Category Archives: Student Competitions

Robotics & Manufacturing students compete, help out teams at Autonomous Snowplow Competition

Dunwoody students receive sportsmanship award for fourth year in a row.

While most don’t necessarily relish the idea of snowstorms and clearing driveways…there are some folks who do. And you’ll likely find them at the annual Autonomous Snowplow Competition.

Dunwoody Robotics & Manufacturing students have competed in the Institute of Navigation (ION’s) Autonomous Snowplow Competition, since its inauguration in 2011. Held during the St. Paul Winter Carnival, the event serves as an opportunity for universities, colleges, and the general public to showcase hand-built machines that can independently clear piles of snow without any manual control.

It’s one of the Robotics & Manufacturing student’s favorite and most successful competitions, and the teams have the record to prove it.

Last year, Dunwoody placed 3rd and 5th in the competition.

And this year, Dunwoody earned its highest place to date when Team Wendigo brought home 2nd place and a $4,000 prize.

Dunwoody’s Snow Devils Team closely followed with 5th place and a $700 prize.

But for Dunwoody students, the annual event is about more than just winning. It’s also about sharing their love and knowledge of technology with the judges and spectators—and even the competition itself.

Snowplow Competition about more than just winning

“All that knowledge and experience doesn’t count for much if you don’t find ways to use it,” Automated Systems & Robotics student and Wendigo Team member Jeremy Berg said.

“This event isn’t just about who can take first place—it’s about seeing different ideas for autonomous thinking in action,” Berg added. “These people are our future coworkers and friends, and we want to be the go-to people to lend a hand or solve any issue.”

That mentality has contributed to the College earning the sportsmanship award in 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, and again this year, 2018.

Sportsmanship Award has meaningful history

Created by ION in 2012, the sportsmanship award honors the team that exhibited the best sportspersonship throughout the competition.

The award was renamed the Dr. Nattu Natarajan Golden Smile Award just a few years later after University of Michigan-Dearborn professor and competition leader Dr. Narasimhamurthi (Nattu) Natarajan, who passed away from a lung illness on the Saturday morning of the 2016 competition.

The award and its significance means a great deal to Dunwoody.

“I worked with Professor Natu at the competition those first few years,” Robotics & Manufacturing Dean E.J. Daigle said. “And he loved the Dunwoody students and teamwork.

“Many of these teams are traveling hundreds or even thousands of miles to compete. As a local team, it is easy for us to pack up extra tools and supplies to help teams make repairs to their vehicles.

“We have made it our mission each year to ensure that every team competes.”

And that’s exactly what they did.

The value of teamwork

Daigle shared that one of the reasons Dunwoody received the award this year is because his students were able to help out Case Western’s Sno-Joke robot, which had completely dead batteries on the last day of the competition.

With no safe or easy way to charge it at the event, the team thought they might be out of luck.

But by using personal jumper cables from Dunwoody students’ cars, “We were able to find a way to parallel their batteries with ours and maintain running the battery chargers at full capacity,” Daigle explained. “This allowed us to charge their machines and our machines at the same time.”

Thanks to the students’ quick thinking, the team, which had originally missed their scheduled run time, was able to compete at the end of the day Sunday—even beating out Dunwoody for fourth place.

The students helped another team in a similar scenario back in 2016.

Daigle recalls that at one point during that competition, a school announced they were going to quit due to technical difficulties when another team suggested they, “find Dunwoody–they can fix anything.”

“To me, that is far more valuable than whatever place you come in,” Daigle said. “I couldn’t be any prouder.”

Learn more about Dunwoody Robotics & Manufacturing.

Dunwoody earns First Place in annual AICC Competition second year in a row

Dunwoody students earned First Place in AICC’s Annual Corrugated as Art competition along with a $500 cash prize, and an all-expense paid trip to the Association of Independent Corrugated Converters (AICC)’s Annual Meeting in Las Vegas.

AICC Competition Team 2017

From left to right: Kris Patterson, Kristin Warehime, and Brann Haugen

When Pre-Media Technologies student Kristin Warehime found out that the theme of this year’s AICC Corrugated as Art student competition was “Las Vegas,” she immediately thought of the Bellagio.

“I wanted to figure out how to get some movement in there,” Warehime said. “I liked the idea of somehow moving the water in the hotel’s front fountains.”

With this in mind, Warehime teamed up with Graphic Design students Brann Haugen and Kris Patterson to design and build a replica of the Bellagio Hotel made entirely out of corrugated cardboard – complete with its signature fountain.

Their hard work recently paid off, earning them First Place, a $500 cash prize, and an all-expense paid trip to Las Vegas to attend AICC’s Annual Meeting.

