Category Archives: Events

Community Open House marks another year of change, progression at Dunwoody

Dunwoody celebrates new space, thriving initiatives, and five years of enrollment growth

On September 28, 2018, Dunwoody celebrated a milestone: the grand opening of the College’s new Learning Commons and Welcome Center.

Cliff Anderson, Ray Newkirk, and President Rich Wagner participate in a ribbon cutting for the new space.

Current students, employees, members of the community, alumni, and Dunwoody supporters all attended the unveiling, where they were able to tour the renovation and learn about the reconstruction of the College’s former gymnasium.

President Rich Wagner also delivered a few remarks, illustrating the many transformations Dunwoody has gone through in the past four years:

“Today’s significance is the completion of this project and the recognition of the transformation of our building. And it is symbolic of the ongoing transformation taking place at Dunwoody.

 This all started in 2014, when we celebrated Dunwoody’s Centennial.

Since then, under the leadership of Dunwoody’s Board of Trustees, we have been implementing an aggressive strategic plan.

 With your support, we started the Women in Technical Careers program…we expanded the Youth Career Awareness Program…and we strengthened support for veterans attending Dunwoody.

To attract more talent into our area, we expanded our recruiting reach to cover the entire state of Minnesota, Western Wisconsin, and we are now working our way to Chicago.

 This past spring, we graduated our first cohort of Bachelor of Architecture Students.

 And we weren’t done. We heard from our industry partners that there are not enough engineers…so we decided to launch a School of Engineering.

 This fall, through a partnership with the Stadium View apartment complex on the University of Minnesota campus, we started a residential life program.

 Last year, we placed 98 percent of our students in the field for which they were trained, with an average starting salary of over $45,000 per year.

 These initiatives have resulted in five years of enrollment growth, while most institutions of higher education in Minnesota have seen an enrollment decrease.”

President Rich Wagner recognizes alumni at the Community Open House.

Wagner credited much of the College’s success to the overwhelming support it has received over the last few years and announced the public launching of the Leading the Way Campaign.

“Because of the generous support of key community leaders, we have raised nearly $40 million towards our goal of $50 million – the largest campaign in Dunwoody history,” he said. “The success of this campaign to date speaks volumes about the support this community has for the mission of this institution. Thank you on behalf of all the lives you have changed. Thank you for the passion you share for Dunwoody, our students, our faculty, and our staff.”

The College hopes to move on to the next phase of the reconstruction soon. The expansion and renovation project have been funded entirely through donations.

Future projects include a new Student Center, more student support areas, additional classrooms and labs, additional space for the School of Engineering, and restoring the historic entrance to the main building.

Dunwoody helps high school students prep for MN FIRST Robotics Competitions

Free robotics seminars thrive for ninth year in a row

Sharing knowledge and best practices has always been a focal point for Dunwoody. But few departments do it quite like Robotics & Manufacturing.

For the ninth year in a row, Dunwoody’s Robotics & Manufacturing department will offer free seminars for high school students interested in joining and participating in MN FIRST Robotics.

Ties with MN FIRST Robotics strengthen

Currently offered by more than 200 Minnesota high schools, MN FIRST Robotics is a Varsity Letter sport open to all high school students as early as their freshman year. During the season, teams work together to design, build, and program complex robots. Those same robots later compete for points in both regional and state competitions. Teams and team members also compete for various awards recognizing qualities like entrepreneurship, creativity, and innovation.

Dunwoody presents a Unique Engineering & Design Award, which recognizes high school robotics teams that exhibit unique engineering design solutions, each year.

The free Dunwoody seminars were designed for teams looking to brush up on skills or help new team members get up to speed.

“Dunwoody has had a great relationship with MN FIRST Robotics,” Dean of Robotics & Manufacturing E.J. Daigle said. “We have had over 1,000 students attend these seminars since we started them in 2009. I see many of the students at the competitions, and several come back each year.”

Dean of Robotics & Manufacturing E.J. Daigle shows a student how to program a Dunwoody robot at a previous MN FIRST Robotics Competition.

