Automotive Dean’s service celebrated at annual potluck, department continues Toys for Tots donation

Dunwoody Automotive students loading up their lunch plates at the annual holiday potluck event in the Warren buildingFor the past two decades or so, Dunwoody’s Automotive Department has celebrated the holiday season in a memorable way. The Warren Building is festively decorated; long banquet tables are packed with crock-pot treats; Toys for Tots donations are collected; and students celebrate the end of their final exams and presentations.

This year, however, the annual holiday potluck was even more special than usual as students, staff and faculty bid farewell to Automotive Dean Jon Kukachka who is set to retire January 15.

Kukachka leaves Dunwoody with fond memories

Dunwoody Automotive students loading up their lunch plates at the annual holiday potluck event in the Warren building

“The holiday potlucks are definitely something that Automotive graduates remember about their time here,” Kukachka said. “I am going to miss events like these. The students have always been very special to me.”

Kukachka–who has provided the College with over 30 years of service–has been the program’s dean since 2010.

Retiring Dunwoody Automotive Dean Jon Kukachka speaking to Automotive students at the annual holiday potluck event “I have tried to be the kind of dean that students would not be afraid to talk to,” he said. “I wanted students to know that they could come to me about anything—good or bad—whatever was on their mind,” he said.

Faculty applaud student’s Toys for Tots donation

While the farewell was bittersweet, Kukachka was pleased to learn that the Automotive department did well in another  Toys for Tots fundraiser.

“The department has been donating to Toys for Tots ever since Dunwoody got involved with the program in the late ‘80s or early ‘90s,” Kukachka said. “It has become a tradition that the Auto Department does well so every year we try to instill that drive into our students.”

This year a friendly competition was implemented throughout the College with a first place prize of $150 awarded to the department who raised the most dollars and/or collected the most toys.

During the potluck, Automotive donations were totaled, revealing a grand total of about $2,000 in cash and toys—more than any other department.

Dunwoody Automotive students standing next to toys being donated to Toys for Tots

Program faculty decided to continue the season of giving by also donating their $150 winnings to the toy drive.

Kukachka says that this is the most the Automotive department has ever raised, making it a department—and quite possibly a Dunwoody—record.

Dunwoody College wishes Kukachka all the best

“This year’s potluck was very special to me,” Kukachka said.

“I will miss the people—both students and coworkers. I came here in 1980 wondering if I had made the right decision to change occupations. I know now that yes, I made the right decision to work at Dunwoody.”

On behalf of Dunwoody’s students, faculty and staff, the College wishes Kukachka all the best on his retirement.

“40 Under 40” recipient Trista Harris to speak at Dunwoody College’s 75th Diversity Forum

Trista Harris, President of Minnesota Council on Foundations

Trista Harris, President of Minnesota Council on Foundations

Join us for our 75th Diversity Forum at 12 p.m. on Jan. 14, 2016, in the Holden Center at Dunwoody College of Technology in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This Forum will feature philanthropic futurist Trista Harris.

Harris, president of the Minnesota Council on Foundations, was recently named to the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s list of “40 under 40.”

A passionate advocate for new leaders in the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors, Harris’s work has been covered by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, CNN, The New York Times and numerous social sector blogs.

Harris is also the co-author of the book How to Become a Nonprofit Rockstar and speaks internationally about using the tools of futurism in the social sector.

For questions or to RSVP, contact Dr. Leo Parvis via email at lparvis@dunwoody.edu. Dr. Parvis is a Principal Instructor and the Diversity Programs and Education Coordinator at Dunwoody College of Technology.

Dunwoody ranked #1 in Minnesota in Brookings Institution earnings data college scorecard

College rankings are often met with a mixture of eagerness, nervousness and disdain by U.S. higher education institutions. Depending on how the data is collected and evaluated, the ranking of colleges and universities can vary widely. What’s more, rankings often don’t account for institutional differences in mission and student population. And, of course, no matter how high or low, no ranking can accurately predict or describe the individual educational experiences of our students.

For a unique institution like Dunwoody — the only private, not-for-profit technical college in the Upper Midwest — traditional college rankings are especially a double-edged sword. They often reward institutional activity that the College simply isn’t going to engage in because of its specific educational philosophy and mission. Which is why a recent report by the Brooking Institution was a pleasant surprise. Titled Using earnings data to rank colleges: A value-added approach updated with College Scorecard data, the report focuses on earnings of graduates plus other indicators that are likely to lead to a high value-added education for students.