Building the Bellagio

The BellagioAdding movement to the Hotel’s fountains wasn’t easy, but the team took on the challenge.

Haugen invented a pull-tab mechanism that could rotate and shift the water on a set of gears, giving the piece a dynamic user experience.

“I had to adjust the size of the teeth on the gears multiple times,” Haugen said. “It was really a trial and error process. It wasn’t like anything I had done before, so it was a good learning experience.”

The students also worked with Architecture Adjunct Instructor Stephen Knowles to learn more about the College’s Boss Laser table. With this machine, they could take their replica to the next level by refining the details in the cutouts.

“The Boss Laser worked really well for cutting the water,” Patterson said. “We wouldn’t have been able to get that much detail without it.”

In addition to designing and building the structure, the students had to submit an instruction manual and essay. All of which contributed to their First Place prize.

The team travels to the AICC Annual Meeting

The team will be traveling to Vegas for AICC’s Annual Meeting at the end of September where they will have the chance to network with professionals from the packaging industry.

In addition to networking, the students will be paired up with seasoned structural design industry professionals in a multi-day design lab where they will learn design and production tips and techniques.

“The Annual Meeting is where the leaders in the industry gather,” Principal Pre-Media Technologies Instructor Pete Rivard said. “The networking will be unbelievable.”

The Dunwoody Difference

“Our program has been evolving over the past decade toward an emphasis in packaging and retail in-store displays – which features heavy use of corrugated substrates – and reflects our geographical region’s expertise, career opportunities, and international standing in this market,” Rivard said.

In their first year of study, students in the Design & Graphics Technology department are challenged to find innovative ways to use the state-of-the-industry software and equipment in the College’s print and packaging facilities, including ArtiosCAD.

“[Building the Hotel] was a good review of the Artios program,” Warehime said. “I feel like this experience really built on the stuff I learned in the packaging class.”

“This win continues to validate our decision to concentrate our curriculum on packaging design with an emphasis in materials exploration and aesthetics,” Rivard said.

Learn more about Dunwoody’s Design & Graphics Technology Department.

Dunwoody makes debut in BWBR Prize competition, student Celina Nelson wins prize

Dunwoody Architecture students enter their semester final projects at 2017 BWBR competition.

Six Dunwoody Architecture students participated in the 2017 BWBR Prize for the first time last month, each leaving the competition with real-world experience, improved final projects, and some extra cash.

Celina Nelson took home one of the competition’s first-place prizes and a $1,500 check, while the remaining Dunwoody contestants received $250 for participating.

Dunwoody Architecture Student Celina Nelson

Dunwoody Architecture Student Celina Nelson

“I feel a new sense of confidence that I haven’t had before,” said Nelson.

Dunwoody eligible to compete in BWBR Prize for the first time

St. Paul architecture firm BWBR hosts the competition each year as a way for architecture and interior design students entering their final year of schooling to meet, network, and prepare for their careers.

Nelson's final, sketched site plan

Nelson’s final sketched site plan

With Dunwoody Architecture’s first cohort set to graduate next year, this was the very first year Dunwoody has been eligible to compete in the annual event.

“I was nervous [to compete], because this would be the first time that our final presentation would be for a prize, and not a grade,” Nelson said. “The stakes were definitely high.”

Each participating college was judged separately at the event, with students typically competing with projects or finals they had already created for school. Students presented their projects to a panel of BWBR employees who then critiqued them on their designs, presentation, and public speaking skills.

Students present to BWBR employees
Exterior rendering of the front side of the house

Exterior rendering of the front side of the house

Dunwoody student submissions consisted of their final projects for an Architecture Studio class. This was one of the first classes where students had the freedom to create their own client as well as independently design a building from start to finish.

Nelson—whose project was a single-family residential home—said the entire process provided her with a new way of thinking and working.

“It was nice to create the parameters of the client first and then design for the client,” Nelson said. “Instead of just being willy nilly like, ‘I want a fireplace here’, ‘I want a door here.’

Interior rendering of the kitchen/dining area

Interior rendering of the kitchen/dining area

“Because when you have a real client, you have to have empathy and have to understand where they’re coming from and design for them, not for yourself. That was a really important lesson that I took away from this: learning how to say ‘their house’, ‘they wanted this’, instead of ‘I wanted this.’”

The first round of Architecture graduates are set to graduate in May of 2018.

Learn more about Dunwoody Architecture.

Two Dunwoody students advance to 2017 SkillsUSA National Competition

Dunwoody brings home 6 medals in 2017 State Competition.

Architectural Drafting & Design student Eli Abnet and Electrical Construction & Maintenance student Matthew Longendyke are headed to Louisville, Ky., for the National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC) thanks to their first place wins at the 2017 SkillsUSA MN Competition earlier this month.

