Category Archives: Student Competitions

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

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

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

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

A better life

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

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

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

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

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

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

The nomination process
The Lamoreaux Apartments. Photo credit to

The Lamoreaux Apartments. Photo credit to

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

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

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

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

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

Dunwoody & Mortenson Construction Win “Best Meal Award” at 2015 CANstruction

Team Donates 6,000 + Canned Goods to Second Harvest Heartland

IMG_2033-smallDunwoody’s Construction Sciences & Building Technology Department teamed up with Mortenson Construction for the 2015 Minneapolis CANstruction fundraiser—an annual event where participating teams build colossal structres made entirely out of cans of food.

The CANstruction team earned the “Best Meal” Award at the event, which was held at the Mall of America last month. The award is given annually to the team that uses the most nourishing, protein-packed food items.

Proceeds from the Minneapolis event were given to Second Harvest Heartland, the Upper Midwest’s largest hunger-relief organization.

There are over 150 CANstruction events held throughout the world each year.

Minnesota History Inspires 2015 CANstruction Sculpture Theme

IMG_8751-smallThe 2015 sculpture—designed and built by Interior Design and Construction Management students–was themed “Feast Like a Viking.” Cans of beans, tomatoes, vegetables and coconut milk made up the ship—complete with oars, a mast, sail and dragon head—while cans of tuna were used to represent ocean waves.

The CANstruction team chose the Viking theme because it represents the rich history of Minnesota. The voyage of Leif Erikson—who is often considered to be the first European to discover America—was recreated in 1927, with a final landed in Duluth, Minnesota. Journal entries from that expedition were kept and often detailed the crew’s difficulty in finding fresh fish and ripe vegetables.

This inspired the CANstruction team’s motto, which is “no-one’s ‘voyage through life’ should be limited by hunger”…especially today.

CANstruction Provides Students with Beneficial, Real World Experience

The entire project lasted about five weeks. During that time, Mortenson Construction and Dunwoody students not only designed the sculpture but also collected more than 6,000 cans of food.

Interior Design Principal Instructor and CANstruction Coordinator Cindy Martimo said that although the students were working with canned goods, the project did require students to use skills and best practices they would also perform on a real job.

“It required two very different departments to work together—especially on build day,” said Martimo. “Only five people could build at a time. So those who weren’t building had to provide various levels of support to the builders by unpacking boxes, passing cans, etc. The team had to practice time management, communicate with one another, follow a set of plans, and ultimately create the structure they designed.”

Click below to view a timelapse video of the CANstruction team assembling the sculpture at the event.

This is the fourth year the Construction Sciences & Building Technology Department has participated in a CANstruction event, and, according to Martimo, the students support and dollars raised grow each time.

“The event has really become a great opportunity for our students,” she said. “They get to be creative, design something and raise money for charity. In addition, their creations are judged by the very people who might someday offer them a job. The other teams out on the floor are all architecture and engineering firms. These are people that the students will be working with –or be hired by–one day. To have that kind of industry presence and to be able to add the CANstruction event to their resumes is very beneficial.”

Get Involved in CANstruction 2016

The Construction Sciences & Building Technology Department plans to continue the event next year. The project is open to all students in the Department. 

To get involved in CANstruction 2016, contact Cindy Martimo at


A big thank you to this year’s sponsors: Mortenson Construction, Parsons Electric, Custom Drywall, and Ames Construction

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

Two Dunwoody 2015 Graduates are Finalists in Sherwin-Williams STIR Student Design Challenge

Two 2015 Interior Design graduates—Andrea Mbali and Jessica Curtis—are among the ten finalists in the Sherwin-Williams STIR Student Design Challenge.

Mbali and Curtis standing by their designs The challenge—open to all students in the United States, the District of Columbia and Canada—provides applicants with an opportunity to create and submit a color rendering of an interior space for a residential and/or a commercial design. The submission requires the use of at least three Sherwin-Williams paint colors in addition to a project statement describing the project and explaining how color was essential in creating the design.

