Category Archives: Student News

Bachelor of Architecture graduate Gianna Madison to speak at Dunwoody’s 2018 Commencement

Photo of Gianna MadisonDunwoody College of Technology is pleased to announce that this year’s student speaker for Commencement will be Bachelor of Architecture graduate Gianna Madison.

Madison is a member of the College’s first Bachelor of Architecture graduating class.

This is not her first Dunwoody degree, however. After watching an older sibling earn a degree with the help of Dunwoody’s Youth Career Awareness Program (YCAP), Madison decided that a project-focused education was for her. She too successfully applied to YCAP and was able to earn a two-year Architectural Drafting & Estimating Technology degree in 2006.

At around the time Madison was graduating, Dunwoody launched an Interior Design program. Intrigued by the idea of focusing more on design, Madison decided to continue on at Dunwoody for an additional two years to earn an associate’s degree in Interior Design.

Following graduation, Madison worked as a Construction Project Coordinator for Anoka County. In 2014, she learned about another new Dunwoody program—a Bachelor of Architecture. Just three more years of school would transform her existing two-year year architectural drafting degree into a Bachelor of Architecture, allowing her to pursue the path to become a licensed architect. She had always wanted to be an architect and was already sold on Dunwoody’s approach to education.

This time, though, she would be going to school while working full-time. More importantly, she was now the mother of a toddler and was determined to be there for her daughter as much as possible.

Balancing all those roles wasn’t easy, but Madison has made it work.

“Sometimes I have to spend less time with my daughter in order to work late, sometimes I have to take a day off of work in order to complete a project, or sometimes I have to set homework aside over the weekend in order to attend a dance performance for my daughter,” she said. “In the end it is all about choosing what takes priority, at that moment, and why. The most difficult decision that I have had to make is giving up time with my daughter, which weighed heavy on me, but I have found it comforting to remind myself this isn’t forever, and I am doing this so that I can build a better future for my family.”

One thing that helped was receiving scholarship support, including being named a Whitney and Elizabeth MacMillan Scholar, as well as being able to participate in the Women in Technical Careers (WITC) program, which also offered a peer support network.

“The dynamic of the WITC group has been uplifting,” Madison said. “I was able to meet and be around other likeminded women — some of who faced similar obstacles — and get support on an ongoing basis.”

She also enjoyed her classes, including interacting with instructors, fellow students, and industry professionals.

“I have enjoyed being able to be a part of a team that has designed and built projects that are still standing today,” she said. “I have also appreciated being able to learn from instructors that are experts in the field of architecture.”

Madison’s favorite studio project was one located in a highly sought-after part of South Minneapolis.

“The project site was no longer affordable for the individuals who have lived within this community, even though, according to U.S. Census, most people were employed and had a college education,” she said. “Not only did this project address affordable housing and design, it also addressed common challenges that are currently present in our communities.”

According to Madison: “the most critical, yet fundamental, elements of this project included demographic research, which proved that people are not losing their homes because they are ‘lazy’ (as some would describe this community). In fact, this community is made up of the working middle class. Some individuals even work a second job just to make ends meet. The takeaway is that it is important to understand the bigger picture when it comes to building.”

Madison currently works at RSP Architects as a Senior Technician, where she is part of the Target/National Retail Team focusing primarily on Target exterior store remodels. She is excited to take the rest of the steps needed to become a licensed professional architect (including six exams!) and hopes someday to open her own firm that provides housing and related resources to low-income families.

First Dunwoody Architecture Class Prepares to Graduate

Six Dunwoody students to earn a Bachelor of Architecture degree May 17.

Six Dunwoody graduates will take a step closer to becoming architects as they walk across the stage May 17 at the College’s 2018 Commencement Ceremony. The students are the first to graduate from Dunwoody’s Bachelor of Architecture program.

