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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 committed to transforming lives

“I always thought that I had that creative mindset, but I was never able to bring it to reality,” Mechanical Engineering Student Tommy Dao said. “Before Dunwoody, I never touched a mill or a lathe. And so for me to grab raw material and make it into something that has value, it was very rewarding.”

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.”

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.”

Changing Lives Through Scholarships: Danny Treat

Scholarship Spotlight
Danny Treat, Engineering Drafting & Design
Expected Graduation: May 2017
Owen Family Fund for Prosperity Scholarship

Danny Treat has always had a lot of interests in life. But Dunwoody College of Technology has given him the focus and drive he needed to steer those interests onto a promising career path.

Growing up in San Diego, Treat struggled with traditional high school, but found success at a charter school that emphasized real work experience.

With interests that spanned a wide spectrum of fields, Treat explored multiple options at a community college before admitting he just wasn’t ready for more school.

Treat was interested in several service-learning programs available through non-profit organizations. He eventually settled on a three-month commitment with Catholic Charities, helping rebuild homes in New Orleans. He continued that work with AmeriCorps, eventually serving as one of the project managers and volunteer coordinators.

A hands-on learner, Treat enjoyed the carpentry and construction aspects of the job, but he also liked the idea of helping design a project. With those interests in mind, Treat enrolled at the University of New Orleans in the naval architecture and marine engineering program.

But the four-year, traditional college model wasn’t a good fit. “There was no ‘hands-on’ learning,” Treat said, adding that it wasn’t until the final year of the program that you got to do the “fun stuff.”

By this time, Treat had met his now fiancée who was from the Twin Cities and wanted to move back to start her teaching career.

The couple moved to Minneapolis and Treat found work installing closets, and looked into joining the electrical union. It was his fiancée’s mother, who happens to be a career counselor, who first suggested Dunwoody as an option.

So Treat attended an open house and checked out a number of programs before hearing about the Engineering Drafting & Design program.

“When I saw the 3D printers and heard about the program I knew that was it,” Treat said.

It was decision he never regretted. “I felt more at home here than I did at either the community college or the four-year university,” Treat said. “I connected more.”

Treat was impressed with all of the hands-on work, and with a 3.96 GPA, he has excelled in all of his coursework. Treat is also one of the 2016-17 Owen Scholarship recipients.

“I haven’t had a day when I haven’t wanted to come to school,” Treat said.

He already has an internship with Proto Labs, an on-demand manufacturer of custom prototypes using CNC machining, injection molding and 3D printing.

After graduating, Treat wants to find a career that allows him to utilize all of the skills he’s learned – from design to build. “I want to design the stuff and then help make it,” Treat said.

If you’d like to help someone like Danny with a scholarship gift, donate online at or contact Mary Meador at 612-381-3048 or