Each submission undergoes two rounds of judging and is scored on originality (30%); overall design aesthetics (30%); best use of color palette (30%); and the overall project statement (10%).

“We always let students know about all competitions that are open to them,” Interior Design Principal Instructor Colleen Schmaltz said, “and we particularly encourage them to enter since we know that our students consistently show strong work. The students also know that winning a national competition is a significant addition to their professional resume and portfolio, and in some cases a great source of prize cash and scholarships. This is the first year two of our students have chosen to enter this particular competition—and now both are national finalists!”

Both Andrea and Jessica used part of their mini-capstone project—created in the Fall semester of their senior year at Dunwoody—in their submission. The capstone project requires students to learn and become fluent in design programs such as REVIT and the Adobe Creative Suite including InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator—programs widely used in the Interior Design profession.

“All of the studio classes and building technology courses have taught me how to design creatively and utilize real practices,” says finalist Jessica Curtis, “and [Principal Instructor] Nada Sarraff-Knoweles really challenged me to create a unique design.”

Andrea Mbali also paid tribute to her instructors saying, “Colleen Schmaltz really inspired me to enter my project. Without her encouragement, I probably would have ben consumed with day-to-day projects and schoolwork and not have applied. Nada Sarraff-Knoweles also helped me during the design process. Nada pushed me to push myself creatively and was able to tell me when things were or were not working.”

Practice made perfect for Andrea when it came to designing. “Throughout class projects, my rendering skills in REVIT have developed tremendously,” she said, ”and I now typically build all of my own furniture, lighting and other necessary structures instead of using online prebuilt models. I feel this gives me an edge because I am not limited to what the internet provides.”

Andrea—who hopes to specialize in Hospitality design—took the idea of a traditional spa in a whole new direction in her STIR competition submission titled “Felicity Day Spa.”

Andrea Mbali: Felicity Day Spa

Andrea Mbali: Felicity Day Spa

“My inspiration was drawn from my own experiences of going to spas and not feeling like they were cool enough for younger generations. Not everyone always wants zen,” Andrea said, “I was also inspired by my travels and seeing what the world has to offer outside of the Midwest. Everything here is so safe, and I love the unexpected and daring in design and fashion.”

Andrea Mbali: Felicity Day Spa Locker Room

Andrea Mbali: Felicity Day Spa Locker Room

Jessica’s submission—titled Flex Art Gallery and Studios—takes a more commercial design approach, inspired by real Minneapolis structures and landmarks.

Jessica Curtis: Flex Art Gallery and Studios Entry

Jessica Curtis: Flex Art Gallery and Studios Entry

“My project is a flexible art gallery and studio space,” says Jessica, “It started with being an adaptive reuse space utilizing the Bauhaus (Tap room) in Northeast Minneapolis. It incorporated different spaces where local artists could come and work and for the public to take classes. An expansion was then ‘built’ onto that to create an art gallery. The Art Gallery is an all-encompassing glass box façade offering a spectacular view of the Mississippi River and the Minneapolis skyline.”

Jessica Curtis: Flex Art Gallery

Jessica Curtis: Flex Art Gallery

Jessica Curtis: Flex Art Studio

Jessica Curtis: Flex Art Studio

Both projects are currently being reviewed and judged by Sherwin-Williams Director of Color Marketing Jackie Jordan as well as two celebrity judges.

A first place prize in both the residential design category and the commercial design category will be announced in early June. Winners will have their work featured in the 2015 edition of STIR magazine and receive $2,500 in cash.

Dunwoody students earn gold at 2015 SkillsUSA Minnesota contest

Dunwoody College of Technology students performed well again this year in the SkillsUSA Minnesota Contest held last weekend at various locations in the Twin Cities, including the Dunwoody campus.

Overall, 20 Dunwoody students competed in nine contests, including Architectural Drafting, Automotive Service Technology, Automotive Refinishing, Collision Repair Technology, Electrical Construction Wiring, Industrial Motor Control, Related Technical Math, Web Design and Welding.

Students medaled in five of the contests, with five in first place, two in second place and two in third place.

