Category Archives: Industry Partners

Architecture students to design dining hall for Steger Wilderness Center

Renowned adventurer Will Steger to play key role in the design process.
Photo of Steger Wilderness Center

The Steger Wilderness Center, located in Ely, MN.

Architecture Instructor Molly Reichert had quite a surprise for third year Architecture students this fall semester: a chance to work with prominent wilderness adventurer and conservationist Will Steger.

Students were asked to help design and build a brand new dining hall for the Steger Wilderness Center, an earth-friendly building devoted to sustainability education and climate change solution. The dining hall, the latest step in the completion of the Center, will serve as a gathering place where center guests can eat, read, study, socialize, and meet. The dining space will be solar-powered and feature a full kitchen and rotating chefs.

Week-long studio prepares students for project

Students began the semester-long project earlier this year by spending a week up in Ely, MN, home of the Center. Completely “off the grid”, students spent their time touring the space, meeting with Will and Center staff, and fleshing out design ideas for the project.

Photo of Dunwoody students camping at the Steger Wilderness Center

Dunwoody students camping on the site of the proposed dining hall

The Dunwoody group even camped out on the site where the dining hall will be built to gain a better understanding of how the land worked in relation to the rest of the Center.

At the end of the studio, Reichert said it became very clear to her that the students were not only impressed with the space, but also with their client.

“It was very interesting and eye-opening for students to see the capacity that Will—just one person—has,” Reichert said. “From going on arctic expeditions, to designing buildings, building buildings, working on policy work and educating—I think they were all very inspired by him.”

“Many of the students described the experience as broadening, which I think is such a beautiful way to think about something.”

Final building designs to be presented in December
Photo of where the dining hall will be built in relation to the rest of the Center

Proposed dining hall program diagram

Since the studio, students have primarily been working on documentation, including gathering information on Will’s vision, zoning constraints, building codes for the area, kitchen requirements, etc. But now, Reichert said, they are ready enter the schematic design portion of the project.

“It was quite funny because everyone was so inspired and interested in Will and this project that it was hard keeping everyone at bay and to not get into design and to just focus on research and documentation. So, I think everyone is really chomping at the bit to just dig in. They can’t wait to get started.”

Reichert explained that students will have to learn how to design to the constraints and mission of the Center. This means taking into account the harsh winters and freezing temperatures of northern MN. The design of the building must also reflect the local ecosystem and speak to the other structures that are part of the Steger Wilderness Center. The entire design process is expected to take several weeks.

Photo of Will Steger at Dunwoody College working with students on design possibilities for the dining hall

Will Steger at Dunwoody College working with students on design possibilities for the dining hall

At the end of the semester, students will present their final designs to Will, who will then choose several designs, or portions of those designs, to move forward with. The final building design will be dependent on funding and community support.

The hope is to break ground as early as 2018.

Learn more  

This is the first design studio in the 5-year Bachelor of Architecture degree at Dunwoody. The course aims to introduce students to the importance of site and precedent in relationship to architecture.

Learn more about Dunwoody Architecture.

Monitor the project’s progress.


Construction Management student McBonn B Njankenji shares personal story on what led him to Dunwoody

McBonn Njaneknji McBonn B. Njankenji, a sophomore in Dunwoody’s Construction Management program, wasn’t always planning on going to college for construction—let alone college in the United States.

Born in Bamenda, Cameroon, growing up Njankenji and his family did not have much in terms of money; his mother never finished high school and his father didn’t attend college.

Things changed, however, when Njankenji turned 10, and he and his family decided to move to the United States in search of a better life and a better future. But, because of their history of financial difficulties, Njankenji said he felt pressure to pursue ambitious, high-paying careers.

“I was trapped in a world where my mother wanted me to be a doctor and my father wanting me to be an engineer,” he said.

Njankenji explained he tried pursuing both careers, but quickly found he didn’t enjoy or excel at either one. What he did find enjoyment in, however, was construction—a career path his father had also followed.

