College’s Midwest Robotics League Team. The Dunwoody team participated in both a regional competition in late April, and a national competition in May, bringing home a consecutive first and two fifth place prizes.

Group shot of Dunwoody's Midwest Robotics Team League

The 2015 team (pictured above) is advised by former Dunwoody student and league participant–now Instructor and League Executive Director–Alex Wong and coaches Beth Spicer; Al Jaedike (Engineering Drafting & Design Adjunct Instructor); and James Jorgenson (Workforce Training & Continuing Education Adjunct Instructor).

The team includes students Chris Spicer (Electrical Construction & Maintenance); Andy Haug (Electronics Engineering Technology); Ken Weis (Machine Tool Technology); Tony Laylon (Engineering Drafting & Design); Kyle Dumas; and 2007 Dunwoody graduate Mike Rhode (Engineering Drafting & Design).

This year’s regional competition was held at the Mall of America and featured twelve competing teams and hundreds of spectators. The national competition followed just a few weeks later in Cleveland, Ohio, where 64 teams participated.

Crowd at Mall of America watching robot battles

Midwest Robotics League’s regional competition at Mall of America

Both the regional and national competitions are held annually and are open to middle school, high school and collegiate teams. Each year, the competing teams are able to enter as many robots as they want under the condition that the robots have been designed and assembled by students. Teams can also use a robot for multiple years until the group decides to retire it or until that robot wins the regional or national competition two times.

This year, Dunwoody entered two robots into both competitions— “Wedgey” the wedge robot and “Reburn,” a robot that deploys a horizontal spinner.

Robot Wedgey

“Wedgey” the wedge robot

Both Wedgey and Reburn were designed and built by the Dunwoody team and have already competed and placed in several regional and national competitions.

“Wedgey has been running for about 3 years, competing in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 events,” said League Executive Director Alex Wong. “Reburn has also been running for about 3 years, but we have been running variations on this design since the start of the League.”

Robot Reburn


The League is open to all Dunwoody students, creating a unique opportunity for students in various programs to work together–each bringing  their own area of expertise to the process. And while the students enjoy the collaboration in designing and creating the robots, perhaps the most fun is had during the combat competitions.

The combat rules are similar for both regionals and nationals—the best robot wins.

“The robots are limited to 15 pounds each, and it is up to the students to design those robots,” said Alex. “A lot of them will have some sort of spinning weapon or use bigger motors so it can drive faster.”

Each robot is then entered into a randomly determined double elimination bracket where they participate in 3-minute rounds.

“The winner,” said Alex “is whichever robot can either “knock out”the other robot by disabling it, or pushes it onto a wall or other position where it can no longer drive. If both robots are still standing after the three-minute match, the winner is determined by whichever robot has the most points. The judges award points based on three categories: aggression—the moves you make when attacking the other robot; damage—the damage caused to the other robot; and control—how well the robot can maneuver.”

Action shot of robots combatting

In addition to combat points, the national judges also evaluate the team’s presentation skills. Prior to the competition, each team must also present their robot to the panel of judges by sharing drawings, describing the design process and explaining why they chose the materials they did.

Regional final award/trophyDunwoody’s students and robots performed well at both competitions ending their season with  several wins and awards. Wedgey scored the team a 1st place prize at the regional competition for the second time in its career. It also tied with Reburn for the fifth overall spot at the national competition. Wedgey was also named one of the “Best Engineered Robots” at the national competition.

The Dunwoody Midwest Robotics League will continue next Fall during the 2015-2016 academic year. Alex says the team has plans to retire Wedgey (as this was its second regional win) and is looking to redesign the current robots as well as build entirely new ones.

If you are interested in joining the Midwest Robotics League for 2015-2016 season, please contact Alex Wong at

From Hard Work to Teamwork: Architect Dale Mulfinger Delivers Leadership Lecture

Award-winning architect Dale Mulfinger, FAIA, talked about the value of teamwork during the recent Leadership Lecture event held at Dunwoody College of Technology.Mulfinger speaking

“You don’t need to hit a homerun,” Mulfinger said. “You just need to get on base and let your team do the rest.”

Mulfinger also emphasized the values of hard work, excellence and building positive relationships when he shared how the principles of leadership expert and author John C. Maxwell relate to his work as the Founding Partner and Principal Emeritus of SALA Architects, Inc.

Mulfinger and Dunwoody President Richard WagnerThe author of five books, including “The Architecture of Edwin Lundie” and “The Cabin,” Mulfinger was the featured speaker for the June 4 C. Charles Jackson Leadership Lecture Series event.

The breakfast lecture series is held the first Thursday of every month and features key executives from the business community, who are invited to speak on a range of leadership topics. The next event will be held at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 6 and will feature Elizabeth Abraham, Owner and CEO of Top Tool Co. For more information, or to view past events, visit


Leadership Lecture Series Brings Fabcon CEO & President Michael LeJeune to Campus

CEO & President of Fabcon Companies Michael (Mike) LeJeune presented at the College’s latest Leadership Lecture Series event on May 7, 2015. The series—offered the first Thursday of every month—has brought several prominent speakers to campus to speak on a variety of leadership topics.

The premise LeJeune smilingof Mike’s presentation was the “Importance of Corporate Culture” and what leaders can do to create a successful one.

Mike began his presentation by sharing the progression of his professional life with the audience, highlighting some of the challenges he first began to experience during his early years with Fabcon. Mike explained that after years of trying to find the root of the problem, he realized it was something much bigger than he was expecting: it was the overall culture of the organization.

“The most important thing I can do as a CEO is create a corporate culture where everyone can succeed,” Mike said.

Crowd attending lecture

Mike’s decision to shift the corporate culture of Fabcon ultimately shaped a set of important guidelines he and his employees now follow–something they call “the Fabcon way”:

  1. Keep your integrity.
  2. Focus on what is right instead of what is wrong.
  3. Say thank you.
  4. Treat everyone with respect.
  5. Focus on the process, not the person.
  6. Really listen.
  7. Know it’s okay to make a mistake.
  8. Explain why you want someone to do something; share with them the big picture.
  9. Celebrate success.
  10. Have fun.

Mike explained that by following this simple but effective list of corporate ethics, Fabcon—and its employees—have emerged stronger and more successful than ever. He hopes his story and these tips encourage organizational leaders in a similar situation to do the same.

LeJeune smiling with event attendees

The Leadership Lecture Series continues with Dale Mulfinger, FAIA Principal Emeritus, SALA Architects, Inc. Thursday, June 4 at 7:30 a.m. RSVP to