The degree — which launched in fall of 2015 — is structured as a plus three stackable credential. Students enter the program with an Associate of Applied Science in Architectural Drafting & Design (or a related two-year architectural degree) and leave with a comprehensive, professional Bachelor of Architecture degree after the final three years.

Dunwoody is one of the only schools in the nation to use this structure.

Several Dunwoody Architecture graduates at a final project presentation in 2015.

Several Dunwoody Architecture graduates at a final project presentation in 2015.

“Graduating our first class is a significant milestone in the academic and professional communities throughout our region,” said Architecture Program Manager John Dwyer.

“This is the first new school of architecture in more than 100 years in Minnesota and the only Bachelor of Architecture in the state. The significance of this moment cannot be understated, particularly as our city continues to rapidly grow.”

A new approach to architecture education

 Since day one, Dunwoody’s Bachelor of Architecture has flipped the standard model of architectural education.

Instruction from actively practicing faculty; real, hands-on projects; and training on current design software and equipment gives Dunwoody Architecture students a more practical and focused education than traditional Architecture degrees — a selling point for many of the College’s students.

Tyler Bares mapping out plans for the IFP Minnesota project

Tyler Bares mapping out plans for the IFP Minnesota project

“I knew I wanted to be an architect,” soon-to-be Architecture graduate Tyler Bares said. “It was between a couple of schools and I ended up at a more traditional, 4-year college. And there, I was expecting to learn something that was not even mentioned. The first class was about the theory of design — it wasn’t what I was ready for. I hardly went to class, and I didn’t enjoy it. At the end of the year I was debating, ‘do I change schools?’ ‘Do I change majors?’ Because I just could not stand it. And that’s when I toured Dunwoody.”

The approach has also reassured students that what they are learning is valuable and relevant.

“Learning about the technical side of architecture — the software used and various building methods — before theory, makes students more employable early on,” Bares said. “I started my first job in the architecture field just after my first year.”

Ensuring students find jobs in their field during school — and immediately after — is another building block of Dunwoody Architecture. During the 2016-17 school year, each Architecture student received an average of 14.2 job inquiries.*

“Oftentimes employers prefer to hire Dunwoody students and alumni because they are confident they are going to be working with someone who has a solid technical education,” soon-to-be Architecture graduate Gianna Madison said. “The field of architecture cannot and should not be taught in a vacuum. The quality and richness of Dunwoody’s Architecture curriculum is invaluable.”

A look back

Over the last three years, Architecture students have worked on a number of real assignments with real clients, including:

Renderings from the Veterans’ Journey Home project

Renderings from the Veterans’ Journey Home project

Projects from these partnerships have ranged from developing construction documents for veterans’ housing, to building acoustic sound panels, to designing an eco-friendly kitchen and dining hall.

The students have also studied in culturally rich places like Cuba, Barcelona, Italy, New Orleans, Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco.

In 2017 and 2018, students and faculty contributed to hurricane relief in Puerto Rico.

It’s been quite the journey. And after five years, Commencement is finally in site for the Dunwoody Architecture graduates.

“I am elated to be graduating,” Madison said. “Graduation to me signifies that a huge milestone has been reached.”

And while a normal sleep schedule, time to travel, and no more homework are appealing to the grads, their biggest excitement is where their skills and talent will take them next.

 Ready for what’s next
Gianna Madison measuring space for the IFP project installation

Gianna Madison measuring space for the IFP project installation

“Currently, I am employed with RSP Architects, where I intend to continue to work full-time,” Madison said. “At some point in my career, I would like to open up my own firm that provides housing and related resources to low-income families.”

Bares will also begin working full time at his current employer, Alliiance, upon graduation. He hopes to use the knowledge and skills he’s learned to make a difference in the world — especially in places like Puerto Rico.

“After traveling to Puerto Rico last semester and working on a residential design project for a neighborhood—I’ve really grown to love the island,” Bares said. “The people there are so generous, grateful, and welcoming. In their current situation, they need help, and they want help. I really hope I can continue to travel there and help in whatever ways I can.”

