Category Archives: Student News

Academic Excellence Award: Bradley Williams

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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.

Academic Excellence Award: Tiara Hill

Tiara Hill

Tiara Hill
Welding & Metal Fabrication ’17
Minneapolis, MN

Tiara Hill has never let fear stand in her way. In fact, the Minneapolis native was terrified of the sparks when she first experienced the Welding & Metal Fabrication program at Dunwoody College of Technology as a Youth Career Awareness Program student. So when it came time to choose which degree program she would enroll in, the answer was obvious – welding.

“I knew that I wanted to work with my hands, but I had no idea it would be welding,” Hill said, adding that she really enjoys the artistic side of welding.

Two years later, Hill has not only conquered her fear – she’s also excelled as a student. Hill was selected this year as both the Academic Excellence Award recipient for the Robotics & Manufacturing program area and the Student Leadership Award recipient for the Alumni Board of Managers.

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.”

Now about to graduate with her Associate in Applied Science degree, Hill is already planning to continue her education and has enrolled in the Bachelor completion program for Industrial Engineering at Dunwoody.

“What drives me to keep going is my past and knowing that there is another part of life out there that I want a chance to see and experience,” Hill said.

Hill is motivated to succeed by the people in her life. Her mother has been an inspiration at home, always encouraging her to keep going and never give up. At school, Hill said her instructors, such as Denise Bailey, have served as an amazing support system.

One day, Hill hopes to inspire and motivate others. She already has plans to start her own business, taking on smaller welding jobs, and she hopes to encourage other youth – especially women – to take an interest in technical careers.

For now, Hill is excited about her future and all of the new opportunities awaiting her.

Academic Excellence Award: Paul Steffens

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Paul Steffens
Computer Networking Systems ’17
Monroe, WI

Growing up, Paul Steffens always had a knack for technology. In high school, Steffens and his friends would master video games and build computers. His love for science and the arts led him to Ripon College in Wisconsin, where he graduated with a degree in theatre.

Following graduation, Steffens became a professional actor, landing various acting and set construction jobs in Minnesota and Wisconsin. But the career brought a certain amount of emotional and financial instability to Steffens’ life, which led to his decision to go back to school.

During his search, Steffens was introduced to the College by Dunwoody Student Advisor Zac Mans, a fellow Ripon College alum. After taking a tour, talking with faculty, and learning more about the rigorous curriculum, Steffens decided to enroll in a field he has enjoyed since the very beginning: Computer Technology.

“My liberal arts degree was more steeped in theory,” Steffens said. “Here at Dunwoody, everything is so laser-focused on this hands-on experience. That was one of the biggest attractions of the college and the program itself for me.”

A prior interest in and knowledge of computers allowed Steffens to excel quickly his first year at Dunwoody. His second semester, he was inducted into the College’s Honor Society Phi Theta Kappa. In May of 2016, he accepted a position as a member of the IT Helpdesk in the Dunwoody IT department. Now in his final semester, Steffens is on track to graduate summa cum laude.

He is also the 2017 Academic Excellence Award recipient for the Computer Technology department.

“My drive to succeed has been significantly stronger this time around, in part due to the experiences I’ve had since graduating from Ripon” Steffens said. “Reflecting on where I am in my life, where I need to be going, and where I want to be going has really lit that fire.

“I set some very strong goals for myself coming into Dunwoody. I feel vindicated that all of the work I have been putting into my education—it’s nice to know that has paid off.”

Steffens is currently interviewing for jobs. He hopes his future career will be one that allows him to apply his presentation and theatrical skills to the technical skills he’s gained at Dunwoody.

Academic Excellence Award: Andrew Johnson

Andrew Johnson, Machine Tool Technology graduate

Andrew Johnson
Machine Tool Technology ‘17
Lonsdale, MN

Andrew Johnson wasn’t entirely sure if machining was the right fit for him when he decided to tour Dunwoody College of Technology in 2012.

On his tour, Johnson expressed his concerns to Tom Larsen, the Right Skills Now for Manufacturing Instructor. Larsen inspired Johnson to apply.

“He told me that if I put the effort and hard work into it, then I can succeed in machining,” Johnson said. “He gave me the confidence to pursue machining as a career path.”

With Larsen’s encouragement and the desire to earn a higher pay in a better work environment, Johnson decided to enroll in Dunwoody’s Right Skills Now for Manufacturing program, earning his certificate in 2013.

