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

IMG_1769

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.”

Employee Spotlight: Andy Stevens

A Q&A with Industrial Engineering Senior Instructor Andy Stevens

AndyStevens

Hometown: Browerville, MN
College: St. Cloud State
Degrees: B.S. in Operations Management, Masters in Business Administration (Currently pursuing a M.S. in Manufacturing Engineering at UW-Stout)
Certifications: Professional Engineering Manager (PEM), Certified Manufacturing Engineer (CMfgE), Mini-Master in Lean Manufacturing

How long have you been working at Dunwoody?

I had the opportunity to start working at Dunwoody as an adjunct instructor spring 2017 semester and started as a full-time instructor in March. It feels like time has flown by, and I can’t believe we are almost the end of the semester.

Why did you decide to work at Dunwoody?

Dunwoody is one of the best-kept secrets in the Twin Cities, and I’ve admired Dunwoody for years as a hands-on, high-tech college. I’ve always wanted to get into teaching and when the opportunity presented itself, I went for it! I’m grateful for the opportunity.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Interacting with students is extremely enjoyable! Whether that is in the classroom during a lecture and discussion or outside the classroom answering questions and giving guidance. In second, I would say it is the constant learning and reinforcing the depth of industrial engineering knowledge.

What are a few of your hobbies?

I love making “stuff”. I guess that’s why I have a passion for manufacturing in general! Some of the things I make are homemade beer/wine, soap, canning all kinds of things out of the garden, and many other homemade products. I also enjoy gardening, being outdoors, and marksmanship.

What is the best concert you’ve ever been to?

1998 – The George Strait Country Music festival at the Metrodome or The Zelda Orchestra at the Orpheum just a few years ago.

What is the one thing in the world you are most proud of?

Beyond a doubt the one thing I am most proud of is being married to my wife, Heidi. We have been together for almost seven years and along the way she has supported whatever “crazy idea” I get; from quitting a job and starting my own consulting business, coming up with some new hobby that turns the house upside down, or anything in between. She is 100% supportive of my endeavors regardless of how big or crazy the idea may seem.

Fun Facts:
  • In high school I worked at a horse ranch as a wrangler year-round. Growing up, I also raised huskies for dogsledding and actually participated in races!
  • I’ve spent about 15 years in industry, ranging in titles as a Manufacturing Engineering Manager, Industrial Engineer, CI Engineer, Manufacturing Engineer, Project Manager, and others.
  • When I was a consultant project manager, I traveled all over the United States and was able to see LOTS of different manufacturing companies. From making egg patties in New Jersey, to truck transmission castings in Kentucky, to air conditioners in Louisiana, or the best smelling facility I have ever been in: a microwave bacon company in northern Iowa!
  • I started my own consulting business and keep it going on the side to this day. I focus on helping companies with operations management and industrial engineering problems/opportunities.
  • I’m PUMPED to be an instructor at Dunwoody!

In Memoriam: President Emeritus Warren Phillips

Photo of Warren Phillips from 2014

President Emeritus Warren Phillips at Dunwoody’s Centennial Gala

Warren Phillips, who had a long and illustrious career at Dunwoody College of Technology and served as the College’s President from 1978 until 1989, died at his home in Athens, GA, on April 7, 2017. He was 90.

Phillips graduated from University of Wisconsin-Stout in 1950. He spent his early career involved in international education, including being part of a project team from Dunwoody that taught at and advised the Indonesian Technical Training Institute in Bandung, Indonesia. He also completed a study on the program for the Ford Foundation. By the end of the project, Dunwoody had administered more than $1.1 million in Ford Foundation Grants. He returned to Minnesota in 1960 and held several roles in Dunwoody’s International Services Division and other areas of the College.

In 1974, Phillips became Director of the Day School. He was named Executive Vice President of Dunwoody in 1977 and then became President just a year later.

A photo of Warren Phillips and his team during his tenure as president

Warren Phillips and his team during his tenure as president of Dunwoody

Throughout his long career at Dunwoody, Phillips instituted many of the events and programs that make the College what it is today. He started the 50-Year Club annual luncheon, which celebrates alumni who graduated half a century earlier; instituted the Alumni Achievement Award, Institutional Advancement Award, Partnership Award, and Alumni Entrepreneur Award; enhanced the Program Advisory Committees (which bring industry professionals on campus to advise faculty on curriculum and industry trends); and held the first alumni reunion in Arizona–all of which continue to this day. Phillips launched the Youth Career Awareness Program (YCAP), which helps high school students from disadvantaged backgrounds explore technical fields and prepare for college as well as provides scholarship support for those who enroll at Dunwoody. YCAP has assisted more than 1,300 students since it began in 1988.