This sense of global perspective and responsibility is just one of the many ways these students have made Dwyer proud.

“The graduates have a strong sense of the impact their work and decisions will have on a global community,” he said. “They are poised to apply this in the world as leaders in the profession. I know they will do very well.”

Dunwoody’s Commencement Ceremony will be held at the Minneapolis Convention Center Thursday, May 17, at 7 p.m.

Apply to Dunwoody Architecture.

*2016-17 Dunwoody Career Services Annual Report

Dunwoody College Commencement Ceremony May 17

Your guide to Dunwoody’s Spring 2018 Graduation Ceremony

Dunwoody College of Technology’s Spring 2018 Commencement is just around the corner!

Whether you’re a graduate or an attendee, here’s what to expect:

Graduate Reception

Date: Wednesday, May 16
Time: 5-7:30 p.m.
Location: Dunwoody College of Technology

Dunwoody’s Graduate Reception is a free and casual event for students and their families and friends. During the reception, graduates are encouraged to show their friends and family their work, tour the campus, and introduce them to their instructors and classmates. Hors d’oeuvres will be served.

Commencement Ceremony

Date: Thursday, May 17
Time: 7-9 p.m.
Location: Minneapolis Convention Center, 1301 Second Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55403

Dunwoody’s Commencement Ceremony is a free and dressy event for students and their families and friends. During Commencement, graduates will be recognized by their degree earned, program in which they graduated from, expected honors (if any) and awards (if any).

Graduates will individually walk across the stage and receive a diploma cover. Official diplomas will be sent via first-class mail to the address graduates have on file.

Schedule of Events:

6 p.m. | Graduates must check-in on the ground level in M100. Doors to the Auditorium will open for guests.

6:40 p.m. | Graduates will begin lining up for the processional.

7 p.m. | Graduation processional begins.

About 8:30/9 p.m. | Commencement Ceremony will come to a close.

Parking and Driving Directions

The preferred parking ramp is the 3rd Avenue Convention Center (600) ramp. For more information on parking and driving directions, visit

Ticket Information

Tickets are not required for the event, and there is no limit to the number of guests you may bring. Large groups of guests wishing to sit together are encouraged to arrive early.

Graduates will have reserved seating. Family and friends will not be permitted in the graduate area.

Academic Attire

Every graduate must wear a cap and gown to participate in Commencement. The tassel should hang on the right side of your cap. Staff will be available to assist you in getting into your gown, cap, and hood. 

Special Accommodations

Dunwoody strives to accommodate participants or guests with special needs. Please note that wheelchair accessible seats are on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Wheelchairs and scooters may be rented for Commencement from The Mobility Shop. The Mobility Shop recommends reserving your equipment online at in advance to ensure its availability.

All equipment is picked up and returned on-site at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Cameras and Video

Guests are welcome to bring cameras to Commencement. However, guests may only take pictures from their seats and should not disturb those around them. Only official photographers will be permitted in the graduates’ area and in the area around the stage.

Professional photos will be taken during the ceremony. Proofs can be viewed and photos ordered at or 1.800.424.3686. GradImages will send proofs to the graduates’ personal email.

Guests are welcome and encouraged to take photos following the ceremony. A Dunwoody backdrop will be available.

Additionally, be on the lookout for the full video of Commencement, which will be posted to

Friendly Reminders

A friendly reminder to turn off your cell phone ringer during the ceremony. Please also refrain from bringing balloons, banners, signs, noisemakers, or any other items that block the view of guests.

For more information on Commencement, visit If you have any further questions, email the Registrar’s Office at

Dunwoody students compete, place in 2018 Construct*ium Pentathlon event

Dunwoody Construction Management, Construction Project Management students bring home eight awards from annual competition.

Congratulations to all of the Dunwoody students who participated in the 2018 Construct*ium Pentathlon event! Sponsored by Wells Concrete, the annual competition—which just celebrated its third year—brings together Construction Management students from 10 local schools.