The following are the medal winners:


Architectural DraftingAdvisor: Paul Strother

1st Place: James Matthes

2nd Place: Chris Herd

3rd Place:  Celina Nelson


Web DesignAdvisor: Kevin Wendt

1st Place Team: Ryan Blaha & Eric Lorentzen

2nd Place: Joshua Eastwood & Nhia Yang

3rd Place: Casey Cross & Andrew Kinniburgh

Collision RepairAdvisors: Bruce Graffunder & Allan Zimney

1st Place: Benjamin Meister


Automotive RefinishingAdvisors: Bruce Graffunder & Allan Zimney

1st Place:  Harrison Reget


Related Technical MathAdvisor: Polly Friendshuh

1st Place:  Matthew Shevich

The National competition will take place June 22 – 26 in Louisville, Ky.

For more information about SkillsUSA Minnesota, visit


Dunwoody Design & Graphics Technology students take first place in ICPF “Best of the Best” Student Design Competition

The results are in! Congratulations to Design & Graphics Technology Students: Stephanie Burdorf, Charlotte LaCour, Dan Mueller, Finn Pearson, Noah Rabinowitz and Jenna Weiler, winners of the annual International Corrugated Packaging Foundation’s (ICPF) “Best of the Best” Student Design Competition!

IMG_5713- small

Featured left to right: Noah Rabinowitz, Jenna Weiler, Charlotte LaCour, Dan Mueller, Finn Pearson and Stephanie Burdorf.

The 2015 “Best of the Best” Competition was held Thursday, Feb. 19 via a live teleconference during the Design & Graphics Technology 2015 Internship Showcase.

Competing against Dunwoody was 2014 AICC Structural Design Competition runner-ups California Polytechnic State University and Millersville University, Pennsylvania.

The objective of the 2014 AICC competition– won by Burdorf, LaCour, Mueller, Pearson, Rabinowitz and Weiler last summer– was to create real-world marketing materials to assist with their college’s student recruitment and retention efforts. The final project was to be tailored to each team’s corresponding schools and stay within the branding guidelines of that institution. This required students to work with the college’s admissions and marketing departments to ensure the end result was something their college could realistically use.

The Dunwoody team’s project, titled “Recruiting Standee,” was comprised of a student recruitment mailing envelope/folder, a 3-D floor display to be used during college events and a “first day” experience box to be given to new students. The box, purposefully designed to fit inside each new student’s locker, included room for a Dunwoody T-shirt, pens, pencils and a USB flash drive. The Dunwoody team explained they also hoped the box would drive locker sales, helping increase overall revenue for the College.

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The “Best of the Best” competition took the AICC competition a step further by requiring the top three contenders to successfully “sell” their completed projects to a panel of industry experts. The teams were then judged not only on their project’s overall design creativity, but also the team’s ability to communicate effectively and exercise strong persuasion techniques during their presentation.


Weiler, LaCour and Rabinowitz shortly after they discover they have won!

The competition winners were announced during the telecast, shortly after each school finished presenting. Stephanie, Charlotte, Dan, Finn, Noah and Jenna leave with a $500 cash prize and an incredible addition to their portfolios and resumes.

For more information on next year’s competitions, visit or

Zech Bradach and Ollie Reller place in Behind the Mask welding competition

Zech Bradach earned second place in Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) and third place in Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW). Reller earned third place in the GMAW division.

L-R: Ollie Reller earned third place in the Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) division. Zech Bradach earned second place in GMAW and third place in Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW).

Twelve Welding Technology students participated in the Behind the Mask Welding Competition sponsored by the American Welding Society (AWS) on Feb. 26. Around 100 students from Minnesota and Wisconsin colleges competed in the event held at Minneapolis Community and Technical College.

Students competed in several categories utilizing such welding processes as Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW), Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW), Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW), and Oxy-acetylene Cutting (OFC). During the timed events students were presented with a blueprint and the metal components required to complete a weldment in 20 minutes. The weldments were then inspected by AWS Certified Welding Inspectors who scrutinized the dimensions, weld size and weld quality.

