Category Archives: Student News

Software Engineering students aim to improve technology used in high-speed police car chases

Final project allows students to build skills while creating solutions for real-life challenges

Sophomores in Dunwoody’s Software Engineering program are getting an early look at what life will be like after graduation. The class is currently working on six business analysis projects with real-life clients.

Software Engineering students Ben Oluwalowo, left, and and Brendan Vandevoorde, right, work together on a software engineering project.

The projects, which will also serve as their final, provides students an opportunity to map out processes and show how technology and software can improve business practices.

But if students were expecting to improve small, predictable business processes, that’s not what they got. Instead, Software Engineering Assistant Professor John Columbus has ensured that these projects go beyond a stereotypical setting — and that some of the solutions could even be life-saving.

Students drive solutions for high-speed car chases  

“One of the projects students are working on involves identifying areas of software integration in high-speed police car chases,” Columbus explained. “I want the students to focus on real-world problems, and right now, car chases are a significant issue for the police.”

St Paul Police Officer Terry Erdman discusses high-speed chases with Software Engineering students.

To better explain the current landscape of high-speed chases, Officer Terry Erdman from the St. Paul Police Department visited the class. During his presentation, Erdman outlined the different types of car chases, the challenges of those chases, and what types of technological advancements could be made for more effective chase outcomes.

“Students learned that there are really two types of chases,” Columbus explained. “In a residential chase, suspects try to keep turning left and right to lose the police. Buildings obscure vision. Even helicopters can have issues following cars because of the trees. And during chases on highways and freeways, suspects use incredible speed to try to get away from the police.”

Both situations are dangerous for those involved and those on the road.

“If we could use technology to track the car without the suspects realizing they are being tracked,” Columbus said, “we believe the number of collisions could be reduced.”

Creating the software solution is a welcomed challenge for Brendan Vandevoorde, who already has an interest in safety and security. Vandevoorde currently works security at Valley Fair and has since spoken to several Shakopee police officers about the project.

“I learned that as of now there is a strict no pursuit policy,” he said. “So, we are now trying to come up with a way to implement a drone system for police departments. The idea is instead of having an officer pursue a chase on the road — which could cause risk to any other driver on the road — a drone would be used to follow the car from the sky.”

Vandevoorde explained that the drone would have an autopilot system capable of targeting and following the suspect’s car at all times. Law enforcement could then move on the suspect more discretely once they and the car are either off the road or in a more opportune location.

Real work, not homework

The project is a perfect example of how students can build skills — and confidence in themselves — while solving real-life problems.

“Dunwoody’s teaching style is to have students do real, meaningful work,” Columbus said. “And this project does just that. Students learn better from actually building something of value rather than completing made-up work. The skills they learn in this class can be used throughout their careers.”

Vandevoorde agrees.

“It’s a slow but very important and detailed process to go through to plan and create software,” he said. “We are still only scratching the surface of the requirements on this project. But I know this will help me be prepared for an actual job in software engineering. It’s a process that I will have to go through with any company that hires me.”

The class will continue to work on these assignments throughout the semester.

Other group projects include outlining ways to enhance the College’s student housing program and using a sensor to develop ways information can be captured and visually shared across Dunwoody departments.

Childhood travels inspire designs, career goals for Architectural Drafting & Design student

Fatima Adam looks to bright future at Dunwoody and beyond

Architectural Drafting & Design student Fatima Adam is no stranger to finding her way and forging her own path.

The oldest of three siblings, Adam was raised by her grandmother and mother in Africa. For the first 10 years of her life, she lived in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia. At age 11, Adam’s family moved to the United States in hopes of finding better opportunities.

Adam attended middle school in Boston, Massachusetts, and high school in Louisville, Kentucky. A desire for a college education then brought her to Minneapolis.

And now her travels and cultural experiences are fueling her career choices.

Inspired architecture

“I chose to pursue architecture because it’s something I knew I would enjoy learning, and I saw myself going through it,” Adam said, adding that she has always had an interest in the field. “I think my experiences have shaped why I like design and the way I like to design. All of the countries I have been to are unique and simply beautiful.”