During the seminars, participants receive hands-on training from Dunwoody faculty and students in areas like:

  • Basic electricity and electronics;
  • LabVIEW programming;
  • Shop skills and hand tools;
  • Solidworks Design; and
  • Industrial robotics.
From seminars to careers

Those who complete the training receive a certificate of completion and are eligible for a $2,000 scholarship if they choose to further their education at Dunwoody.

And many do.

“There are more than 50 students currently attending Dunwoody that are FIRST Robotics alumni,” Daigle said. “These seminars show students how a fun competition/high school sport can easily turn into an extremely high tech, rewarding career in automation and robotics.”

The FIRST Robotics season kicks off this January. Dunwoody will host a free seminar each month up until then.

Dates and times include:

  • Saturday, October 6, at 8 a.m.
  • Saturday, November 3, at 8 a.m.
  • Saturday, December 1, at 8 a.m.

All three sessions will be held at Dunwoody.

Students can register here or contact Daigle at for more information.

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

Dunwoody to host Community Open House/Ribbon Cutting of new space

Public welcome to tour Dunwoody’s 24,000 square foot renovation

Learning Commons and Welcome Center

The public is invited to tour Dunwoody’s 24,000 square foot renovation on Friday, September 28, from 10 a.m. to noon during a Community Open House.

A ribbon cutting and special program will take place at 10:30 a.m.

The renovation includes the transformation of an under-utilized gymnasium into a two-story space with a state-of-the-art Learning Commons and new Welcome Center. The new space also includes additional classrooms/study areas and an open area for community and student gatherings.

This is the first phase of an ambitious campus facilities plan. The renovation project was made possible by generous donors.

The need for the transformation of the College’s 100-year-old campus is due in part to the growing student population and the new School of Engineering.

Students using the new Learning Commons on the first day of classes for Fall semester 2018.

Dunwoody launched its School of Engineering in 2015, which now includes bachelor’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering, Software Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Industrial Engineering Technology.

The engineering programs join more than 40 other offerings, including 4-year degrees, 2-year degrees, and certificates.

For questions about the Community Open House, contact

Dunwoody rewards innovation at FIRST Robotics MN state championship

Three high school teams receive $500 and the Dunwoody Unique Engineering & Design Award for their FIRST Robotics competition design solutions

The Greenbush-Middle River, Eden Valley-Watkins, and Frazee-Vergas high school teams formed the winning alliance at this year’s Minnesota State High School League FIRST Robotics championship held May 19, at Mariucci Arena. But thanks to Dunwoody’s Unique Engineering & Design Award, teams that didn’t place still had a chance to win.

For the fourth consecutive year, Dunwoody presented a Unique Engineering & Design Award, which recognizes high school robotics teams that exhibit unique engineering design solutions.

Because each year’s FIRST Robotics competition provides several different challenges and multiple ways to score points, teams have to make tough decisions about how they design their robots. No matter whether those decisions lead to a first place win or not, they provide team members with an opportunity to experiment, problem-solve, and learn.

Winners use unique materials methods

The 2018 Unique Engineering & Design Award winners are:

  • Becker, Team 4607 (Becker, MN)
  • Henry Sibley, Team 3100 (Mendota Heights, MN)
  • Farmington, Team 2987 (Farmington, MN)

Dean of Robotics & Manufacturing E.J. Daigle was this year’s judge.

“The winning teams this year designed and built robots using an array of design and custom-manufacturing parts for their robots,” he said. “Machining, welding, 3D-printing, and hand-laid carbon fiber were all on display. By far my favorite was seeing a Banner photoelectric sensor and reflector applied to a robot wheel to be utilized as an encoder.”

Several Dunwoody Robotics & Manufacturing students also attended the event. They talked about their experiences at Dunwoody, made sure the Dunwoody keychain-dispensing FANUC robot—an event favorite—kept running properly, and showcased the College’s “Snow Devil” robotic snow plow by driving it around the concourse.

Scholarships and seminars for FIRST Robotics participants

Dunwoody hopes to give out the award again next year.