Finding his passion

“I fell in love with it,” Njankenji recalled. “I would ride with my father to job sites, and I loved seeing the smiles on the owners’ faces after a job was completed.”

Njankenji knew he wanted to be a project manager, but when it came time to finding the right college, he said he was surprised by how few schools offered a comprehensive Construction Management program.

“There weren’t a lot of schools that focused on Construction Management like Dunwoody,” he said. “I remember going online [to the Dunwoody website] with my father and seeing classes like estimating, drafting, and all sorts of courses that broadly exposed anyone new to the construction field.”

It was Dunwoody’s in-depth, hands-on approach to education that sealed the deal for Njankenji and his family. So, despite living in Maryland at the time, Njankenji chose to move to Minnesota and enroll at Dunwoody College of Technology.

Hard work pays off

Njankenji has since found much success at the College. He worked as a Field Engineer Intern for PCL Construction last summer and has received several scholarships along the way.

Most recently, he received the 2016 Foundation Scholarship, an award given annually by the Builders Association of the Twin Cities, which helps students pursuing a Residential Construction education in the Twin Cities with their tuition costs.

Njankenji said it’s scholarships like these that help make his dream of attending college a reality.

“I don’t regret this move,” he said. “I moved all the way from Maryland to get the most out of my education, and Dunwoody has helped with that. I am honored to be granted this scholarship and am glad I have organizations like BATC to support me every step of the way.

“Thank you for this wonderful opportunity to let me shine.”

Learn more

Learn more about Construction Management.

For more information on scholarships available to Dunwoody students, contact

Dunwoody takes 2nd in 2016 American Solar Challenge

The Dunwoody/Buhler Team

The Dunwoody/Buhler Team

Dunwoody/Buhler Apprenticeship program allows students to work at Buhler, attend classes at Dunwoody, and even race solar-powered cars.

Dunwoody students/Buhler Apprentices have spent the last few weeks traveling the country with a solar-powered car they helped to build. The students competed in the 2016 American Solar Challenge (ASC) July 22 – Aug. 6, earning second place.

8 days; 1,971 miles

The Challenge—which began in 1990—consists of a three-day track race and an eight-day, 1,975 mile road race through seven states. Students began in Brecksville, OH and travel to Hot Springs, SD, stopping at several checkpoints along the way.

Solar car on the roadThis year, checkpoints were located at nine national parks and historic sites—including the Ulysses S Grant National Historic Site (St Louis, MO), Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site (Topeka, KS) and Scotts Bluff National Monument (Gering, NE)—helping to celebrate the National Park Service’s centennial.

Students taking a break from traveling to charge the car

Students taking a break from traveling to charge the car

The 2016 Dunwoody/Buhler team consisted of Electrical Construction & Maintenance Principal Instructor and Dunwoody team coordinator Steven Lee; Buhler Apprenticeship Training Coordinator Daniel Roth; Adjunct Instructor Gary Reiman; as well as members of Dunwoody and Buhler’s American Apprenticeship program, including Michael Klaas; Andrew Hohn; Alex Peden; Austin Carline; MacKenzie Ritchie; Nate Sharp; Justin Mestler; Vlad Lelyukh; Dominic Lemke; Michael Cenin; Marc Guillet; Sam Nogosek; and Isa Brady.

Several members of Buhler’s Swiss Apprenticeship program also joined.

“Buhler has been involved in other solar races around the world and the solar car that we used was actually originally built by them for one of those races,” Lee explained. “The apprentice students made modifications to the car so it met requirements for the 2016 American Solar Challenge.”

Together, the Dunwoody/Buhler team traveled a total of 1,971.5 miles in 59 hours, 30 minutes, and 22 seconds.

Students with their solar carBuhler/Dunwoody partnership

Dunwoody and Buhler’s American Apprenticeship program helps supply well-trained grads to Buhler, a global market leader in mechanical and thermal process engineering technologies.