But finding the right college to study architecture wasn’t as easy of a journey. Prior to enrolling at Dunwoody, Adam studied at two other colleges in the Twin Cities. Neither were the right fit.

“I discovered that there was no way I was going to be able sit in a classroom for two hours and listen to a lecturer,” she said.

Instead, Adam was looking for an opportunity to learn hands-on in a small classroom environment. She immediately found that at Dunwoody.

“If I had known about Dunwoody earlier, I would have gone here right away,” Adam said. “Here I feel at home and calm. I like that everyone knows each other in my program, and I have found friends.”

Following her dream

This sense of belonging has allowed Adam to finally begin what she has always wanted to: a career in architecture and a desire to do something impactful with it.

“When I graduate I want to rebuild my country, Somalia,” Adam explained. “I have learned the effects the environment around us can have on our senses and our being. As someone who grew up in other countries, I know what they have and what my country is lacking. I want to bring those things in and add more. Maybe then people would consider not leaving.”

Adam hopes her next few years at Dunwoody can help her achieve this goal. She is especially looking forward to continuing to build her skill sets and uncovering her design preferences. Currently, inspiration has struck with Japanese architecture and Moorish architecture.

“They both are completely different and in different worlds…but bringing them together? That would be a magnificent idea.”

Learn more about Architectural Drafting & Design.

Dunwoody launches Engineering in Action speaker series

New initiative brings Twin Cities engineers to campus

Dunwoody’s new Engineering in Action speaker series kicks off this week with John Callahan, Vice President of Motorcycle Engineering at Polaris Industries.

Open to all Dunwoody students, employees, and alumni and friends, the event will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 25, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Callahan will share lessons learned from his 17 years with Polaris, including his experience with new product development.

School of Engineering to benefit from series

Arts & Sciences Associate Professor Harry Edelman, coordinator of the series, said the programming was created to better introduce Dunwoody’s new School of Engineering students to potential career paths – particularly those they may not have considered before.

“Dunwoody Engineering students should be aware of the wide variety of opportunities open to them upon graduation — especially in the Twin Cities,” Edelman said. “This speaker series is intended to increase that awareness.”

The free series will continue in October and November featuring Neil Bitzenhofer and Ghassan Abdelnour.

Bitzenhofer, Software Test Engineer and Instructor at the University of Minnesota, will speak about challenges in software testing on Tuesday, Oct. 30, from 2:35 to 3:35 p.m.*

(*Updated presentation time on 10.1.18)

Abdelnour, Senior Engineering Director at Seagate Technology, will present on Tuesday, Nov. 27, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

For more information on Engineering in Action, contact Edelman at

Big plans, bigger future for WITC scholarship recipient

Dunwoody helps automotive student Amy Lee Hinz find her path

Amy Lee Hinz diagnoses a problem with the cooling system of a Honda vehicle during class.

Automotive student Amy Lee Hinz has big plans for her future. And Dunwoody’s Women in Technical Careers (WITC) scholarship is helping her achieve them.

After graduating from high school in Rush City, a small, rural town in Minnesota, Hinz was ready to see what else the world had to offer.

“I needed to go to bigger, different places,” she explained. So she packed her bags and headed to Minneapolis, planning to pursue a degree in English at a nearby liberal arts college.

It wasn’t long, however, until Hinz discovered that this was not a career path she enjoyed.

“My whole life,” Hinz explained, “My parents, my guidance counselor, my friends — everyone told me I was going to be a writer. I think I was just so young and wasn’t thinking critically for myself yet that I didn’t even consider anything else as an option.”

In an effort to find her passion, Hinz began to work a series of different jobs, ranging from online marketing to logistics to retail operations management. She even pursued a drumming career with an all-girl band.

But after nearly 10 years of trying to find something that spoke to her, Hinz recalls when she knew it was time to make a real change.

“I was climbing this corporate hill, and I realized — it wasn’t a hill I wanted to die on,” she said.

It was also then that she realized just how much she wanted to pursue a hobby that has been with her since the very beginning: fixing cars.