The College is offering $1,000 scholarships to FIRST Robotics grads who enroll at Dunwoody for the fall 2018 semester. For details, download the scholarship application or contact Dunwoody Admissions at or 612-381-3041.

The Robotics & Manufacturing department will hold Saturday seminars this fall to help teams prepare for the 2019 FIRST Robotics competition: “Destination: Deep Space.” Topics covered include, basic electricity, Solidworks design, shop skills, industrial robotics, and more.

For details, contact Dean Daigle at

Dunwoody to offer five summer camps in 2018

Searching for something to do this summer? Interested in exploring Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) careers and Dunwoody programs? Look no further.

Dunwoody is excited to offer five different summer camp opportunities in 2018:

Youth Career Awareness Program (YCAP) College Prep Summer Camp: June 11-July 21, 2018
For students completing their junior or senior year in Spring 2018.

YCAP Summer Camp is a six-week camp that helps prepare high school juniors and seniors for college.

Campers will:

  • Explore technical degrees and career opportunities at Dunwoody
  • Take college-readiness courses
  • Participate in field trips and visits to job sites

Those who are accepted into a Dunwoody program after the camp will be eligible to receive a scholarship of up to $10,000/year for two years.

Questions? Contact Peggy Quam, Assistant Director of Special Initiatives, at or 612.381.3067.

Register for YCAP College Prep Summer Camp.

Stem Camp: June 18-21, 2018
For students entering their sophomore, junior, or senior year of high school in Fall 2018. 

STEM Camp is a four-day camp that allows high schoolers to explore topics in STEM-related fields.

Campers will:

  • Design and build projects
  • Experience 3D printing, electronics, code writing, CAD modeling, and manufacturing
  • Take a tour of Boston Scientific

Questions? Contact Janet Nurnberg, Industrial Engineering Technology Program Manager, at or 612.381.3351.

Register for Stem Camp.

Power Girls: June 24-29, 2018
For girls entering grades 6-12 in Fall 2018.

Power Girls is a 6-day camp, hosted at Girl Scouts River Valleys’  Camp Lakamaga in partnership with Dunwoody women staff and faculty.

Campers will:

  • Create hands-on projects
  • Practice construction and welding
  • Build a Tiny House

Register for Power Girls.

 Discover Interior Design Camp: June 25-28, 2018
For students entering their sophomore, junior, or senior year of high school in Fall 2018.

Held in partnership with RSP Architects, Discover Interior Design is a four-day camp that introduces high schoolers to the world of interior design.

Campers will:

  • Study color, materials, architectural drawing, and digital media
  • Work with established, professional designers
  • Visit local design firms

Questions? Contact Nada Sarraf-Knowles, Interior Design Assistant Professor, at or 612.381.3352.

Register for Discover Interior Design Camp.

Arts-N-Crafts, Robots & Computing Camp: July 16-20, 2018
For students entering grades 6-8 in Fall 2018. 

Arts-N-Crafts, Robots & Computing Camp is a five-day camp that allows middle schoolers to explore the basics of computing through arts and crafts projects.

Campers will:

  • Build and program robots
  • Learn about Artbotics
  • Program with Scratch

Questions? Contact Rob Bentz, Dean of Computer Technology, at or 612.381.8117.

Register for Arts-N-Crafts, Robots & Computing Camp.

Learning about Leadership in Today’s Technology Fields

Mitch DeJong speaking at Dunwoody
March Leadership Lecture featured
Chief Technology Officer from Design Ready Controls

Multi-generational workforce development, embracing conflict and harnessing diverse perspectives to find creative solutions were just a few of the topics Mitch DeJong spoke about at Dunwoody’s March 1 C. Charles Jackson Leadership Lecture.

The Chief Technology Officer at Design Ready Controls, DeJong shared leadership lessons he’s learned from a career that has spanned the automotive, environmental and manufacturing sectors.

“Embracing passion equals embracing conflict,” DeJong said during his lecture, explaining that when you can embrace conflict between two diverse viewpoints, rather than trying to build a middle-ground consensus that doesn’t make either side happy, you can arrive at a better solution.