Certificate in hand, Johnson found a job as a CNC machinist at KEB America. However, his drive to move up in his field motivated him to come back to Dunwoody in 2015 to earn his Associate of Applied Science in Machine Tool Technology.

Between both his Right Skills Now for Manufacturing certificate and his Machine Tool Technology associate’s degree, Johnson has never missed (literally) one minute of class.

Johnson will be graduating this year as the Academic Excellence Award recipient for the Robotics & Manufacturing department.

Just a year into his associate’s degree, Johnson landed a new job as a mold maker apprentice at Donatelle. After graduation, Johnson plans to stay with Donatelle and refine his skills to eventually become a master toolmaker.

“My goal is to show Donatelle that I have what it takes to get to that level,” Johnson said. “It’s going to be a lot of hard work and dedication in order to be on the ball and learn.”

Dunwoody celebrates first graduating class of WITC Scholarship Program

Women In Technical Careers (WITC) helps 16 women begin their careers in technical fields

IMG_0581On May 20, 2017, 16 Dunwoody Women In Technical Career (WITC) students will walk across a stage ready to begin the next chapter of their lives. Dunwoody is thrilled to announce that the first cohort of the WITC Scholarship Program will graduate this month.

The program, which started in 2015, was created to help women students succeed in technical degrees and careers considered “non-traditional” for women. Recipients receive a scholarship of up to $20,000 as well as childcare stipends, monthly professional development workshops, a strong peer support network, and career-focused mentoring.

“It’s very exciting to see our first class of WITC graduate,” WITC Program Manager Maggie Whitman said. “It’s been an honor to watch these students gain technical skills and confidence, and now we are seeing them secure high-paying jobs and internships. Those were the exact outcomes we were hoping for.

“College is not easy for anyone, and when you compound that challenge with being a woman in a non-traditional field, parenting, working full-time, being a first-generation college student, and the many other identities and responsibilities these students juggle, it’s very impressive.”

WITC combats obstacles that prevent students from pursuing college
Dunwoody HVACR Systems Servicing Graduate Jessica Hertel

HVACR Systems Servicing Graduate Jessica Hertel

HVACR Systems Servicing student Jessica Hertel knows about juggling responsibilities well. A mother of two, Hertel shared that deciding to pursue post-secondary education wasn’t an easy decision.

“When I first applied for college, I was so incredibly nervous. I decided and undecided thousands of times. I didn’t know if I could actually do it,” Hertel said.

But after learning about the other women who would be a part of the cohort and the additional childcare support services WITC would provide, Hertel said she was sold.

“After I spoke with Maggie, I was so excited and ready to be here because I knew that no matter what happens I will have a group of women who support me—even if it’s just emotionally. Knowing that someone would be there was really essential for me.”

Dunwoody Automotive Service Technology Graduate Beverly White

Automotive Service Technology Graduate Beverly White

Scholarship dollars are what ultimately allowed Automotive Service & Technology Student Beverly White to attend Dunwoody—her first choice for college.

“Growing up, my parents never really showed a particular interest in school,” White said. “When I got older I had to find self-interest in school. I joined a college readiness program in high school, and we toured colleges all over Minnesota. To me, college was naturally just the next step after high school. I figured if I wasn’t 100% sure on what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, a more mature learning environment might help me narrow down my options.”

White found that learning environment at Dunwoody, but other schools with lower tuition were tempting. When White learned she was accepted into the scholarship program, her dream of attending Dunwoody became a reality.

“The WITC program alone is what [allowed me] to attend Dunwoody,” White said. “I was definitely interested, but I was weighing my options with other schools that I had close to full scholarships to, or a school I wouldn’t have to take out many loans for.

“When I received the [acceptance] email from Maggie, my decision was made,” she said.

Workshops prepare students for their careers, life after college
Dunwoody Web Programming & Database Development Graduate Siri Springer

Web Programming & Database Development Graduate Siri Springer

In addition to emotional and financial support while at Dunwoody, WITC also helps women prepare for life after college.

Every month the cohort meets to touch on different professional development topics that will help them navigate workplaces where few women work. Past workshop topics have included interview preparation, public speaking, interpersonal savviness, and workplace rights such as Equal Opportunity.