The program allows students to attend Dunwoody classes, while also working at Buhler’s Plymouth, MN, location.

Final results

1: Michigan
2: Dunwoody
3: Toronto
4: Missouri S&T
5: Principia
6: Appalachian State
7: Iowa State
8: ETS Quebec
9: Berkeley
10: Minnesota and Poly Montreal
11: Illinois State
12: Kentucky

See final times. 

Photo Credit: Samuel Rhyner

Student-designed furniture, home office to be displayed at 2016 MSP Home & Design Show

Dunwoody partnership sparks scholarship, real-world experience for five Interior Design students.

Interior Design Students Maggie Ellsworth, Alex Lord, Lise Hanley, Lydia Faison, and Megan Augustine have been quite busy this summer—building their skills, their portfolio, and their own furniture.

Photo of Home & Design Show Logo

The five senior students will present design ideas and several work samples at the very first MSP Home & Design Show, a new event where attendees can learn of the latest trends in interior design and home improvement.

The Dunwoody group will manage a feature booth during the show, where they will demonstrate how they would design a modern home office. Hand-crafted furniture and additional design work created by the students will also be on display and available for bidding/purchase.

Photo of Alex Lord presenting on a final project

Alex Lord presenting design solutions to faculty and industry professionals during Fall 2015 finals week

“The show is a wonderful opportunity for the future graduates because it gives them a great deal of exposure,” Interior Design Principal Instructor Sarraf-Knowles said. “It’s an opportunity to show off their talents and the skills that they’ve learned. It will also add a great component to their portfolio, which will really assist them when they go out and interview.” 

In addition to the professional exposure, the five participating students will also receive a scholarship from the MSP Home & Design Show.

“We wanted to partner with a reputable organization in the community that we feel could also offer something unique to the MSP Home & Design Show,” said Bruce Evans, Show Manager.

“We are committed to giving back…The scholarship is something we see being a staple within the show for years to come and hopefully [so will] the recipients,” he said.

Show promises networking, demonstrations, and celebrity guests

A first-time event for the students and the community, the show promises attendees a unique setting where they can:

  • Photo of Celebrity Guest Speaker John Gidding (photo courtesy of MSP Home & Design Show)

    Celebrity Guest Speaker John Gidding (photo courtesy of MSP Home & Design Show)

    Learn of upcoming interior design trends

  • Meet with design professionals
  • See guest celebrity John Gidding, HGTV Architect and Interior Designer
  • Become inspired by household décor items
  • Participate in interactive and educational demonstrations
  • Support Dunwoody’s Interior Design program and its future graduates

In addition to these fun events, the Dunwoody students will also be presenting on the evolution of a home office—a popular topic in the industry right now.

Student’s take on a home office might surprise guests

“We are doing research on the impacts of home offices nowadays. Currently, there are a lot of traditional companies that are eliminating the desks and telling their employees to actually work offsite at their home. This saves the company money on real estate, but also allows the employee a lot more flexibility.”

Photo of student-designed floor lamp

A student-designed floor lamp presented during Fall 2015 finals week

Because of these changes, Sarraf-Knowles said the feature home office will “look different than the standard or typical home office.” Instead, students will consider furniture flexibility (changing one piece of furniture into another); technology changes; and the various types of home office uses, workers, and needs.

The office will tentatively feature a student-built desk, light fixture, lounge chair, storage device, and coffee table. Students will also explore aesthetic pieces like backdrops and ceiling elements.

Learn more

The MSP Home & Design show takes place Sept. 30 – Oct. 2, 2016, at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Learn more about Interior Design.

Interior Design Summer Camp challenges perceptions of profession

Dunwoody Interior Design opened its classrooms to 11 high school students at the College’s first-ever Interior Design Summer Camp late last month.

Photo of Interior Design campers

Sarraf-Knowles, Interior Design Principal Instructor and Camp Coordinator, said the camp was created to help challenge students’ assumptions of what an Interior Designer actually does.

