Category Archives: Student News

Exploring Dunwoody Electrical Degrees

An in-depth look at two of Dunwoody’s fastest-growing programs: Electrical Construction Design & Management and Electrical Construction & Maintenance

Magic.

That’s how Electrical Construction & Maintenance Principal Instructor Polly Friendshuh describes electricity to her students on their first day of lecture.

“When you think about it, you are teaching someone something that is basically invisible to the naked eye,” Friendshuh said. “It is something you cannot see. So how do we make sense out of that?”

IMG_2644If a career in magic—or electricity—seems abstract to you, you’re not alone.

“Most of the students who come to talk to us about the Electrical Construction & Maintenance program don’t have an understanding of what the program really is,” said Electrical Construction & Maintenance Principal Instructor Steve Lee. “They have a picture in their head of wiring a house or doing some kind of small or large commercial project—and that’s it.

“But there’s more than that. It’s troubleshooting, servicing, installation, and repair in any facet that you can think of where there is electricity. It’s more than just the plug-ins and the lights you see in your house.”

Some of those facets include electrical systems like renewable energy, solar power, elevators, batteries, fire alarms, and security.

But finding an interest in electricity is only just the beginning. The next step is determining what career path to take. 

Exploring Dunwoody Electrical Construction Design & Management and Electrical Construction & Maintenance

Dunwoody College offers associate’s degrees in Electrical Construction Design & Management and Electrical Construction & Maintenance.

Dunwoody Electrical Design & Management students presenting final design projects to industry partners

Dunwoody Electrical Design & Management student presenting final design projects to industry partners

Generally speaking, students who pursue a degree in Electrical Construction Design & Management work indoors, using computer software programs like AutoCAD and Revit to design construction documents. They work directly with architects and building owners to determine what kinds of electrical systems are logical and possible in a new or existing structure.

Common job titles for program graduates include Electrical Designers, Electrical Estimators, and Electrical Project Managers. On average, these workers make about $54,300 annually and are typically employed at electrical contracting companies or engineering firms.

Students who graduate from Dunwoody’s Electrical Construction & Maintenance take the proposals put forth by electrical designers and help make it happen. It’s their job to ensure the submitted blueprints are up to code and that the proposed designs will actually work in the given space.

Dunwoody Electrical Construction & Maintenance student practices residential wiring inside Dunwoody's onsite house

Dunwoody Electrical Construction & Maintenance student practices residential wiring inside Dunwoody’s onsite house

Using their main tools of screwdrivers, benders, and wire cutters, these workers spend their days installing and maintaining electrical systems in a wide array of buildings, from residential to commercial to industrial and manufacturing.

Graduates from this program go on to become Apprentice or Maintenance Electricians, which make, on average, $58,810 annually.*

But, no matter the path, both electrical designers and electricians work hand-in-hand.

“We’re really two sides of the same blueprint,” said Electrical Design & Management Senior Instructor Nick Bohl. “It’s just a matter of figuring out whether you want to be the person creating and designing the blue prints or if you want to be the person who brings it to life.”

Choosing the right career path

But, sometimes that decision isn’t always obvious—especially for students right out of high school. That’s why Dunwoody’s electrical department is purposefully set-up so students in both the Electrical Construction Design & Management and Electrical Construction & Maintenance programs take the exact same classes their first year.

Dunwoody Electrical Construction & Maintenance student trains on actual equipment during lab time

This provides a chance for students who are interested in electrical systems—but don’t yet know what path they’d like to take—an opportunity to experience both professions.

“Usually when you go to college, you have to pick a major. And for someone right out of high school or someone relatively young, that’s hard because you’re looking at your future and thinking ‘what do I do?’” Friendshuh said.

“So the opportunity to experience both paths helps tremendously. It’s a huge selling point of the programs for a lot of people, because students can come in, see both careers, and know they won’t be stuck.”

The course schedule also provides students with another major benefit: the ability to complete both programs—and earn both associate’s degrees—in just three years.

“It’s unbelievable what opens up for you when you have got both the hands-on skills and the computer/design skills,” Lee said.

Dunwoody Construction Management student verifying blueprints

Dunwoody Construction Management student verifying blueprints

Another career path available to both program graduates is in project management. Dunwoody’s Construction Management bachelor’s completion degree allows students to transfer their two-year electrical degree directly into a four-year bachelors degree in Construction Management.

Two additional years of schooling allows graduates to quickly move up in their given industries, taking on leadership roles such as Project Manager, Construction Manager, Estimator, or Construction Business Owner.

As managers, graduates can expect to oversee the work of both the designers and the electricians. They develop building schedules and estimates, monitor build progress, and track construction costs to make sure the project gets done on time and within budget.