The report is based on the Obama administration’s College Scorecard database as well as other data sources and assigns colleges a score based on “Value-added to median student earnings 10 years after enrollment of 2001-02″ with the top score possible being 100.

Dunwoody College of Technology received a score of 94 out of 100 — the highest of any college or university in Minnesota.

The full methodology and list of rankings can be found on the Brookings Institution website.

In general, technical colleges scored well in this particular ranking, which is not a surprise considering that an applied education generally leads into a specific, often well-paying career path. But as report author Jonathan Rothwell notes, “there will always be serious imperfections to any effort to assess college quality. People are not randomly assigned to colleges and differ in important ways that will remain unobservable to any researcher.”

Those unobservable differences are exactly why we talk about our accomplished alumni so much and why we understand that Dunwoody’s rigorous, industry-focused, applied education is not for every student.

Since 1914, Dunwoody’s pioneering hands-on, applied education has provided students with the skills they need to have a rewarding career. It will continue to do so while it also works to improve in all areas of its mission to changes lives by building opportunities for graduates to have successful careers, to develop into leaders and entrepreneurs, and to engage in “the better performance of life’s duties.” (Quote is from the Last Will and Testament of William Hood Dunwoody)

The best way to understand Dunwoody is to visit our campus, meet our faculty and staff, and tour our classrooms, labs, shops and studios. Call us at 612-374-5800 to arrange a campus tour or RSVP for one of our monthly open houses.

Crosby Fellowship awardees announced

Four proposals were recently awarded funding through the inaugural Crosby Fellowship program.

Crosby Fellowships are awarded to Dunwoody faculty to fund projects that will significantly increase the students’ educational experience by raising the quality of instruction or curriculum development.

“When faculty have the support they need, they can provide for student experiences that will help them be more effectively prepared for the workforce,” said Associate Provost Ann Iverson.

Crosby Fellowship recipients

Congratulations to the following recipients of the 2015 Crosby Fellowship:

  1. Group work in a technical education environment, proposed by Senior Instructor Teresa Milligan. Funds for this project will allow Milligan to research and develop best practices for group work in a post-secondary technical education setting.
  1. Virtual Reality (VR) & Augmented Reality (AR) for Check-Out from the Design Library, proposed by Librarian Sarah Huber, Instructor Jon Hasssenfritz, Principal Instructor Kelly Ness, and Instructor Paula Merns. This project will support the purchase of VR and AR tools available for students to checkout in the Design Library.
  1. Developing Students with Industry Certification; American Welding Society (AWS)-Accredited Test Facility Certification, proposed by Senior Instructor Mike Reeser, Instructor Mark Schwendeman, and Senior Instructor Denise Bailey. The completion of this project will establish Dunwoody as the only AWS Accredited Test Facility (ATF) in Minnesota. This will also raise the quality of education welding students receive by increasing the level of rigor in laboratory assignments.
  1. The Minnesota Community Design Center (MCDC), proposed by Architecture Program Manager John Dwyer and Construction Management Program Manager Heather Gay. Funds for this project will support the first phase in establishing the Minnesota Community Design Center (MCDC). The MCDC would provide pro bono architecture and construction management services to Minnesota communities in need. This project would also provide a source of hands-on assignments for students and employment opportunities for recent graduates.

Construction Management adds faculty as demand for program grads continues

A rise in the number of students enrolled in Construction Management has led to the addition of two new faculty members. The increase in enrollment is both mirrored and fueled by the growth of the Minnesota construction industry.

“We went from graduating 12 students last spring to anticipating graduating 45 this spring,” said Construction Management Program Manager Heather Gay. “Construction has really come back…with a vengeance you even might say.”

Student growth brings expert faculty to campus

In an effort to accommodate the high number of interested students and the increase in job openings, Gay–who helped launch the Construction Management Bachelor’s Degree in 2012–hired Jon Hassenfritz and Rick Larrabee to join her team.

Photo of Construction Management Instructor Jon Hassenfritz

Jon Hassenfritz

Hassenfritz graduated from Dunwoody with an associate’s degree in Architectural Drafting & Estimating in 2007. After graduation, Hassenfritz joined several remodeling companies where he worked as a drafter, estimator, project manager, and salesman. Despite being new to teaching, Hassenfritz says that his recent career move into higher education has been “a very positive change.”