“I wanted people to understand that it takes a lot to actually do a project. It’s not just moving furniture around or choosing some colors,” she said. “It’s way more than that. There’s a lot of gathering information, connecting and interviewing with a client, and developing an actual design solution.”

To better show this to the students, Sarraf-Knowles developed a hands-on, interactive project that would allow them to actually experience the creative design process—something Interior Designers typically do when given a project.

Interior Design is more than one might expect

Photo of a "brainstorming wall" where campers posted ideas, graphics, notes for design inspiration. On day one of the camp, campers were asked to create a hypothetical exhibit space for a real-life fashion designer. The exhibit had to be realistic, original but practical, and incorporate the designer’s actual branding.

Students began the project by researching the designer and working on an overall design concept. This required the campers to experiment with colors, patterns, materials, technology, and lighting. The students then created a 3-D protoype of the room, and presented their final project and design solution to Dunwooody faculty and industry professionals.

“The project was very similar to what our students would be expected to do here on campus,” Sarraf-Knowles said.

Exploring Interior Design career paths, employers

Photo of campers listening to a lecture at Dunwoody.When students weren’t working on their displays, they were out exploring possible education and career paths. Campers toured Dunwoody’s Interior Design classrooms, experimented with materials in the Design Library, and explored the College’s fabrication lab and print and packaging lab.

Students were also given the opportunity to tour and meet with professionals from HDR Architecture, a local Architecture firm, and Fluid Interiors, a furniture design shop and dealership.

While touring HDR Architecture, campers met with HDR’s Interior Designer and learned how Architects and Interior Designers work together—particularly at an Architectural firm.

At Fluid Interiors, students learned how Interior Designers work with companies to simplify and customize their workspaces. Campers were able to explore the organization’s many showrooms, giving them an inside look at the types of furniture and light structures designers create and use.

Both visits illustrated the day-to-day responsibilities, projects, and work spaces of an Interior Designer.

Photo of campers by their finished 3D prototype of a fashion boutique. “I hope campers ultimately learned what the profession of Interior Design actually is, including what an Interior Design degree is, what can you do with that degree, and what that degree is like here at Dunwoody,” Sarraf-Knowles said.

Learn more

This is the first time the College has offered an Interior Design summer camp. Sarraf-Knowles plans to run a similar camp again next summer. To be notified of the 2017 camp, please contact Sarraf-Knowles at

Learn more about Interior Design.

Need for women in trade careers inspires Rosie’s Girls Summer Camp

Middle-school girls explore STEM programs, professions with Dunwoody instructors.

Rosie’s Girls— a summer day-camp inspired by a program started by Vermont Works for Women and Girl Scout camp programming—launched its first-ever Minnesota camp at Dunwoody College late last month. The camp was held in partnership with Girl Scouts River Valleys.

Photo of all of Rosie's Girls

More than 40 middle-school girls attended, building their awareness of—and their experience with—STEM-related higher education programs and careers. The camp comes at a time when skilled trade jobs, especially those within the construction industry, are in need of more women workers.

Building trades need more women workers

Photo of girl building in the construction lab

Photo Credit: Girl Scouts River Valleys

“Our demographic is nine percent women and 91 percent men, so we need to make that change,” said Heather Gay, Construction Management Program Manager, in a recent Kare 11 interview.

Electrical Construction & Maintenance Principal Instructor Polly Friendshuh attributes those low numbers to a lack of exposure of STEM programs and careers to young students—especially women.

“By high school, most students have already chosen or have some idea of the direction they are going upon graduation—and most of those students never have any exposure to the construction trades,” she said.

“This camp provides that before they have a pre-conceived idea of what they want to go into and perhaps will spark the idea that there are many pathways available to them.”

