Category Archives: Industry Partners

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.

3D printing: more than just modeling

3D Printing at Dunwoody is more than just prototyping of parts.

Engineering Drafting & Design students were recently tasked with creating their own golf putters. Students designed putter heads in SolidWorks and printed prototypes using the College’s Stratasys 3D Printers. But they didn’t stop there. Students then took their models to Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center to make metal castings of their designs before machining and refining them into polished, ready-to-use golf putters.

Dunwoody Architecture students visit the Delos-Mayo Clinic Well Living Lab

Latest Architecture studio shows students how the design of a building can influence the health of the people in it.  

Photo of Well Living Lab Door21 hours a day. According to the Well Living Lab, that is the amount of time the average American spends inside a building. For Dunwoody Architecture students, that brings up a whole lot of questions:

How does being indoors affect our health and well-being? Can alterations to a building or structure improve that experience? How can we change the way most people think and feel about indoor spaces?

The Dunwoody Architecture Studio 7 class chose to tackle these questions head-on by touring the Well Living Lab, a Delos-Mayo Clinic Well collaboration focused exclusively on human health and the built environment.

 Well Living Lab research inspires latest Architecture studio

“I always feel that it is important to introduce students to contemporary ideas that push them out of their comfort zone. We have been discussing many design issues in class and how our environment can impact human health in both positive and negative ways. Learning how researchers are measuring our built environment and its users could help students get a better understanding of how their design decisions impact health,” said Architecture Principal Instructor Stephen Knowles.

Dunwoody Architecture students tour Well Living LabDuring the tour, students were exposed to the many different ways researchers study and alter the interior of a room. The lab has 5,500 square feet of configurable space dedicated to researching how the indoor environment impacts our comfort, health, and productivity.

And this left quite the impression on Architecture student Roman Zastavskiy:

“[The tour] helped me realize how often buildings are being repurposed,” Zastavskiy said. “Usually when you design a building you design it for a specific use. So, it’s comfortable when you’re using it for that case, but then if it’s reused, things are completely different.”

And changing the actual building is not as easy as changing the building’s purpose. The fixtures, lights, floors, and vents are for the most part rooted in place, which can be challenging for those remodeling and those who will use the building after the remodel. Zastavskiy explained that the Well Living Lab recognizes these difficulties and incorporates potential solutions into their space:

Photo of tinted lights at Well Living Lab

An example of how lighting within a room at the Well Living Lab can change colors and brightness.

“At the Lab, it was a very dynamic system,” Zastavskiy continued. “The lights change tints, the floors are retractable, so you can move it to re-plumb or re-do electrical work, etc. It is kind of a one-building fits all approach, which allows you to say ‘okay, this space doesn’t work for this reason anymore. So let’s change it.’” 

In an effort to make the studio more hands-on, a tour of the Lab wasn’t the only thing required of the students. They were also asked to find a specific aspect of indoor living they would like to help improve.

Throughout the semester, students studied and researched their topics, and later this year will present architectural drawings that show how a structural change could potentially fix that very problem.

Project focuses include sound acoustics (interior and exterior); active design (a planning approach to creating buildings that promote physical activity); biophilia (the study of interior and exterior foliage impacts), and for fourth-year Architecture student Gianna Madison: individual thermal control by way of heating and cooling:

Photo of Well Living Lab showcasing a wall of indoor plants/greenery

This particular Well Living Lab room has an entire wall of indoor plants and greenery.

“The focus of my project is individual thermal control,” Madison said. “I chose this particular subject because this is a real life problem that is encountered, within most buildings, and it remains one of the most difficult things to regulate. Most often someone is always going to be too hot or too cold, rarely is there a happy medium.”

“And when you have someone in an office that is freezing, there are statistics that say they’re less likely to be productive because they’re so busy trying to keep warm. The same is true if they are too hot; it’s difficult to focus,” she explained.

Studio encourages new thoughts, ways of designing

Both Zastavskiy and Madison shared that focusing on a singular topic—and how it can affect someone’s well-being—requires a completely different way of thinking; something that they haven’t quite done before.

A wall of computers that control the Lab’s rooms and features

Students were also able to see how many of the Lab’s rooms and features are controlled.

As Zastavskiy explained: “[In prior projects] it has been all fun and games. You can design whatever you want. Usually it looks nice but does it actually make sense? Well, probably not. Because you didn’t really think it through and you didn’t really research these different aspects. You could design a building that looks nice, but then after building realize it’s freezing cold because you loved windows so much you built the whole thing out of glass.

“Where as now, even just focusing on my project focus, which is sound—you start to pay attention. How will people feel in this building? If I walk into this space, will it be loud? Will it be quiet? I never really thought about that. Now I approach [designing] completely differently. A project like this forces you to start thinking about that kind of stuff. That’s what I really like about this studio.”

Learn more

The Studio 7 students will present their findings and recommended building designs during their final project presentation in mid-December.

Learn more about Dunwoody Architecture.

Learn about previous Dunwoody Architecture studios with Will Steger and Minnesota’s Independent Filmmaker Project.

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.”

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

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.

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 financialaid@dunwoody.edu.

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
(https://www.facebook.com/americansolarenergyracers/?fref=nf)

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 nsarrafknowles@dunwoody.edu.

Learn more about Interior Design.