Academic Excellence Award Student News

Academic Excellence Winner – Erich Beckmann, Robotics & Manufacturing

Erich Beckmann has always been a designer, a maker, and a problem solver.

From an early age it would not be surprising to find Beckmann and his brothers taking things apart in their garage and reconstructing them in different ways to create new contraptions, or building forts out in the woods behind their home in Albany, Minn.

“I remember we might take a tire off of one bike and attach it to another to turn it into a three-wheeled bike. Or find ways to attach trailers onto lawnmowers and drive them through the woods,” he said. 

Arguably one of the more creative modifications he remembers taking on was when they decided to turn their sandbox into a hot tub. Though the design may not have been entirely successful in the long run, it was still a fairly innovative idea for an 8 year old.

Beckmann has always tried to see things from new and different perspectives, and has enjoyed being able to channel his creativity through a variety of outlets. 

In fact, in 2008 Beckmann completed an Associate’s degree in Media Production from MCTC, gaining skills in audio, video and digital media production. After working a few years for a video production company, he worked in a number of hands-on job opportunities from large scale printing, to vending repair and installation, to carpentry. While each position was inherently quite different, they each allowed him to tap into his varied interests, challenged him to approach problems from new angles – and kept him busy, working in hands-on fields.

Needless to say, Beckmann has always had a maker’s mindset and continuously seeks innovative ways to put his talents to use designing, building, and solving problems. And a few years ago, that drive led him to Dunwoody.

Beckman knew about the College through close friends who had attended over the years in different programs areas, and was initially drawn to the hands-on approach, small class sizes and job placement rates. But it was specifically what he knew he could learn through the Engineering Drafting & Design (MDES) program that interested him most. 

Having spent so much time putting pen to paper, designing and planning out projects freehand over the years, he was excited to apply his skill set in a different way. Through the MDES program he would be able to delve deeper into design software, CAD/CAM programs, and learn more about 3D modeling and prototyping.

Beckmann took this opportunity and ran with it, charging forward with the same level of commitment and motivation that he puts into all of the challenges he takes on. 

“By nature, I am very competitive,” Beckman said, “but the way I look at college in general – why wouldn’t you do the best that you can?”

He values hard work, and wants to be sure that if his name is on something, it is something that he can be proud of – not that he just put in the effort that was required to get the job done. And that level of commitment did not go unnoticed.

“Erich has been a model student during his time in the program, shown in both the quality of his own personal work and as a dependable team member in group projects,” said Alex Wong, Assistant Professor of Engineering Drafting & Design. “In addition to his academic work within this program, one of his major milestones during school was getting one of the instructors started in filming lectures and demos in the machine shop lab last year, coming in to help and utilizing an additional skillset to his talents as a mechanical design student.”

Building on previous experience and applying his skillset in new ways, Beckmann appreciated the opportunities to take on challenges and collaborate with others.

“Working with your classmates offers a good representation of who you might be working with in the industry. Everyone is at a different skill level and stage of life. It gives you a chance to appreciate the points of view that people bring in, appreciate those that you can build a connection with, and teaches you how to adapt, manage and cope.”

That readiness to reach out and build connections also helped Beckmann secure an internship while attending Dunwoody, though he appreciates the extra steps his instructors Edo Krivdic and department Dean E.J. Daigle took to help facilitate the opportunity.

He remembers that Krivdic had arranged for a representative from Graco to come in and speak with his class about their company, and that they happened to be in on a day when another event called Focus Friday was also scheduled to take place. The representatives from Graco stuck around and continued to field questions from students and speak more in depth about what they do. 

Beckmann not only took the opportunity to connect with Graco at those events, but again a short time later at the Dunwoody Career Fair. He was grateful to be afforded the opportunity to make that face-to-face connection with an employer, and appreciates the efforts put forth to make that happen. 

“It is very apparent that the staff and faculty want you to get a job. The time and the effort that they put in – other places would not have put in that much effort.”

Beckmann is excited to have accepted a full-time position at Graco as a Product Design Drafter, which he will begin after graduation, and where he will undoubtedly continue to be a designer, a maker, and a problem solver.