During their first year of the program, students were also paired with a local, successful woman in the same profession. This partnership allowed the cohort to see first-hand that enjoying—and thriving in—a typically male-dominated profession is completely possible.

Web Programming & Database Development student Siri Springer shared that these various workshops and presentations have helped her to “feel more at ease” about entering a field with few woman.

“It’s made me feel not so stressed about it,” Springer said. “It’s totally okay, and I have the impression that I’m the one probably making a bigger deal out of it. I just go on with my day and [know that no-one] is going to single me out.”

Workshops and various speakers have also helped Engineering Drafting & Design student Jazmine Darden to feel more informed and prepared for future life events like budgeting income and purchasing a home.

Dunwoody Engineering Drafting & Design Graduate Jazmine Darden

Engineering Drafting & Design Graduate Jazmine Darden

“You learn things that you don’t learn in the classroom,” Darden said. “It’s a time to talk about the things that we don’t think about day-to-day.”

Whitman shared that the goal of each activity—and the program as a whole—was to help women gain confidence in themselves, their work, and their career paths. And as the first cohort prepares to graduate, she believes that not only have they learned to believe in themselves, they’ve inspired others to do the same.

WITC graduates leave their marks at Dunwoody

“In the scholarship essays that they wrote two years ago, many of the women in the WITC program said they hoped to one day be role models for other women and girls,” Whitman said.

And whether they realize it or not they have done just that. Over the past two years, these students have seized opportunities to speak at events for young girls, be interviewed for news articles, testify before the Minnesota legislature, promote technical education in high schools, attend conferences, and mentor new Dunwoody students.

“I am proud of the tenacity of this group of students,” she said. “I know they will continue to pay it forward and shift perceptions surrounding women and the kinds of work we can do.”

Hertel, White, Springer, and Darden will graduate on May 20, 2017, at 11 a.m. The Commencement Ceremony will be held at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Learn more about Dunwoody Commencement.

Apply for WITC.

Engineering Drafting & Design graduate Danny Treat to speak at Dunwoody Commencement

2017 Commencement student speaker Danny TreatDunwoody College of Technology is pleased to announce that this year’s student speaker for Commencement will be Engineering Drafting & Design graduate Danny Treat.

Treat has always had a lot of interests in life –Dunwoody College of Technology has given him the focus and drive he needed to steer those interests onto a promising career path.

Growing up in San Diego, Treat struggled with traditional high school but then found success at a charter school that emphasized real work experience.

With interests that spanned a wide spectrum of fields, Treat explored multiple options at a community college before admitting he just wasn’t ready for more school.

Treat was interested in several service-learning programs available through non-profit organizations. He eventually settled on a three-month commitment with Catholic Charities, helping rebuild homes in New Orleans. He continued that work with AmeriCorps, eventually serving as one of the project managers and volunteer coordinators.

A hands-on learner, Treat enjoyed the carpentry and construction aspects of the job, but he also liked the idea of helping design a project. With those interests in mind, Treat enrolled at the University of New Orleans in the naval architecture and marine engineering program.

But the four-year, traditional college model wasn’t a good fit. “There was no ‘hands-on’ learning,” Treat said, adding that it wasn’t until the final year of the program that you got to do the “fun stuff.”

By this time, Treat had met his now fiancée who was from the Twin Cities and wanted to move back to start her teaching career.

After moving to Minneapolis Treat found work installing closets and looked into joining the electrical union. Then his fiancée’s mother, who happens to be a career counselor, suggested Dunwoody as an option.

So Treat attended an Open House and checked out a number of programs eventually landing on Engineering Drafting & Design.

“When I saw the 3D printers and heard about the program, I knew that was it,” Treat said.

It was a decision he never regretted. “I felt more at home here than I did at either the community college or the four-year university,” Treat said. “I connected more.”

Treat was impressed with all of the hands-on work and has excelled in all of his coursework. Treat is also one of the 2016-17 Owen Scholarship recipients.

“I haven’t had a day when I haven’t wanted to come to school,” Treat said. After completing his current internship with Proto Labs, an on-demand manufacturer of custom prototypes using CNC machining, injection molding, and 3D printing, Treat will start a new position as a Drafter for Daikin, one of the world’s leading air conditioning manufacturers.

Commencement will take place at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 20, at the Minneapolis Convention Center

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.