“I wanted to share my knowledge and help educate the future of the industry that I love,” said Hassenfritz. “I have always wanted to teach, and Dunwoody and this program are a great fit.”

Larrabee, who founded Master Builders–a general contracting business specializing in residential and light commercial construction, is also enjoying his new position.

“I appreciate the student demographics here at Dunwoody. There is a greater percentage of non-traditional students as well as students who already have construction experience. Both groups are serious about their education and are excited to be in your class, which makes teaching much more enjoyable,” he said.

Photo of Construction Management Instructor Rick Larrabee

Rick Larrabee

Larrabee brings with him many years of teaching experience. He previously taught Construction Management at UW-Stout and carpentry at Chippewa Valley Technical College. Larrabee says he decided to teach at Dunwoody because he knew the College valued “industry experience and hands-on, applied learning.”

New faculty members help improve residential construction curriculum

Both Larrabee and Hassenfritz started earlier this year and are currently full-time Construction Project Management faculty members. Since then, the Construction Management team has made a number of enhancements to the program, including improvements to the residential construction curriculum. The Construction Management team believes that these improvements will allow program graduates to enter the workforce with more career paths and better job opportunities.

“It’s what makes our program so unique,” Gay said. “With a degree in Construction Management, you can be a Project Manager, Field Engineer, Sales Manager, etc. Sometimes degrees can be so specialized you really only have one path–that’s not the case for our graduates.”

Larrabee also suspects the high need for Construction Management graduates will not falter anytime soon. “The Department of Labor projects shortages of qualified Construction Managers and skilled workers for the next several years, making jobs in the construction industry even more appealing to students making career choices,” he said. “It really is a great time for our students to be graduating from our Construction Management programs.”

Learn more about Construction Management

Dunwoody Construction Management is a stackable bachelor’s degree program. Students start by earning a certificate or an associate’s degree from Dunwoody’s two-year Construction Project Management program. Interested applicants—as well as transfer students—can then earn their bachelor’s degree in Construction Management after an additional two years of study.

Graduates of the Construction Management program take on a wide array of professional roles including project managers, construction managers, estimators, drafters, business leaders and entrepreneurs. The average annual salary for Construction Managers in the state of Minnesota is $90,340*.

Learn more about Dunwoody’s Construction Project Management and Construction Management programs.

 

 * Based on May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates for the state of Minnesota published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov.

 

HR professionals give students an inside look at the hiring process

Micah Thorson has been the President of Dunwoody’s Institute of HR professionals and hiring managers speak to students about the hiring process at large companies.Industrial Engineers (IIE) student chapter since it started about a year ago with a goal to connect students with professionals in the industry and expose them to hands-on experience.

As part of this initiative, IIE hosted a panel of HR professionals  from Liberty Carton, and 3M and a hiring manager from Target Corp. to help students understand what these hiring managers look for in successful candidates.

“The interview process can be a little more rigorous for large companies,” said Thorson, “we wanted to invite them to campus to find out what they look for so we could be better prepared.”

Writing a successful resume

Allie Rikke–an HR Generalist at Liberty Carton–mentioned that the first thing she looks for on a resume is metrics. She said, “once you start talking money, people start paying attention.” Rikke suggested that applicants applying for industrial engineer positions should translate their projects into dollars and cents to illustrate the impact of their work.

3M Sourcing Agent Amelia Simonet explained that she pays attention to leadership roles. “Stay away from words like ‘assisted’ or ‘helped,'” Simonet advised. She said she prefers to hear what the applicant took the lead on—not what the applicant helped with.

Doug Meldrum, Group Manager at Target Corp., suggested students should get involved in organizations and clubs on campus, explaining it was a great way to highlight leadership skills on a resume.

There are many clubs and organizations like IIE available to students in different program areas. Thorson encouraged participation in clubs because they “give students practical experience and build their skills to be successful in their industry,” noting that IIE is hoping to offer a six-sigma training next semester.

Preparing for behavior-based interviews

In addition to resume advice, the panel highlighted the importance of behavior-based interviewing skills, particularly for people applying for technical careers. In order to be effective in a technical position, you’ll need to be able to communicate with your team successfully, they explained.

Behavior-based interviews include questions that allow hiring professionals to learn more about an applicant’s behavior and soft skills in a work environment. This helps them understand how the applicant will work with a team.

