Student Spotlight: Aaron McCauley-Aburto

Student Spotlight
Aaron McCauley-Aburto, Bachelor of Architecture
Expected Graduation: May 2019

Aaron McCauley-Aburto is a military veteran and part of the first group of students who are enrolled in the Bachelor of Architecture program here at Dunwoody.

“There is a huge sense of ownership in the program,” McCauley-Aburto said. “Not only do we get to be founders in a new architecture program, but we get to have ownership in a new architectural style of learning, where we place emphasis on technical abilities and learning our tools first and then we transition into theory. I respond really well to that.”

Women in Technical Careers (WITC) scholarship recipient Jessica Hertel testifies in Minnesota State Legislature to help student parents

Hertel joins MN Representative Ilhan Omar, author of both bills, to advocate for additional support services to parents pursuing postsecondary education.

Jessica Hertel

Dunwoody College Student Jessica Hertel

Dunwoody College of Technology student Jessica Hertel testified before the Minnesota House of Representatives Higher Education Committee earlier last month, encouraging the passing of two new bills that would provide additional support services to pregnant students or student parents.

The first bill, House File 2257, which would increase the amount of the child care grant for college students from $2,800/per child, per semester to $3,000/per child, per semester as well as increase the eligibility to students who attend college from 8 semesters or less to 10 semesters or less.

The second bill, House File 1577, would fund grants to colleges for student parent support programs. Grants could be used for campus childcare services, Student Parent Programs such as support groups of other student parents, and additional assistance with childcare, housing, and transportation.

Childcare stipends help makes postsecondary education for parents possible
Hertel testifying in Minnesota State Legislature with MN Representative and Bill Author Ilhan Omar 

Hertel testifying in Minnesota State Legislature with MN Representative and Bill Author Ilhan Omar

Hertel shared that her reason for testifying was to advocate for other student parents, like herself, who need and have benefited from extra support. Hertel has received the existing child-care grant for the last two years.

“This bill hits home for me,” Hertel said. “I don’t know if I’d be here right now if it wasn’t for that grant. That’s what it comes down to.”

Dunwoody’s WITC scholarship program provides additional support services to women

Hertel applied to Dunwoody’s HVACR Systems Servicing associate’s degree program in May of 2015. Shortly after being accepted to Dunwoody, she was accepted into the College’s Women In Technical Careers (WITC) scholarship program. Led by Program Manager of Women in Technical Careers Maggie Whitman, the program was created to help women students succeed in degrees often defined as “non-traditional” for women. The program also serves as a strong peer support network for women, approximately 1/3 of whom are also parents.

Hertel measuring conduit at Dunwoody College

Hertel measuring conduit at Dunwoody College

Program participants receive up to $20,000 in scholarships, $1,500 of which can be put towards a childcare stipend.

Hertel said that this level of support not only sold her on Dunwoody but college in general.

“After talking with Maggie about WITC and all of the support [we’d receive]—that was exactly what I needed,” Hertel said. “I was so nervous. I was so on the line about even going to college, but, after talking to her I was like, ‘I’m in. Let’s do it. This is my place. This is where I belong.’”

Hertel is set to graduate this May.

Learn more

A video of Omar and Hertel at the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee can be found on the Minnesota House of Representative’s website.

Learn more about Women in Technical Careers (WITC).

Dunwoody Surveying takes 2nd in 2017 NSPS Student Competition

Dunwoody students place in competition for second year in a row.

Second-year students and soon-to-be-graduates Patrick Kowal, Francis Maranga, and Curtis Meriam took home a 2nd place trophy in the associate’s degree category at the 2017 NSPS Student Competition earlier this month.

Photo of Dunwoody Surveying students at the 2017 NSPS CompetitionThe annual event is organized by the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) and is held in various locations across the country each year. This year the competition was held in Silver Spring, Maryland. This is the second time Dunwoody College has participated. 

Competition, critique from judges helps students prepare for their career

Nine teams of students enrolled in surveying and geometrics associate and bachelor degree programs participated in the 2017 event.

In order to participate, student teams were required to complete a project on the topic of “high-precision vertical control applications” prior to the competition. At the event, the students presented their project and findings to a general audience and a panel of four judges. They also took questions and received project feedback from the panel.

“Dunwoody students chose to study the effect of moisture and frost on the vertical position of surveying monuments,” said Kelly Ness, Surveying & Civil Engineering Technology Principal Instructor and Team Leader.

“The group concluded that survey points could move up to an inch and a half vertically between pre-frost and post-frost. This phenomenon could have large impacts on surveying projects that span through the Minnesota winters.”

A press release by NSPS said that event judges and audience members were impressed by the poise and organization of the student teams. Professional surveyors in the audience also commented on the great promise shown by all of the students.

An interview with the Dunwoody student team at the competition can be found on the NSPS YouTube channel.

Kowal, Maranga, and Meriam are set to graduate in May.

Learn more about Dunwoody Surveying.

KARE 11’s Kim Insley to speak at Dunwoody Diversity Forum

News Anchor Kim Insley will be speaking at Dunwoody’s March Diversity Forum in celebration of Women’s History Month.

Kim_InsleyDunwoody College of Technology is excited to announce that KARE 11 News Anchor, Reporter, and Content Provider Kim Insley will be the speaker during the next Diversity Forum from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, March 23, in the College’s McNamara Center. The Forum will focus on Women’s History Month.

Insley has been anchoring KARE 11 Sunrise since April 1993. In addition to bringing viewers the first news of the day Monday through Friday, Insley produces and reports for the Emmy-award winning “What’s Cool in Our School” segment every Thursday during the school year. She is the 2009 recipient of the Upper Midwest Chapter Regional Emmy award for best On-Camera Talent, news anchor.