Abnet won the Architecture portion of the competition. Longendyke took first in the Related Technical Math contest.

In addition to the two gold medals, Dunwoody students also brought home a 2nd place medal in Related Technical Math (Andrew Schmitz, Electrical Construction Design & Management), 2nd place medal in Architecture (Reid Schumacher, Architectural Drafting & Design), and two 3rd place medals in Collision and Automotive Refinishing (John Spartz, Automotive Collision Repair & Refinishing).

In total, 12 Dunwoody students competed in six different areas in the 2017 competition.

Abnet and Longendyke will join more than 6,000 other technical education students—all state winners—at the National Competition Wednesday, June 21, and Thursday, June 22.

The event is open to the public and free of charge.

To get involved in SkillsUSA 2018, contact Dunwoody SkillsUSA Coordinator Polly Friendshuh at 612.381. 8107 or pfriendshuh@dunwoody.edu.

Dunwoody Surveying takes 2nd in 2017 NSPS Student Competition

Dunwoody students place in competition for second year in a row.

Second-year students and soon-to-be-graduates Patrick Kowal, Francis Maranga, and Curtis Meriam took home a 2nd place trophy in the associate’s degree category at the 2017 NSPS Student Competition earlier this month.

Photo of Dunwoody Surveying students at the 2017 NSPS CompetitionThe annual event is organized by the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) and is held in various locations across the country each year. This year the competition was held in Silver Spring, Maryland. This is the second time Dunwoody College has participated. 

Competition, critique from judges helps students prepare for their career

Nine teams of students enrolled in surveying and geometrics associate and bachelor degree programs participated in the 2017 event.

In order to participate, student teams were required to complete a project on the topic of “high-precision vertical control applications” prior to the competition. At the event, the students presented their project and findings to a general audience and a panel of four judges. They also took questions and received project feedback from the panel.

“Dunwoody students chose to study the effect of moisture and frost on the vertical position of surveying monuments,” said Kelly Ness, Surveying & Civil Engineering Technology Principal Instructor and Team Leader.

“The group concluded that survey points could move up to an inch and a half vertically between pre-frost and post-frost. This phenomenon could have large impacts on surveying projects that span through the Minnesota winters.”

A press release by NSPS said that event judges and audience members were impressed by the poise and organization of the student teams. Professional surveyors in the audience also commented on the great promise shown by all of the students.

An interview with the Dunwoody student team at the competition can be found on the NSPS YouTube channel.

Kowal, Maranga, and Meriam are set to graduate in May.

Learn more about Dunwoody Surveying.

Dunwoody teams win Third and Fifth at 7th Annual Autonomous Snowplow Competition

Dunwoody teams also received the Dr. Nattu Natarajan Best Sportsmanship Award

Autonomous_Snowplow_Competition_2017

Dunwoody College of Technology recently competed in the Institute of Navigation (ION)’s Autonomous Snowplow Competition held during the St. Paul Winter Carnival in Rice Park January 26-29. The College entered two robotic snowplows–the Snow Devil and the Wendigo.

The Snow Devils earned fifth place and a $700 prize, while Team Wendigo placed third, earning a $2000 prize and the Bronze Snow Globe Award.

The College, as a whole, also brought home a $500 prize for the Dr. Nattu Natarajan Golden Smile Award for best sportsmanship. The Award is named after University of Michigan-Dearborn professor Dr. Narasimhamurthi Natarajan (often called “Nattu”) who was known for his quick, insightful analysis followed by a joke and a smile.

Nattu passed away from a lung illness on the Saturday morning of the 2016 competition while his two teams were competing. ION renamed its team sportsmanship award in honor of his leadership.

This year, thirteen teams from the top engineering universities in the Upper Midwest participated. Dunwoody is one of just two schools that have been competing in the annual event since it first began in 2011. The College has since taken home several awards, including a third place prize in 2016.

Dunwoody adds new robot to roster

This year, Dunwoody decided to try something new by adding a second robot to its snowplow roster.

“With the new engineering programs coming online, we had a lot of interest from our Mechanical Engineering students,” Dean of Robotics & Manufacturing E.J. Daigle said. “We always have interest from our Automated Systems & Robotics students. We even had a welder interested in it this year. So we had a lot more interest up front.”

From To to Bottom: Team Wendigo, Snow Devils

From To to Bottom: Team Wendigo, Snow Devils

 The Snow Devil was built to compete in the first year of the competition. Since then, students have refined and added to this original design. The robot functions by following magnetic strips that can be installed on any sidewalk or driveway.