Associate Director of Career Services Rob Borchardt is available to help students prepare for these interviews by conducting mock interviews and providing feedback on performance.

“Landing the job is all about your interview prep. There are some tricks I can give to help figure out what questions you might be asked in an interview in addition to some of the standard questions,” Borchardt said, “Practice is key, especially for those harder to answer questions.”

Learn more about the services available to students on the Career Services webpage.

To learn more about upcoming events in the Institute of Industrial Engineers organization, contact Faculty Advisor Janet Nurnberg at jnurnberg@dunwoody.edu.

Dunwoody hosts MIE meeting to help enhance international students’ experience

Dr. Leo Parvis talking to audience at October MIE Meeting at Dunwoody College of TechnologyThe College recently welcomed members from Minnesota International Educators (MIE) as they attended a board meeting on campus. The MIE is a professional association that works to help staff and educators in international student admissions and/or services create a positive experience for international students across the state of Minnesota.

“We decided to host the meeting at Dunwoody because we wanted to bring more visibility to the College. We wanted other schools to know where we are located and that we do accept international students,” said International Student Admissions Counselor Meera Weist. “It is also a great opportunity to find out what other colleges are doing and determine what we can and should incorporate here as well.”

MIE board member talking to audience at October MIE Meeting at Dunwoody College of TechnologyThe three-hour meeting included updates from the MIE and the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP); a discussion on immigration changes; and a student panel.

The panel—consisting of international students from MCAD, UM-Twin Cities and St. Olaf College who are also part of the LGTBQ community—described how their gender identity and/or sexual orientation affected their study abroad experience, and what educators can do to help improve it.

MIE board members and guests discussing updates at October MIE Meeting at Dunwoody College of TechnologyA first time event for Dunwoody, Weist says the meeting was an excellent way for the Dunwoody Admissions team to continue to understand—and enhance—international student’s stay here in the Twin Cities.

If you are an international student looking to continue your education at Dunwoody, please contact Weist at mwiest@dunwoody.edu.

Dunwoody celebrates National Rad Tech Week

Clinical Instructor Amanda Barker works with Rad Tech students on site at North Memorial Hospital.

Clinical Instructor Amanda Barker works with Rad Tech students on site at North Memorial Hospital.

National Rad Tech Week is celebrated each year by the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) to recognize the important role medical imaging and radiation therapy professionals play in patient care across the nation. The celebration takes place annually during the week that includes Nov. 8 to commemorate the discovery of the x-ray by Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen on Nov. 8, 1895.

Since the discovery of the x-ray, the Radiologic Technology field has played a key role in lowering the amount of unnecessary and exploratory surgeries and avoiding inappropriate treatments that inflate the costs of patient care.

Dunwoody offers a hands-on degree

Rad Tech students learn during their clinical rotation at North Memorial Hospital.

Rad Tech students learn during their clinical rotation at North Memorial Hospital.

Dunwoody applies its hands-on approach to the Associate of Applied Science in Radiologic Technology by providing smaller class sizes and offering a variety of clinical settings.

“The instructors care about how you are doing and are more than willing to take time out of their day to go over anything that you are struggling with,” said second-year student Eryn Kivo.

Radiologic Technology Program Manager Dave Blake explains that class sizes typically stay around 10 students. This allows each student one-on-one time with clinical instructors and equipment, gaining hands-on knowledge of radiologic technology’s best practices.

Dunwoody’s clinical partnerships

Rad Tech students work with industry standard equipment during their clinical rotations.

Rad Tech students work with industry standard equipment during their clinical rotations.

Dunwoody maintains partnerships with 10-15 different hospitals and clinics in the Twin Cities area, including North Memorial Hospital. The variety of clinical sites allows students to work with real patients in every healthcare setting and situation–from level-one trauma centers to geriatric hospitals–before they graduate.

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

“Getting to learn and apply concepts to the real world in the same week is a great learning experience,” said second-year student Alyson Stumbo. “The teachers and instructors we have are amazing and very encouraging.”

Dunwoody graduates have recently been hired by top hospitals in Minnesota like Hennepin County Medical Center, Methodist Hospital, Park Nicollet Clinics, and Fairview Southdale Hospital.

To celebrate, students will be recognized for their hard work and dedication to the field with free lunches at clinical sites this week.

 Visit the program page to learn more about the College’s Rad Tech program.