Each division placed the top three individuals to receive prizes. First place won an auto darkening welding helmet (worth $500) and $100 cash, second place winners earned $50 cash, and third place winners took home $25 cash.

Dunwoody student participants were: Zech Bradach, Ben Browne, Jacob Dommer, Lucas Hoglund, Curtis Mattson-Laurent, Max Mertans, Brendan Pliego, Ollie Reller, Austin Reuter, Kristen Schafer and Nikki Umpleby, Wyatt Werner.

Bradach earned second place in GMAW and third place in SMAW. Reller earned third place in the GMAW division.

Dunwoody Instructor Michael Reeser said he’s proud of his students’ performance in the competition.

“This is an excellent opportunity to reinforce the advanced skills that we teach on a daily basis and allows students to apply those skills in a timed event. It motivates students to produce quality work as it is scored by industry-certified welding inspectors,” he said.

To learn more about Dunwoody’s Welding Technology program, visit





Snow Devil 1012 team earns third place in Autonomous Snowplow Competition

The team, lead by faculty advisors E.J. Daigle and John McShannock, was made up of Automated Systems & Robotics students James Adams, Tim Easter, Jim Herman and Evan Prokop; Electronics & Engineering Technology students Andy Haug and Donald Kries; and Engineering Drafting & Design student Tony Laylon.

The team, lead by faculty advisors E.J. Daigle and John McShannock, was made up of Automated Systems & Robotics students James Adams, Tim Easter, Jim Herman and Evan Prokop; Electronics & Engineering Technology students Andy Haug and Donald Kries; and Engineering Drafting & Design student Tony Laylon.

The Snow Devil 1012 plow team earned third place and the Golden Smile Sportsmanship Award last weekend at the Fifth Annual Institute of Navigation (ION) Autonomous Snowplow Competition.  The event is part of the St. Paul Winter Carnival and took place in Rice Park.

The team, lead by faculty advisors E.J. Daigle and John McShannock, was made up of Automated Systems & Robotics students James Adams, Tim Easter, Jim Herman and Evan Prokop; Electronics & Engineering Technology students Andy Haug and Donald Kries; and Engineering Drafting & Design student Tony Laylon.

The Snow Devil 1012 used a magnetic navigation system to track a 0-3VDC electronic signal. Course correction calculations were done in an Allen Bradley MicroLogix PLC.


The University of Michigan-Dearborn’s Zenith and Yeti plows earned first and second place. Dunwoody’s Snow Devil 1012 earned third place, followed by the University of Calgary’s Fighting Mongooses, North Dakota State University’s Thundar, Case Western Reserve University’s Von Snowmower, University of Minnesota’s Ground Squirrel, and North Dakota State University’s Snowmenator.

Faculty Advisor and Dean of Robotics & Manufacturing E.J. Daigle said the Snow Devil 1012’s simplistic design and marketability set it apart from the competition.

“Most of the robots had over $10,000 in just sensors. Our total robot cost was $3,000 and could be implemented today by embedding magnetic sensors into a sidewalk or driveway,” he said.

For earning third place, the Snow Devil team won $2,000. Part of the prize money was used to build this year’s robot, some was used for a celebration dinner for the team and the rest will be used to kick start next year’s team.

The team also won the Golden Smile Sportsmanship Award and $500.  Daigle said the team did a lot to deserve the sportsmanship award. The Dunwoody Snow Devils: helped every team with tools, wire and parts to make repairs; cheered the loudest for every team as they competed; organized and participated in the parade with two other teams; initiated crowd participation through an audible checklist and 1-800-SNO-PLOW; and helped tear down the competition field after the event.

WCCO Channel 4 News’ Rachel Slavik interviewed Daigle for the story “Autonomous Snowplow Competition Wows Winter Carnival.”

ION Autonomous Snowplow Competition

According to the ION Autonomous Snowplow Competition website: “The purpose of this competition is to challenge university and college students, as well as the general public, to design, build, and operate a fully autonomous snowplow to remove snow from a designated path. The objectives of this competition include encouraging students and individuals to utilize the state of the art in navigation and control technologies to rapidly, accurately, and safely clear a path of snow.”