Coming back to Automotive

“Growing up, I would always sit out in the garage with my dad and watch him change oil, help hold the wrench,” she explained. “And, years later, I realized just how much I had grown into the car community. How I’ve done all the work on my own vehicles. How I’ve learned so many things from books and YouTube and people. And how I’ve saved hundreds and hundreds of dollars — and just how much fun it is.”

Hinz also recognized that this knowledge was a gift.

“There is a huge void of women mechanics, queer mechanics, trans mechanics,” Hinz shared. “And I think there are also a lot of people who walk into an auto shop and have a feeling that they are going to get ripped off. And it really bothered me that I had this knowledge that a lot of others didn’t have — and that I don’t have that feeling when I walk into a shop. It shouldn’t be like that. And I thought, well, I could either sit here and let it bother me, or I could become something that I saw wasn’t there.”

So in 2016, Hinz toured Dunwoody to learn more about automotive programs — and quickly discovered this is where she had to be. But paying for the education would be difficult.

“I learned I had just missed the deadline for the Women In Technical Careers scholarship, and being an unconventional, older student, I knew how much I could use that assistance,” she said.

Hinz then made the difficult decision of postponing her plans for another year in hopes she would receive the scholarship in 2017.

Her decision paid off.

WITC makes Dunwoody possible

“Receiving this scholarship means a lot,” Hinz said. “It wouldn’t be possible for me to go here in absence of the scholarship. WITC is a powerful thing. It’s given me a lot of opportunities and connections that I wouldn’t otherwise have.”

Hinz also credits having a point person, members in a cohort, and the Women’s Resource Center as other key contributors to her success.

“It really makes a difference to just know someone and know you have a place to go.”

Following graduation, Hinz has plans to start doing what got her interested in the automotive field from the very beginning: helping others.

“I’d love to develop an auto repair facility that caters to women, trans people, people of color, and then empower them to learn more about their car and how to fix it themselves,” she said.

Hinz is set to graduate from the Honda Professional Automotive Career Training program this spring.

Dunwoody College makes the U.S. News Best Colleges list in two categories

Dunwoody is 30th in Best Regional Colleges–Midwest; 4th in Best Regional Colleges for Veterans–Midwest

Dunwoody College of Technology has been named to the U.S. News Best Colleges list in the “Best Regional Colleges: Midwest Rankings” category. The rankings were released earlier this week.

Of the 91 colleges in the category, Dunwoody tied for 30th and ranked highest in the State of Minnesota. According to U.S. News, 16 measures of academic quality are factored into rankings, including retention and graduation rates, promotion of social mobility, and faculty/student ratios.

Dunwoody was also one of only eight institutions from the Regional Colleges Midwest category — and the only one from Minnesota — to make the “Best Colleges for Veterans” list, ranking fourth for veterans in the category.

Veteran and military students currently make up 12 percent of Dunwoody’s student population. Students with a military service background often find that Dunwoody’s project-based, practical education works well with their career goals.

Dunwoody provides a Veteran & Military Students Center on campus and participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which makes additional funds available to students using Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.

Dunwoody likely made gains in this year’s ranking because U.S. News added social mobility factors to its formula. The College has consistently performed well on such measures. A 2018 report ranked Dunwoody “Minnesota’s Best Career College” in terms of earning potential, finding that by mid-career most Dunwoody graduates earn around $73,600 per year. In addition, the Equality of Opportunity Project found that 20 percent of the College’s graduates moved up two or more income quintiles after earning their degrees, ranking Dunwoody second out of 31 Minnesota colleges in this category.

For the U.S. News rankings, regional colleges are defined as colleges that focus on undergraduate education, but award fewer than half of their degrees to liberal arts majors. Most colleges in the category have enrollment of 1,000 – 4,000 students. Dunwoody’s enrollment is around 1,300 students, and it is one of the few colleges in the category that offers a mix of both associate’s and bachelor’s degrees with an emphasis on engineering and other technical fields.

For more information, visit Dunwoody’s U.S. News & World Report listing.