The average annual salary for employees in these positions is around $90,470.*

Dunwoody graduates in high demand

Graduates from all three programs are in high demand. In fact, Electrical Construction Design & Management, Electrical Construction & Maintenance, and Construction Management each placed 100% of their students last year.**

And, in many cases, those students were hired while they were still in school.

Dunwoody Electrical students touring the new U.S. Bank Stadium

Dunwoody Electrical students touring the new U.S. Bank Stadium

“These students are hirable,” Friendshuh said. “Most electrical students are working by their first year—in their field. If you want a job and you want options, this career path is it.”

Bohl agreed: “Our students hit the ground [running]. They come out of the program knowing not only the job but they have the experience, too,” Bohl said.

And employers know it.

Recent graduates are working at companies like Egan Companies, Hunt Electric Corporation, Black & Veatch, Cal-Tex Electric, Laketown Electric, Kimley-Horn & Associates, Ryan Companies, Mortenson Construction, and with various local unions.

The bottom line? Dunwoody electrical programs provide students access to multiple career paths and the skills and knowledge to tackle any one of them. Whether it’s construction, maintenance, design, low voltage, high voltage, estimating, sales, or project management—Dunwoody’s programs help students find their niche and then succeed in their chosen field.

Learn more

If either electrical program, or construction management, sounds interesting to you, attend our next open house on, Tuesday, June 13. Stop by anytime from 3 – 7 p.m. and meet with faculty, tour lab spaces, and talk curriculum. It’s not too late to enroll for fall semester.

Discover additional highlights of Dunwoody’s Electrical Construction Design & Management and Electrical Construction & Maintenance programs.


*Based on May 2015 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates for the state of Minnesota published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov. 

**Data reflects placement for AY2015-16 graduates indicating employment in their field of study within 6 months following graduation. Full data calculations are available for review during College open hours Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. CT at Career Services or contact careerservices@dunwoody.edu.

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.

Architecture students install functional ceramic art in Loring Corners

Students merge the art of digital fabrication and ceramics in semester studio.

Architecture Students spent their spring semester merging the modern art of digital fabrication with the age-old art of ceramics. The result was the installation of two beautiful ceramic displays in Loring Corners near Loring Park.

The first installation, titled “Bird-Planters”, includes a wall of small ceramic planters and birdhouses. Planted foliage includes Japanese spurge and ferns, Sweet Woodruff, Blue Moon Woodland Phlox, Tiarella, and other plants that thrive in full shade, while the birdhouses were specifically designed for house sparrows—the most common bird found near the installation site.

IMG_2779

“Bird-Planters” by Hannah Biros, Josiah Hanka, James Matthes, Aaron McCauley, Ben Sherman, Kevin Xiong

The second installation, titled “Lumivine”, is a tessellating light fixture that will serve as both art and a source of light. The design, which resembles a long vine, was inspired by both natural patterns and the traditional architecture of Loring Corners. The purchased light string should last around 12 years.

“Lumivine” by Guyon Brenna, Kyle Huberty, Ryan Kelly, and Marcos Villalobos

“Lumivine” by Guyon Brenna, Kyle Huberty, Ryan Kelly, and Marcos Villalobos

Both pieces were part of a final project for a semester-long studio. The course, titled Digital Ceramics, addressed the issues architects face when introducing variation of building systems and materials. Students learned new ways of making, including 3d modeling and parametric design as well as digital fabrication with the use of a laser cutter and CNC router. The learned techniques were then applied to the ceramic reproductive process of slip casting.

Stroll down the alleyway in Loring Corners near Maple St. in downtown Minneapolis to see the projects for yourself. Be sure to tag Dunwoody in any photos you take on Instagram or Facebook!

Tiara Hill named YCAP Leon Rankin Award recipient at year-end celebration

Hill is also the recipient of the 2017 Academic Excellence Award for the Robotics & Manufacturing Department and the Alumni Board of Managers 2017 Leadership Award.

Tiara Hill with YCAP's Associate Director of Special Initiatives Peggy Quam

Tiara Hill with YCAP’s Associate Director of Special Initiatives Peggy Quam

Earlier this month, Tiara Hill was named the recipient of the 2017 Dunwoody College of Technology Leon Rankin Award at the year-end YCAP graduation reception. Hill recently graduated with an associate’s degree in Welding & Metal Fabrication.

The Leon Rankin Award is given to a Dunwoody Youth Career Awareness Program (YCAP) student who shows academic excellence by maintaining a GPA of 2.5 or higher, has a 100% attendance record at all YCAP events, and acts as a mentor to their fellow students both in YCAP and in the classroom.