Mitch DeJong with Dunwoody President Rich Wagner and VP of Institutional Advancement Brian NelsonDeJong has a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in Natural Resources Science and Management and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from North Dakota State University.

His career and research have focused on multi-perspective design in a variety of fields, including: automotive design, expert systems software architecture, natural resources planning, and most recently, multi-generational workforce development.

Design Ready Controls is a growing manufacturing company headquartered out of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.


Robotics & Manufacturing students compete, help out teams at Autonomous Snowplow Competition

Dunwoody students receive sportsmanship award for fourth year in a row.

While most don’t necessarily relish the idea of snowstorms and clearing driveways…there are some folks who do. And you’ll likely find them at the annual Autonomous Snowplow Competition.

Dunwoody Robotics & Manufacturing students have competed in the Institute of Navigation (ION’s) Autonomous Snowplow Competition, since its inauguration in 2011. Held during the St. Paul Winter Carnival, the event serves as an opportunity for universities, colleges, and the general public to showcase hand-built machines that can independently clear piles of snow without any manual control.

It’s one of the Robotics & Manufacturing student’s favorite and most successful competitions, and the teams have the record to prove it.

Last year, Dunwoody placed 3rd and 5th in the competition.

And this year, Dunwoody earned its highest place to date when Team Wendigo brought home 2nd place and a $4,000 prize.

Dunwoody’s Snow Devils Team closely followed with 5th place and a $700 prize.

But for Dunwoody students, the annual event is about more than just winning. It’s also about sharing their love and knowledge of technology with the judges and spectators—and even the competition itself.

Snowplow Competition about more than just winning

“All that knowledge and experience doesn’t count for much if you don’t find ways to use it,” Automated Systems & Robotics student and Wendigo Team member Jeremy Berg said.

“This event isn’t just about who can take first place—it’s about seeing different ideas for autonomous thinking in action,” Berg added. “These people are our future coworkers and friends, and we want to be the go-to people to lend a hand or solve any issue.”

That mentality has contributed to the College earning the sportsmanship award in 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, and again this year, 2018.

Sportsmanship Award has meaningful history

Created by ION in 2012, the sportsmanship award honors the team that exhibited the best sportspersonship throughout the competition.

The award was renamed the Dr. Nattu Natarajan Golden Smile Award just a few years later after University of Michigan-Dearborn professor and competition leader Dr. Narasimhamurthi (Nattu) Natarajan, who passed away from a lung illness on the Saturday morning of the 2016 competition.

The award and its significance means a great deal to Dunwoody.

“I worked with Professor Natu at the competition those first few years,” Robotics & Manufacturing Dean E.J. Daigle said. “And he loved the Dunwoody students and teamwork.

“Many of these teams are traveling hundreds or even thousands of miles to compete. As a local team, it is easy for us to pack up extra tools and supplies to help teams make repairs to their vehicles.

“We have made it our mission each year to ensure that every team competes.”

And that’s exactly what they did.

The value of teamwork

Daigle shared that one of the reasons Dunwoody received the award this year is because his students were able to help out Case Western’s Sno-Joke robot, which had completely dead batteries on the last day of the competition.

With no safe or easy way to charge it at the event, the team thought they might be out of luck.

But by using personal jumper cables from Dunwoody students’ cars, “We were able to find a way to parallel their batteries with ours and maintain running the battery chargers at full capacity,” Daigle explained. “This allowed us to charge their machines and our machines at the same time.”

Thanks to the students’ quick thinking, the team, which had originally missed their scheduled run time, was able to compete at the end of the day Sunday—even beating out Dunwoody for fourth place.

The students helped another team in a similar scenario back in 2016.

Daigle recalls that at one point during that competition, a school announced they were going to quit due to technical difficulties when another team suggested they, “find Dunwoody–they can fix anything.”

“To me, that is far more valuable than whatever place you come in,” Daigle said. “I couldn’t be any prouder.”

Learn more about Dunwoody Robotics & Manufacturing.