All are welcome to attend the Forum and light refreshments will be served.

To RSVP, contact Dr. Leo Parvis at Parvis is a Principal Instructor in the Arts & Sciences department and the College’s Diversity Programs & Education Coordinator.

Q&A with a Dunwoody Construction Project Supervision Alum

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 11.02.38 AMDunwoody alumni are innovators, entrepreneurs, top technicians, and skilled workers.  Here is a quick Q&A with just one!

Sarah Pendergast, ’13 Construction Project Supervision, ’12 Interior Design

Construction Coordinator, Northern Tool & Equipment

Q. Where is the weirdest place you have ever met a fellow alum?

A. I was on a blind date with one. We started talking about our education history and I found out he graduated the year before I started at Dunwoody. Ha, small world.

Q. Has there been a moment in your career when you thought “My job is awesome!” and what was that moment?

A. Yes, when I was on the company’s private jet for a quick three-day trip to visit a few of our stores in Florida.

Q. What would your classmates be surprised to know about you now?

A. That I was a Project Manager and built a church in Maple Grove so soon after graduation.

Q. What is your favorite memory of Dunwoody?

A. So many good memories to choose from. My favorite is when I was able to join the 50th Alumni Reunion with my father in 2013. He was in the graduating class of 1963.

Dunwoody College names Associate Dean of Students

Dunwoody hires 10-year student services veteran to assist with student accommodations and support.

Associate Dean of Students John Richardson

Associate Dean of Students John Richardson

Dunwoody College of Technology is delighted to name John Richardson as the new Associate Dean of Students. Richardson will assist Dean of Students Kelli Sattler in student affairs, particularly focusing on student accommodations and support.

A 10-year veteran in student services, Richardson comes to Dunwoody from The Art Institute of Colorado where he served as the Director of Student Services.

“My favorite part of working with students is seeing students grow and graduate with great jobs,” Richardson said.

Richardson holds a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology from the University of Denver and has experience working with students on housing, disability services, counseling, programming, student leadership, and veteran affairs support.

“What I like about Dunwoody is how it’s a technical school, and it’s much more hands-on. The type of student here is different than a liberal arts college, and I enjoy the career-focus,” Richardson said. “And I really like all the cool equipment and technology here.”

In Richardson’s spare time, he enjoys trail running, cycling, fishing, snowboarding, and taking his kids camping.

Richardson can be reached in the Pinska Center or by email at

Changing Lives Through Scholarships: Paige Fischer

Scholarship Spotlight
Paige Fischer, Industrial Engineering Technology
Expected Graduation: May 2019
Women In Technical Careers (WITC) Scholarship, Graco Scholarship

Industrial Engineering Technology student Paige Fischer always knew she wanted a hands-on career. Now in her second year at Dunwoody she is looking forward to a career as a manufacturing engineer in the medical device industry after she graduates.

“I’m excited to be a manufacturing engineer with a machinist background. My dream job is a medical manufacturing engineer,” Fischer said. “The motivation is being able to be a woman who makes differences.”

The entrepreneur: an alum profile

Meet Jack Mowry, ’48 Engineering Drafting & Design Technology

Photo of Jack MowryOn paper, Jack Mowry’s two companies, Metal Craft in Elk River, Minn. and Riverside Machine and Engineering in Chippewa Falls, Wisc., employ around 225 people.

“But we think of it as 225 families,” says Jack, ’71 Engineering Drafting & Design. “We have all these families who depend on us to do our jobs, and we depend on them to do their jobs. We all work together to make a nice living.”

Jack is now semi-retired, helping his children Sean and Trisha, the current owners, learn the business.

“I don’t think I’ll ever completely leave the business,” says Jack. “I’ll always be here.”

Jack grew up in Pine City, Minn. and Howard City, S.D., with eight brothers and sisters. When a high school teacher gently told Jack he wasn’t cut out for industrial engineering, he didn’t listen. Instead, when he heard that Dunwoody was offering a six-month tool and die program to help meet an urgent industry need, he enrolled.

“At the beginning of the course they told us they’d make sure that the top half of the class got jobs, and that the bottom half was on their own,” remembers Jack, though he suspects that nearly everyone got jobs anyway. “Dunwoody gave me confidence. When I left there I had no doubt I could do whatever I wanted to do.”

Later, when he wanted to learn more about designing parts to take on more responsible work for his employer, he completed Dunwoody’s mechanical design program.

Confident that he could do even more challenging work, in 1978 Jack returned to machining and founded Metal Craft in a 200 square-foot basement with just a couple of milling machines and a saw. Shortly thereafter, the stakes went up considerably when the company bought its first CNC (Computer Numeric Control) milling machine at a cost of $39,000.

“That was more than I paid for my house,” says Jack.

Since then, his shops have evolved dramatically and kept up with emerging technology. In 1996, Jack acquired Riverside Engineering  in Chippewa Falls from Cray Research.

“The change in the equipment since I started is so dramatic,” explains Jack. “Today we machine with laser, wire and water. The changes are just phenomenal. It’s like going from the dark ages to now.”

About 25 percent of the business is involved with aerospace and defense manufacturing, and 75 percent is machining close-tolerance parts for surgical instruments and implants.

“The work we do is complex in more ways than one,” says Jack. “We have to trace every step of the job to ensure that we haven’t added any new chemicals or processes without notifying the customers.”

Today, engineers are involved in all steps of production, from quoting to processing to inspection.

“The hardest part of being in business is getting good, qualified people who can help you,” says Jack. “What upsets me most is that we don’t have enough women applying for these machining and engineering jobs. Some think that it’s a dirty, grimy job, but it’s not.  It’s a clean job, and you don’t have to bow your head to anybody, because it’s an occupation that will always keep you employed.”