Founded in 1914, Dunwoody College of Technology is a private, not-for-profit college committed to preparing students for great careers in STEM-related fields. Dunwoody’s active, experiential learning model has provided a hands-on, applied education to more than 250,000 men and women, who have gone on to rewarding careers as outstanding technicians, successful entrepreneurs, and industry leaders. Located on the western edge of downtown Minneapolis, Dunwoody offers more than 45 certificate, associate’s degree and bachelor’s degree programs in the areas of Automotive, Business Management, Computer Technology, Construction Sciences & Building Technology, Design & Graphics Technology, Engineering, Radiologic Technology, and Robotics & Manufacturing.

Dunwoody College Media Contacts

Jennifer McNeil: 612.381.3058,

William Morris: 612.381.3367,

New software enhances how Dunwoody students prepare for job interviews

Career Services brings Big Interview software to campus

Students looking to better prepare for a job interview can now find a helpful tool on campus — Career Services launched Big Interview software in August.

Rob Borchardt, Associate Director of Career Services, demonstrates Big Interview, a new technology available to students free of charge which allows them to practice their interview skills.

The new software not only allows students to view more than 100 video lessons on interviewing and negotiating, but also to participate in a mock job interview.

Interview practice boosts response quality, confidence

During the mock interview, an interviewer cycles through more than 1,000 pre-recorded questions, ranging from general interview questions to those that are more specific to students’ respective industries. A built-in tool also helps participants craft responses, should they not know how to best answer a particular question.

Responses are recorded and can be viewed after the interview, helping pinpoint areas of improvement. Students also have the option to send the interview to staff or faculty for further suggestions.

Implementation of Big Interview was coordinated by Associate Director of Career Services Rob Borchardt.

“Students’ biggest fear in finding a job is often the job interview,” Borchardt explained. “It’s natural to feel nervous. Often times it feels like the stakes are very high and that you may only get one shot at interviewing with a certain company. My hope is this software will help them build the confidence they need to knock an interview out of the park.”

Dunwoody helps students become industry’s best

The new software won’t just be staying in Career Services either. Big Interview practice has also been added to the curriculum of a number of Dunwoody classes that focus on career preparation.

“In order to land the job they want, students need to be able to communicate to employers their skills, strengths, and goals,” Borchardt said. “This software will help them identify what they need to communicate, why they need to communicate that, and then be able to do so in a highly professional way.

“We want our students to be the most desired candidates in their industry—and this is another tool they can use to be just that.”

For more information on Big Interview, contact Borchardt at

Dunwoody Welding fabricates sculpture for City of Minneapolis

Instructor, students, and alumni gain life-changing experience, carry on Dunwoody legacy

Accepting the challenge

 This past May, Welding & Metal Fabrication Senior Instructor Denise Bailey was approached with quite the opportunity: to fabricate a 45-foot, 18,000-pound sculpture.

Designed by visual artist Tristan Al-Haddad of Atlanta, GA, the sculpture – titled Nimbus – was commissioned by the City of Minneapolis as an extension of the Nicollet Mall redesign.

A rendering of what Nimbus will look like in the evening (Courtesy of

The job was once in a lifetime but would come with challenges.

Due to a local Minneapolis welding shop’s difficulties with heat distortion, the sculpture would have to be fabricated near the designer at Formations Studios in Atlanta. And this would require an immense amount of travel and time commitment.

But Bailey said it wasn’t long before she was sold.

“I spoke with the designer, Tristan, on the phone about the project, and 20 minutes later he had convinced me to hop on a plane to Atlanta the following week to check it out,” Bailey said. “His passion is contagious and familiar. When I got there, I knew that this project was going to be a part of my life.”

Bringing in Dunwoody

Fabricating the project alone, however, wouldn’t be realistic.

From L to R: Jane Thompson, Denise Bailey, and Tiara Hill

“The designer asked if I would like to bring a couple students down to Atlanta to help me with the project,” Bailey said. “It was an instant ‘yes.’ This is such an amazing opportunity for welders/fabricators — especially those new to the industry — to experience.”

Bailey recruited Industrial Engineering Technology student Tiara Hill, ’18 Welding Technology alum Jane Thompson, and ’18 Welding Technology alum Madison Vail to join her after seeing the three of them thrive during a previous art installation.