The new Wendigo machine was created to complement the Snow Devil.

“When I found out they were letting us build a whole new robot, I thought, okay, we need to make this separate from the Snow Devil,” Automated Systems & Robotics student William Hiniker said. “Wendigo sounded cool and scary, so we went with Wendigo. Hopefully, you know, people see it move snow and they say, ‘wow that looks cool’”

The Wendigo uses a combination of a machine vision system and an inertial measurement unit to navigate up and down sidewalks and driveways.

The teams presented their designs to a panel of judges on Thursday evening at the Minnesota Science Museum. After safety checks on Friday night, the teams competed on the sidewalk-clearing course on Saturday and then took on the driveway course on Sunday.

Learn more about Dunwoody’s School of Engineering and Robotics & Manufacturing Department.

Students compete in Autonomous Snowplow Competition at St. Paul Winter Carnival

This weekend, two teams of students will be competing in the 7th Annual Autonomous Snowplow Competition in Rice Park, St. Paul.

Come support Dunwoody College of Technology students at the 7th Annual ION Snowplow Competition during the St. Paul Winter Carnival in Rice Park this weekend! Snowplows will be competing from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

Dunwoody students have competed in the Institute of Navigation (ION) Autonomous Snow Plow Competition every year for the last six years. The competition challenges college students to design and build a robotic snowplow that can clear both a sidewalk and a driveway without any human interaction.

“This competition gives us a good chance to apply what we’ve learned in our courses,” said Automated Systems & Robotics student Nick Hajlo.

From To to Bottom: Team Wendigo, Snow Devils

From Top to Bottom: Team Wendigo, Snow Devils

This year, Dunwoody will compete with two robots – the Snow Devil and the Wendigo.

The Snow Devil was built to compete in the first year of the competition. Since then, students have refined and added to this original design. The robot earned Third Place in last year’s competition and students hope their design improvements will place them in the top two this year. The robot follows magnetic strips that can be installed on any sidewalk or driveway.

The Wendigo; however, was designed and built just this year. Students from Welding, Automated Systems & Robotics, and Electronics Engineering Technology collaborated to bring this robot to life from the ground up. The Wendigo uses a combination of a machine vision system and an inertial measurement unit to navigate up and down sidewalks and driveways.

Dunwoody students will be competing alongside teams from Case Western Reserve University, Iowa State University, Michigan Technological University, North Dakota State University, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, University of St. Thomas, and Wayne State University.

The teams will present their designs to a panel of judges on Thursday evening at the Minnesota Science Museum. On Friday night, they’ll go through final safety checks before competing on Saturday and Sunday.

Learn more about Dunwoody’s Robotics & Manufacturing Department.

Radiologic Technology student wins Third Place in state-wide knowledge bowl

First-year Radiologic Technology student Julie VanderWal recently won Third Place at the Minnesota Society of Radiologic Technologists’ (MSRT) annual Knowledge Bowl.

Every year, the Minnesota Association of Radiologic Students (MARS)–a subcommittee of the Minnesota Society of Radiologic Technologists (MSRT) made up of twelve rad tech programs throughout the state of Minnesota–holds three events to encourage students to network with one another and stay up-to-date on the current issues facing the rad tech industry.

One of those meetings is the annual MARS Knowledge Bowl.

Dunwoody student wins Third Place at 2016 MARS Knowledge Bowl

First-year Radiologic Technology student Julie VanderWal with Dunwoody Radiologic Technology Program Manager David Blake

First-year Radiologic Technology student Julie VanderWal with Dunwoody Radiologic Technology Program Manager David Blake

The 2016 MARS Knowledge Bowl attracted 130 students from eight schools across Minnesota to compete on Thursday, Sept. 29, at Treasure Island Resort & Casino in Welch, MN.

Dunwoody student Julie VanderWal won third place in the overall competition—earning the title for highest-performing first-year student—bested only by students from Lake Superior College and the Mayo Clinic Rad Tech program.

In addition to a cash prize, VanderWal will receive free MSRT membership after graduation.

Radiologic Technology at Dunwoody
Dunwoody’s Rad Tech program offers small class sizes and robust clinical rotation experiences. The College maintains partnerships with 10-15 different hospitals and clinics in the Twin Cities area, including North Memorial Hospital.

The variety of clinical sites allows students to work with real patients in every healthcare setting and situation—from level-one trauma centers to geriatric hospitals—before they graduate.

During the clinical rotations, students scrub in and work with real patients alongside Radiologic Technologists and Medical Doctors for an eight-hour shift. Graduates leave Dunwoody well-prepared, knowing exactly what to expect in their field.

Learn more about Dunwoody’s Radiologic Technology program.