At the event, students refine and showcase the communication, leadership, and management skills needed to succeed in today’s built environment.
This year’s competitions included:
  1. Negotiations;
  2. Pecha Kucha (timed, fast-paced presentations);
  3. Toastmaster table topics (public speaking);
  4. Job interviewing; and
  5. The Pursuit (students create and present a complete proposal to win the contract for a real project).
The award standings are:

Negotiations: Tyler Fish, 3rd Place
Pecha Kucha: Dana Maier, 1st Place
Toastmaster Table Topics: Tyler Fish, 1st Place; Nathan
Swanson, 2nd Place; Dana Maier, 3rd Place
Job Interview: Melysia Cha, 1st Place
Pursuit: Matt Hackman, 5th Place
(Additional Dunwoody competitors: Matt Dahlseng, Nathan Schmidt, Dan Stenzel, Nathan Swanson, and Shantel Volker)
Overall Pentathlon Winners: Dana Maier, 3rd Place; Tyler Fish, 4th Place

Construction Project Management senior instructors Matt Durand and Karie Johnson—who helped the students prepare for the competition—said they hope to make this competition an annual Dunwoody tradition.

Construction Management students benefit from sitting down with industry representatives

Mock interviews = real life lessons

The interviews may not have been “real,” but there was real benefit in the experience.

This April, representatives from 12 companies in the construction industry led mock interviews with 12 Dunwoody students in the Construction Management and Construction Project Management program areas. The students walked away with their questions answered and gained some tips and advice to keep in mind when applying for future positions.

Participating companies included: Prominent Construction, LLC; Constructive Builders; H&B Elevators; Kraus-Anderson Companies; Inside Edge CIS; Parsons; Mortenson Construction; Trex Commercial Products, Inc.; CliqStudios/Wayzata Home Products; David Weekley Homes; and Apex Construction & Tile.

Student takeaways

“What I learned from the mock interview was things to keep in mind about the company I interview with – finding out about a company’s values – especially as it relates to the employees.  The most helpful tip was how to focus on my strengths and relay this to a perspective employer and their Human Resources department.”

-Dana Maier, Construction Project Management, expected graduation May 2018

“The mock interview was a great opportunity to get in front of potential industry employers in a pressure-free environment with instant feedback to responses as the questions were asked.”

-Travis Northway, Construction Management, expected graduation May 2019

“What I learned from participating in the mock interview was that you should always come prepared with questions for the company. You want to know what they will do for you just as much as what you will do for them. What I found most helpful was that the recruiters helped us refine our resumes and helped us with how to answer questions.”

-Tyler Fish, Construction Project Management, expected graduation May 2019

“These types of mock interviews give students, such as myself, adequate exposure to what a real life interview is comprised of. You get a firsthand look into what verbal and mental skills may be required to succeed. All that paired with interviewers giving instantaneous, genuine feedback helps me build a platform for continuous growth in my field.”

-Kyle Bliss, Construction Management, expected graduation May 2018


Computer Technology students build gaming desktop for Make-A-Wish recipient

Dunwoody partners with Make-A-Wish Minnesota

Photo of two students with a computer case

Dunwoody Computer Technology students preparing the case of the computer before installing all of the components. Note the three fans on the unit. Those, plus the water-cooling system, will keep the computer from overheating when playing graphically demanding video games.

A group of six Computer Technology students volunteered on a Saturday last month to grant a wish for a teenager with a critical illness by building him a high-end gaming desktop. The effort was coordinated by Make-A-Wish Minnesota.

In order to maximize the computing power, Dunwoody students and faculty sourced individual components for the desktop. The students guided the wish recipient through the assembly of the computer, which included the installation and configuration of Windows 10 Pro.