Jane Thompson grinding the weld so it is flush to the surface. The project required all visible welds to be ground.

Thompson was immediately on board.

Having the opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and to work hard on a project in my chosen field straight out of college is absolutely unheard of,” she said. “I could not think of a better way to discover yourself professionally, learn your field, and be certain through trial that you are doing something that is motivating, inspiring, and exciting to you.”

So on June 11 the Dunwoody team boarded a plane to Atlanta and got to work…and have been busy ever since.

“This kind of project is exactly what Dunwoody and carrying on a legacy is all about,” Bailey said. “Nimbus will be one of the most visible sculptures in the City of Minneapolis.”

Project tests, rewards Dunwoody team

Although worthwhile, the project hasn’t been easy.

Tiara Hill putting finishing detail work into the piece.

After passing a 3G Flux-Cored Arc Welding (FCAW) test, the welders got to work metal forming with 8 and 10 gauge corten steel, tackling, welding, grinding, and fixturing.“

The average work week involved 50-60 hours at temperatures of 100 degrees in the shop,” Bailey said.

But the pros have definitely outweighed the cons for Thompson.

“Learning by doing, trial and error, and actually getting your hands dirty will teach you things about yourself and your profession that a classic education will not,” Thompson said. “I can say wholeheartedly that I gained more confidence in myself as a professional in one year at Dunwoody than I did getting my bachelor’s at another four-year college.”

Thompson finished up her portion of the work at the end of July. Since then, Bailey has spent her weekends working in Atlanta. The next steps of the project include finishing the outside skin of the structure and fabricating the structural supports.

The sculpture will be installed this fall.

A rendering of what Nimbus will look like in the daytime (Courtesy of

Bailey has plans for her current second semester class to observe and possibly assist in the process.

“It is such an amazing experience to be able to not only give to the students, but to also give to the city I call home,” Bailey said. “The thing that I take the most pride in is that my team was an all-woman crew coming from a school that was founded on providing education for everyone.”

Dunwoody welcomes six new Radiologic Technology alumni

If you have broken a bone, needed a chest X-ray, or required radiation treatment, there is a growing chance that a Dunwoody graduate ran the diagnostic equipment. Since 2009, Dunwoody has awarded 127 Associate of Applied Science Degrees in Radiologic Technology.

Six more students received their graduation pins Thursday, July 12, 2018, and officially graduated from the program earlier this month. The pins are a symbol of a ceremonial tradition dating back to the days when hospitals gave out X-ray pins at the end of training. Dunwoody continues the tradition as a way of celebrating graduates and launching them into the profession.

Dunwoody reputation draws students, employers

Katy Hammond (left)

Katy Hammond of Mounds View started her academic journey pursuing another medical-related career before being drawn to Dunwoody for its course reputation.

“I think it is so interesting to see inside the body and see what happens,” she said.

Potential employers are also attracted to Dunwoody – especially to the level of experience a Dunwoody graduate exhibits.

Their first year of class, students work side-by-side with professionals in local clinics and hospitals, such as Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital and North Memorial Health Hospital. Students work in these settings two days a week, increasing to three days a week their second year.

“Everything we were learning in the classroom, we could literally take it to the clinical site and do it on a real person and not just one of our classmates,” said graduate Andrea Lamour.

David Blake, Radiologic Technology Program Manager, said, “By the time they are done with the program, students will have completed around 1,700 hours [of clinical experience.]”

Andrea Lamour (right)

“They tell us at the beginning that this is a two year interview, so when I am at the site for a year and a half, [I know] they are watching me and I am impressing them. It is very comforting knowing you are going out in the world ready,” said Lamour, who has been hired by North Memorial Health Hospital.

Hammond also credits classroom work and clinical work running simultaneously as the reason she has a job waiting for her at Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids.

“We get almost two years of experience, so I feel like I have grown so much. A couple of months ago I interviewed, and the next day they called me two months before I graduated,” Hammond said.

Students interested in becoming a radiologic technician can apply for the August 2019 fall semester.

Learn more.