Girls learn to build, weld, and wire at Rosie’s Girls

Photo of girls holding their Little Free Library

Photo Credit: Girl Scouts River Valleys

During the camp, the girls were able to participate in a wide array of hands-on, STEM-related projects, including building Little Free Libraries; welding sculptures; and wiring a switch, light and receptacle. For two weeks, campers were able to accurately see what a career in carpentry, welding, electrical wiring, drafting and design, or surveying could be like.

“It’s important for young girls to get exposed to the trades and skills early on so that they know it’s a career path,” Gay said in a KARE 11 interview.

Rosie’s Girls sparks confidence

When girls weren’t exploring Dunwoody labs and equipment, they were participating in other physical activities like rock climbing, archery, and team building games. Campers also worked on their leadership skills, participated in arts activities, and learned how to successfully work and communicate as a group.

Photo of girls holding power tools

Photo Credit: Girl Scouts River Valleys

Girl Scouts River Valleys’ staff noted that “by offering girls a chance to ‘do things’—particularly things they or the adults in their lives may not have believed were appropriate for girls to do—the Rosie’s Girls Program seeks to reverse the downward trajectory in girls’ self confidence.”

Friendshuh, who led a number of camp activities, said that not surprisingly not every girl identified with every activity and career—but it was an incredible feeling seeing those who did connect with an activity succeed and have fun.

Photo of girl welding in welding lab.“The trades can provide a career option that not only pays well but can be obtained without a four-year degree. I hope the camp helped them to gain a better idea of what a technical college is and what it can mean for them as they move on into high school and beyond.”

And while college plans and the girl’s professional lives might still be a ways off, Friendshuh said above all, she hoped the camp gave the girls “a sense of accomplishment, empowerment, and the realization that they can be anything they want.”

Photo Credit: Girl Scouts River Valley


Dunwoody-built Little Free Libraries coming to a community near you

Student clubs and organizations provide undergrads with unique volunteer and professional development opportunities.

One of the many perks of a Dunwoody education is the abundance of professional clubs and student organizations on campus. With over 20 to choose from, these clubs are more than just extra-curriculars. They serve as valuable ways for students to meet industry professionals, participate in community outreach, and build their résumés and portfolios.

And the College’s National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) student chapter, led by Construction Project Management Instructor Jon Hassenfritz, is no exception.

Photo of one of the student-built Little Free Libraries.Students build Little Free Libraries for BATC

Earlier this semester, the NAHB student chapter was approached with a unique volunteer opportunity: to help build three Little Free Libraries for the Builders Association of the Twin Cities (BATC).

The libraries resemble small houses and operate as a free book exchange for anyone interested. Once constructed, the student-built libraries would be put on display—and to work—in the towns of Oakdale (near Cardinal Place neighborhood), Apple Valley (near the Government Center and the city library and park) and Anoka (near Walker Methodist senior living community).

“The goal is to encourage reading at home as studies have shown that having more books at home improves literacy levels and school-readiness among children,” said Heather Griffis, BATC Office Manager and project coordinator.

Photo of Dunwoody students working on the Little Free Library

Photo Credit: Builders Association of Twin Cities

“BATC’s relationship with Dunwoody and the Construction department at Dunwoody has always been good. It’s important to us to work with our members. We thought this was a good opportunity for the students at Dunwoody to do something fun while working on their degree.”

NAHB members and project volunteers John Jeske, John Bautch and Bradley Toenges agreed, jumping right in to the project.

Student activities promote professional development

Hassenfritz said that throughout the project Jeske, Bautch, and Toenges were able to enhance their building and project management skills.

“We were provided with two designs for the libraries and then were able to design the third one ourselves,” Hassenfritz explained. “Students had to learn to read and understand the build plans so that they could cut and assemble the houses.”

The students were also able expand their knowledge of a variety of different hand and power tools.

Photo of one of the Little Free Libraries.“Participating in the student chapter of the NAHB has a lot of benefits for students,” Hassenfritz said. “Through the club they have access to networking events, trade shows and many other experiences that other students don’t.”