Phillips presided over a key period of change at Dunwoody as it responded to the computer revolution and other technology changes. He supported efforts to increase the enrollment of women and students of color. He worked with the Board of Trustees to establish a formal approach to seek private funding to support Dunwoody’s nonprofit mission. He led the 75th Anniversary Campaign, which raised $7.8 million in philanthropic gifts. After retirement, Phillips continued to support the College, including its successful bid for regional accreditation and its ongoing fundraising efforts. His passion for hands-on education and his dedication to Dunwoody’s employees and students was a hallmark of his career.

A memorial service for Warren Phillips will be held on May 13 in Excelsior, Minn.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial gifts be made to:

Dunwoody College of Technology
Warren & Arlene Phillips Endowed Scholarship Fund
818 Dunwoody Boulevard
Minneapolis, MN 55403

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.

Mock Interviews gear Dunwoody students up for life after college

Youth Career Awareness Program (YCAP) students learn many life skills during their monthly workshops. The latest month: how to interview for a job.

IMG_0989On Thursday, April 6, Dunwoody College of Technology Youth Career Awareness Program (YCAP) students brushed off their résumés and prepared for mock interview sessions with the City of Lakes Rotary Club.

The Rotary Club has been conducting mock interviews with YCAP students for several years.

“This is one of the Rotary Club’s projects that they really take great pride in,” said Associate Director of Special Initiatives, YCAP Peggy Quam. “It’s their way to give back and stay connected to YCAP.”

YCAP students find mock interviews a valuable learning experience

IMG_1036The mock interviews took place in the College’s Decker Auditorium where each student was paired up with a Rotary Club member for 25 minutes. During that time, students conducted an informational interview and then collected feedback from their partner on their skills. Students interviewed with three different professionals throughout the evening.

“It was a really good learning experience for us,” YCAP student Donald Posterick said. “It was good for getting used to how to act in an interview and strengthening the skills I need to talk to people.”

IMG_0979YCAP Student Erik Ernst had only done a few interviews in the past, and those interviewers hadn’t offered any feedback. “So it was interesting to hear what I had done well and what I needed to work on in the future,” Ernst said.

Preparing for a mock interview

To prepare, students were asked to refine their résumé with Associate Director of Career Services Rob Borchardt.

Borchardt works one-on-one with students every day to make sure they feel confident for their upcoming interviews and their résumés are attractive to employers.

IMG_0982“A well-written résumé is the key to a job interview, so it’s vital that students are able to communicate their skills, experience, and strengths,” Borchardt said. “Dunwoody students are top candidates and a great resume provides a major leg up in any of our students’ job searches.”

About YCAP

Since 1988, Dunwoody College’s YCAP has helped more than 1,300 students gain access to a college education.

YCAP’s mission is to enhance the career opportunities of underrepresented youth by empowering them to graduate from high school and earn a degree from Dunwoody.

YCAP students complete a six-week paid summer internship filled with career exploration, field trips, and college-readiness courses. After the camp, students are eligible for a $20,000 scholarship to attend Dunwoody.

Learn more at dunwoody.edu/ycap.

Polar Explorer Will Steger to Keynote Dunwoody College 2017 Commencement

Will Steger headshotDunwoody College of Technology is pleased to announce that Will Steger– environmentalist, author, educator, and explorer–will be the keynote speaker at the College’s Commencement on Saturday, May 20, at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Steger is known for his numerous polar expeditions, deep understanding of the environment, and his efforts to raise international awareness to environmental threats. Steger has been an eyewitness to climate change. He has traveled tens of thousands of miles over 50 years leading teams on some of the most significant polar expeditions in history.

Steger received his B.S. in Geology and M.A. in Education at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN. Steger joined Amelia Earhart, Robert Peary and Roald Amundsen in receiving the National Geographic Society’s prestigious John Oliver La Gorce Medal in 1995. In 1996, he became the National Geographic Society’s first Explorer-in-Residence. He has received the Explorers Club Finn Ronne Memorial and Lowell Thomas Awards and the Lindbergh Award. Steger is the author of four books: Over the Top of the World, Crossing Antarctica, North to the Pole, and Saving the Earth and has received several Honorary Doctorate degrees.

Steger is the founder of two nonprofits, the Will Steger Wilderness Center in Ely, MN, dedicated to innovation and leadership in a wilderness setting; and Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy, headquartered in Minneapolis, with a focus on engaging educators, youth, and communities in solutions to climate change.