The desktop build included:

  • Intel Core i7 7800X X-series Processor (water cooled)
  • 16GB RAM
  • GTX1070 Graphics card (8GB DDR5)
  • 250GB SSD
  • 4TB Hard Drive
  • 1000 watt power supply
  • CORSAIR Gaming K95 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
  • CORSAIR – M65 PRO RGB Optical Gaming Mouse

All students in Dunwoody’s Computer Technology degree programs—including Computer Networking Systems and Web Programming & Database Development—take a course their first semester that introduces them to the basics of computer systems, including hardware and operating systems.

Machine Tool Technology students showcase their creative thinking in Rube Goldberg Machine project

Rube Gold·berg (adj.)
ingeniously or unnecessarily complicated in design or construction.

It took them weeks to build, included hundreds of parts and dozens of steps—and it was over in a matter of minutes.

But the end result couldn’t have been more perfect.

Five teams—each comprised of three Machine Tool Technology students—recently demonstrated their creative thinking and problem-solving skills when they were challenged to build a Rube Goldberg machine.

Each machine was to involve a series of devices performing simple tasks, all linked together to produce a domino effect in which activating one device would trigger the next.

A minimum of 10 steps per machine was required.

Students push project bounds further

If all of that wasn’t complicated enough, the students decided they also needed to up the ante. Part way into the project, the teams decided that every one of the machines should also be linked, and that the last step in each machine should  trigger the first step in the next team’s machine.

And it was up to each team individually to decide exactly how that would be accomplished.

The results were both creative and ingenious and included everything from balls rolling down ramps to sound activation that played “Eye of the Tiger.”

“It all worked flawlessly,” said Russ Gallaway, a Machine Tool Technology student.

From L to R: Yong Pha,  Marc Leahy, and Russ Gallaway

That “flawlessness” was the result of working one to two days a week for about a month on the project. When completed, each machine was about 4 feet deep and 5 feet tall.

“It was all about creative problem solving,” Gallaway said, adding that his team, which included Young Pha and Marc Leahy, put their machine together with spare parts they scrounged from home and found in the trash.

Learn more about Machine Tool Technology.

Five Dunwoody students place in 2018 SkillsUSA State Competition

Two students advance to SkillsUSA Nationals.

Dunwoody College students performed well at the 2018 SkillsUSA State Competition late last month, bringing home two 1st place medals, two 2nd place medals, and one 3rd place medal.

Electrical Construction & Maintenance student Matthew Longendyke placed first in the Related Technical Math competition; Architecture students Karla Schmitt, Garrett VanRoekel, and Helena Perez placed first, second, and third respectively in the Architectural Drafting competition; and Automotive Collision Repair & Refinishing student Angel Paucar placed second in the Collision Repair competition.

Automotive Collision Repair & Refinishing students Tyler Thompson and Cody Huset, and Electrical Construction & Maintenance students Michael Notch, Angela Arndt, and Andrew Prestegaard also competed.

“SkillsUSA competitions provide so many benefits for the students,” Polly Friendshuh, SkillsUSA Coordinator and Competition Advisor, shared. “It’s not just a resume builder, but it’s also something that gives students a sense of pride and accomplishment. It is a way for them to show off the skills they have learned.”

Dunwoody heads to Nationals

Both Longendyke and Schmitt will advance to the SkillsUSA Nationals Competition in Louisville, KY, this June. This will be Longendyke’s second time competing nationally in the Related Technical Math contest. In 2017, he placed fourth overall.

“I always enjoy watching students participate in their events,” Friendshuh said. “You can literally see the nerves disappear when they are focusing on their projects.

“I am proud of each of our competitors in all the contests—especially for just for putting themselves out there.”

SkillsUSA: a Dunwoody tradition

Dunwoody has been proudly participating in SkillsUSA Minnesota for many years.

The competition, which celebrated its 51st anniversary this year, aims to bring together students, teachers, and industry to ensure America has a skilled workforce.

The College will participate again in the 2019 competition.

If you are interested in joining the 2019 SkillsUSA team, please contact Associate Director of Career Services Rob Borchardt at 612.381.3322 or