The award is named in honor of Leon Adam Rankin, Jr. After moving to Minnesota in 1958, Rankin attended Dunwoody College, earning an Electrician Journeyman License. He became a Master Electrician and contractor in 1968. He was a respected citizen, civil rights activist, businessman, teacher, family and marriage counselor, and one of two African-American Master Electricians in Minnesota. Rankin and former Dunwoody President Warren Phillips co-created YCAP in 1988 to provide enhanced career opportunities for under-represented youth by empowering them to graduate from high school and obtain a degree from Dunwoody.

A graduate of Park Center Senior High School, Hill wasn’t sure if she would be able to attend college. She had applied for a number of scholarships, but none of them had worked out. So when a case manager at a local non-profit suggested Hill apply for the YCAP scholarship at Dunwoody, she was skeptical.

“Before Dunwoody, college was nothing but a dream for me,” Hill said. “I really think this was the best decision I ever made.”

As a first-generation college student, Hill has made great strides in her education, now serving as a mentor to other YCAP members. Hill was also a student worker in the Welding Shop and testified before the Minnesota Legislature on behalf of YCAP to provide background on a bill that would give grants to pilot programs in Ramsey County focused on serving girls of color.

Hill is also the recipient of the 2017 Academic Excellence Award for the Robotics & Manufacturing Department and the Alumni Board of Managers 2017 Leadership Award.

Former YCAP student and program manager speaks at celebration

In addition to awarding the Leon Rankin Award, the year-end YCAP celebration is a time for students to reflect on their success and gear up for their future. So it was fitting that the guest speaker for the event was YCAP alum and former YCAP Program Manager Benito Matias.

From left to right: Vice President of Enrollment Management Cindy Olson, Principal of Ascension Catholic School Benito Matias, and Associate Director of Special Initiatives Peggy Quam

From left to right: Vice President of Enrollment Management Cindy Olson, Principal of Ascension Catholic School Benito Matias, and YCAP’s Associate Director of Special Initiatives Peggy Quam

Matias graduated from Patrick Henry High School and came to Dunwoody on a YCAP scholarship. After graduating from Dunwoody, Matias went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Technology from Bemidji State University.

Although his studies are in technology, Matias has spent the last 25 years in the field of education.

Matias’s educational work has included being a Dunwoody Instructor, a Minneapolis Public School District teacher, the YCAP program manager, and the Executive Director of MetroTech Career Academy. He currently serves as the Principal of Ascension Catholic School in Minneapolis.

Learn more about Dunwoody’s YCAP program at dunwoody.edu.

Academic Excellence Award: Justin Larson

Justin Larson

Justin Larson
Radiologic Technology ’17
Plymouth, MN

Justin Larson spent time exploring career options at Normandale Community College before finding a passion for radiology when he decided to transfer to Anthem College’s Radiologic Technology program in 2014.

“I really enjoyed the job I was training for at Anthem, and I wanted to go the next level up,” Larson said. “Dunwoody’s program seemed to be the best in the area with the smallest classes and great placement rates. It was better located for me, too.”

After applying for admission, Larson enrolled in Dunwoody’s Radiologic Technology program in fall 2015 and will graduate in August 2017. He is this year’s Academic Excellence Award recipient for the Radiologic Technology department.

“Justin has never missed a class or clinical,” Program Director Dave Blake said. “The program gives monthly mock exams of the national exam. He has scored the highest on these ever in the program’s history.”

Larson attributes his success in the program to his close-knit cohort and helpful instructors.

“The instructors do a great job with the small class sizes and keeping us engaged,” Larson said. “With our class in particular, there is almost like a competitive atmosphere. Not that we’re being competitive, but we’re always pushing each other to do as much as we can to improve.”

In addition to the relationships he’s forged in college, Larson feels confident in entering the workforce with his skills and experience.

“The key thing that sets Dunwoody apart in my mind is that it really prepares you for the job experience,” Larson said. “It’s not just learning the book stuff. You’re getting hands-on experience and skills that you can directly apply to your job.”

Larson will be taking the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JCERT) exam this summer. Upon successful completion of the exam, Larson will start to apply for jobs with the goal to work in a hospital doing radiology.

 

Academic Excellence Award: Peng Her

Her_Peng

Peng Her
Electrical Construction & Maintenance ’16
Fresno, California

Peng Her’s path to Dunwoody was not an easy one—but it most certainly paid off.

Growing up near Fresno, California, Her found himself living a lifestyle he didn’t want for himself anymore. Ready to make a change, he packed his bags, moved to Minnesota, and decided to apply to Dunwoody.

“When I was younger, my dad told me that I was a smart child. If I would pay attention and put my heart into what I wanted to do, I would succeed,” Her said. “As we grew up, I got distracted and was conformed to the world around me. I ended up taking the wrong roads to satisfy my needs and did not realize what my dad meant.”

“Before I started Dunwoody, my dad told me the same thing. My dad hoped that since I had grown, I would take his advice and [do] my best at Dunwoody.”