“This gives them the opportunity to meet and talk with people in the residential construction field. These connections they make can open up opportunities for internships and full-time employment,” he said.

Learn more

The libraries are currently in their final building stages. Upon completion, the finished houses will be sent back to the BATC for painting and decorating. The finished products are expected to be installed by the end of the summer.

Learn more about where these libraries can be found.

Learn more about Construction Management.

Dunwoody College STEM camp opens doors to science-related careers

Minnesota high school juniors and seniors explore STEM-related career opportunities they didn’t know were available.
STEM camp students and Dunwoody instructors outside the College's main entrance.

STEM camp students and Dunwoody instructors outside the College’s main entrance.

When Marissa Owens, a senior-to-be from Rosemount High School, started STEM camp, she knew she enjoyed science and math but wasn’t sure how to make a career of it.

“I hadn’t really figured anything out about engineering yet,” Owens said. “So it was interesting finding a new field that had both science and math combined.”

Dunwoody STEM camp fills the need for more science camps in Minnesota

Janet Nurnberg, Dunwoody Industrial Engineering Technology Program Manager, started STEM camp in 2015 after working with the advisory board for St. Paul Public Schools Project Lead the Way.

“In working with some of the local high school teachers the comment was that there’s just not enough STEM camps or opportunities for the students to be exposed to STEM topics in the summertime,” Nurnberg said.

Nurnberg attended a STEM camp while she was in high school, and it helped inform her decision for college. She wanted to give local high school students a similar opportunity.

And what better way to expose the students the career paths available to them than by introducing them to an on-the-job visit?

Boston Scientific offers students a look into life in industry

Boston Scientific engineers help students solve real-world industrial engineering problems.

Boston Scientific engineers help students solve real-world industrial engineering problems.

In addition to sponsoring the event, Boston Scientific hosted students on the first day of camp.

After touring the facilities and hearing from a panel of Boston Scientific employees about careers in industrial engineering, students were split into groups and tasked with solving real-world engineering problems.

In the first activity, students were asked to save the world from toxic waste by finding new and creative ways to transport the waste safely.

“It was fun to get the students thinking and trying to think outside the box,” Nurnberg said.

The second activity exposed the students to an age-old industrial engineering issue–process improvement. Students needed to find a way to speed up the food production of a small burger joint in order to keep up with a large fast food restaurant that had just opened up across the street.

“I really liked the Boston Scientific activities,” Owens said. “It gave me more insight on what industrial workers and engineers do on a daily basis.”

After a day at Boston Scientific, students spent the rest of camp in Dunwoody’s state-of-the-art labs for more hands-on activities.

Students manufacture a flashlight

For the remaining three days, students built a flashlight from the ground up, learning about all the people and technology involved in moving a product from design to production–and finally to sitting on display on store shelves.

The body of the flashlight was 3D-printed in the College’s Engineering Materials, Mechanics, and Metrology Lab. From there, students spent time in the Electronics Lab soldering the flashlight’s electrical components–made up of a small Arduino PLC. The students learned to program that PLC and also designed a custom battery cap in SolidWorks to hold the flashlight together.

Pre-Media Technologies Principal Instructor Pete Rivard shows the students how package design works on the College's digital press.

Pre-Media Technologies Principal Instructor Pete Rivard shows the students how package design works on the College’s digital press.

Once the flashlight was manufactured and functioning, the students headed for the College’s packaging design facility to learn how to make a carton for their product using an Esko Kongsgerg V20 cutting table.

“My favorite part of the camp was the whole hands-on approach we took,” Mahtomedi High School student Brock Halverson said. “It was cool that we got to sit down and actually use some of the equipment that we would use later on.”

In addition to this flashlight project, students also learned about other opportunities in STEM like architecture, surveying, civil engineering, and software design.

Visit us on the web for more information about STEM camp and other summer activities for middle and high school students.