And do his best he did.

Just weeks into his first semester of Dunwoody’s Electrical Construction & Maintenance program, Her was already at the top of his class.

“Peng’s performance set the bar high for his fellow classmates,” Senior Instructor Jeff Chase said. “As a leader in the classroom, his skills created and maintained a culture that allowed students to strive for excellence.”

But Her didn’t set that bar just for himself—he wanted his classmates to reach it too.

“He never hesitated to assist his fellow classmates,” Chase said. “He always had time to explain concepts, share lecture notes, and even just give a word of encouragement to a peer.”

Her’s drive to succeed earned him a spot on the Dean’s List for every semester he attended Dunwoody. Her was also inducted into the College’s Honor Society, Phi Theta Kappa, and is the 2017 Academic Excellence Award recipient for the Construction Sciences & Building Technology department.

“[Winning the award] is an honor,” Her said. “It made me recognize that hard work pays off. It does not matter who you are or what you have done. Work hard and someone will recognize you.”

Her graduated Dunwoody in December of 2016. He has since been working as the Corporate Director of Maintenance for Lancer Hospitality, a national organization that provides food and beverage services to a number of venues including corporate cafeterias, schools, and public attractions such as the Minnesota Zoo and Como Park Zoo and Conservatory.

Academic Excellence Award: Bradley Williams

IMG_1706 copy

Bradley D. Williams
Automotive Service Technology ’17
Excelsior, Minnesota

Before enrolling in the Automotive Service Technology program at Dunwoody College of Technology, Bradley Williams hadn’t really considered a career in the automotive industry. In fact, he had originally planned on becoming a high school history teacher.

He even attended Winona State University for a year, before deciding that life in a classroom just wasn’t for him.

“I liked working with my hands,” Williams, a Minnetonka High School graduate, said. “And I’ve always enjoyed taking things apart and then putting them back together again. So I thought automotive would be a good fit.”

As it turns out, it was more than just a good fit – it was the perfect fit. Williams has excelled in his courses during the past two years and received the 2017 Academic Excellence Award in Automotive.

The accomplishment is even more impressive when combined with the fact that Williams underwent brain surgery this past fall. Early in his second year, Williams started experiencing headaches. After visiting the doctor, he learned that the headaches were caused by a tumor in his brain and he would need surgery. The news was scary, but Williams was determined to not let it stop him from earning his degree.

Scheduling the surgery over Thanksgiving break, Williams worked with faculty members to stay current with his coursework during his two and a half week recovery – studying from his bed and checking-in on a daily basis. When he returned to campus, it was like he hadn’t missed a single day.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support and help of my teachers,” Williams said.

Williams said that he discovered Dunwoody after a friend from high school attended the welding program and got a great job after graduation.

Since enrolling, he has come to love spending most of his day working with the latest and greatest in automotive technology, a trait he might have inherited from his grandfather who enjoyed a career as a diesel mechanic.

Williams said the most important lessons he’s learned at Dunwoody is to take your time, be thorough and don’t be afraid to make a mistake. “Working in the automotive field requires a lot of problem-solving and creative thinking,” he said.

Automotive technicians are in high demand, so choosing the right career path has been Williams’ biggest focus. “Having a Dunwoody degree puts you ahead of other candidates,” Williams said.

Academic Excellence Award: Cecilia Oberg

Cecilia Oberg

Cecilia Oberg
Pre-Media Technologies ‘17
St. Paul, MN

Ceclia Oberg has always had the desire to do something hands-on. So when she joined the Air Force five years ago, she signed up for an HVAC installation job, learning the trade in a compact 6-month program.

Enjoying the construction industry and wanting to follow in her father’s footsteps, Oberg began classes at Dunwoody two years ago in the Surveying & Civil Engineering program.

But after one semester in the program, Oberg felt she wanted to go in a different direction. With the guidance of Student Advisor Zac Mans, Oberg found her passion when she walked into the pre-media packaging lab.

“When I came into the design lab and talked about packaging and being able to build packages, that really sparked my interested,” Oberg said. “I really wanted to get into that.”

Serving as a leader in the classroom, Oberg immediately excelled in the program. And when it came time for her cohort to prepare for the annual Intern Showcase, Oberg was chosen as the project manager for the Intern Showcase Guidebook.

Oberg will be graduating in May as the Academic Excellence Award recipient for the Design & Graphics Technology Department.

“Oberg has brought with her a background that showcases responsibility and leadership.” Principal Instructor Pete Rivard said. “She proves herself time and again to be friendly, collaborative, creative and most importantly, very reliable.”

Oberg is currently interning at Dolan Printing as a graphic designer and production artist. After graduation, Oberg will be deployed for 6 months. Upon return, she hopes to freelance with the long-term goal of starting her own shop for packaging.