Dunwoody to design large-scale display for Minnesota State Fair

Interior Design, Graphic Design, and Engineering Drafting & Design students collaborate on new College initiative.

A group of Dunwoody Interior Design, Graphic Design, and Engineering Drafting & Design students are working together this summer to create a large-scale display for the Minnesota Department of Health.

Conceptualized and executed by Dunwoody students and department faculty, the graphic-covered wooden-panel was designed to answer questions regarding the health and safety of the State’s drinking water as well as its origin.

The piece will be displayed at the Minnesota State Fair in Falcon Heights later this month. It is the first of a five-year contract with the State of Minnesota.

Project provides benefits to students, College

Interior Design Senior Instructor Korrin Howard shared that the reason this project has been so successful is because of Dunwoody’s long legacy of students who learn by doing.

“It’s really important to have that hands-on ability when you are designing,” Howard said.

Graphic Design student JD Loyle said he jumped at the opportunity to work on the project – something he has done often at Dunwoody to gain real-world experience.

Loyle shared that this particular collaboration has even allowed him to pick up skills outside of his program.

Normally immersed in the world of graphic design, he along with a couple of other students fabricated an interactive piece using magnets and ball-bearings “to demonstrate the flow of water through the sediment of earth.”

Graphic Design student Emily Hanson has also found the opportunity beneficial, saying it has been a good one to hone skills.

“It’s been a great chance to be able to make connections…cross-departmentally, within your department, and working with a big entity like the State,” she said.

She looks forward to seeing their work on display at the Fair while walking around enjoying a Pronto Pup.

“I’ll be excited to see all of it come together,” Hanson said.

#DunwoodyDetermined: A joint project in the high-tech world of medical manufacturing

It was just another day at Dunwoody, when Ken Weis, a ‘15 Tool Technology and ’17 Engineering Drafting & Design alum, was approached with the project of a lifetime: to build parts for a prosthetic foot that would allow athletes to participate in high-impact sports.

The project would be in partnership with Minnesota native Mike Schultz, a professional snowmobile racer who lost his leg above the knee in a 2008 race injury.

Determined to race again, Schultz had created a prosthetic knee unit that allowed him to competitively ride. Known as the Moto Knee, the device earned him a motocross adaptive silver medal at the 2009 X Game.

Recognizing the need for — and the success of — his prosthetic knee, Schultz launched his own company, BioDapt, in 2010 with a mission to design, manufacture, and distribute lower limb prosthetic components for action sports.

Robotics & Manufacturing Dean E.J. Daigle and Mike Schultz

Five years later, he was on his next mission: to create a prosthetic device that would allow any amputee to downhill ski.

“All you need is the motivation to come up with something and then find and use the tools to create it,” Schultz said. “I felt that working with students to help out with this prototype project would be a perfect fit. I knew it would be a fun and very challenging project for them and could really help us bring our equipment to the next stage of development.”

Dunwoody partners with professional athlete Mike Schultz

So, Schultz passed along his project proposal to Luke Becker, his brother-in-law, local educator, and Dunwoody supporter, who brought it to Dunwoody’s Robotics & Manufacturing department.

Robotics & Manufacturing Dean E.J. Daigle then brought the project to Machine Tool Technology Instructor Brian Nelsen.

“E.J. sent Brian the prints, asking him if this was something we could do,” Weis, who was Nelsen’s student worker at the time, explained.

“Brian then handed them to me and asked me what I thought and what my concerns were—he was testing me, I think. We spent a few days discussing how we would produce the parts given our capabilities. We ultimately decided that creating the parts would be a huge challenge…so naturally we said ‘yes’,” Weis said.

“One of the amazing things about working with Brian is that, even though you are his student worker, he is open-minded to your ideas. He made me feel part of the process and gave me a feeling of responsibility for the project.”

So, at the start of the spring 2015 semester, Nelsen and Weis got to work.

Over the next year, the Dunwoody team designed and manufactured four parts to the final unit, including a foot base, shock mount, shock pivot, and shock rod, which would connect to Schultz’s original Moto Knee.

The project was immensely gratifying.

“It was an honor to work on a project that would help people who would not normally be able to do things due to an amputation,” Nelsen said.

Special project inspires Weis to continue his education

The undertaking, however, wasn’t easy. Since it was a completely extra-curricular project, Nelsen and Weis spent hours before and after class talking plans, creating parts, and running programs.

“Finding time for a project like this was a struggle, but nothing good is easy,” Nelsen reflected.

In the midst of the project, Weis graduated from the Machine Tool Technology program and began working second shift at Multisource in Burnsville. But leaving the project behind wasn’t an option.

“I would come in on Friday mornings, after a nap, and work on the parts. I was invested in the project and wanted to see it to its conclusion,” Weis said.

And it wasn’t long before Weis found further inspiration in the project: a new career path.

“Working production on this project after graduation opened my eyes to a previously dismissed career path,” Weis said. “I started talking to E.J. about possibly coming back to school. The following fall, I enrolled in the Engineering Drafting & Design program.”

Dunwoody team, project reaches major milestones

A prototype of the Versa Foot

In early 2016, the project was finally complete, and six full units were created and distributed. One of those units went on for testing in future winter and summer sports, one unit was given to Dunwoody, and the final four units were given to Schultz and the USA Paralympic downhill ski team.

In May of 2017, another milestone was reached: Weis earned his second Dunwoody degree in Engineering Drafting & Design. Shortly after, he began to work in the Engineering department at Engel Diversified Industries, Inc., where he still works today.

And in March 2018, Schultz and the USA Downhill Ski team competed in the PyeongChang Paralympics, using an evolution of the foot prototype Dunwoody helped create.

It was also there that Schultz won his first Paralympic gold medal in Snowboard-Cross.

The final design and unit created by Schultz was later named the Versa Foot and joined his product line alongside the Moto Knee.

“This year was definitely a highlight for my company and I, with all the success we had during the Paralympic Games in South Korea,” Schultz said. “Fifteen athletes from around the world competed at the games using our Moto Knee and/or Versa Foot, and between all of us we brought home 11 medals!

“I can’t thank Ken and the crew at Dunwoody enough for the outstanding work done.  I was extremely happy with how everything turned out and the components are still being used by me and a couple others,”

The experience has also left a lasting impression on Weis.

“I first came to Dunwoody at the age of 39,” Weis shared. “It had been 21 years since I had been in school. I was given the opportunity to be the student worker at the end of my first semester, which turned out to be one of the best experiences in my life. Dunwoody has left a lasting impression on my life that will never fade.”

Dunwoody graduates continue to be in high demand

Finding a job after graduation is not a problem for Dunwoody College of Technology graduates. Deciding between multiple offers and options tends to be the norm – not the exception.

According to the recently released 2017-2018 job inquiry report, the career outlook for Dunwoody graduates continues to be impressive. In fact, for the 2018 academic year, the overall job inquiry per Dunwoody graduate was 11.1.

The full career services report, including placement rates and average salaries, won’t be available for release until after the first of the year. But this early indication of continued high-demand demonstrates the value of a Dunwoody degree.

“My phone rings off the hook from employers seeking Dunwoody grads,” said Associate Director of Career Services Rob Borchardt. “There is far more demand compared to the number of students.”

Borchardt said he tracked more than 4,900 job leads for this year’s graduating class of 440 students.

And that only includes job leads for paid positions directly related to a Dunwoody major.

“If it isn’t a job that would require someone to hold one of our high-skill, technical degrees, then I don’t count it as a lead,” Borchardt said. “We track job inquires that way to ensure that when a student enrolls in a Dunwoody program, they can be confident that there is high-demand in industry for the skills they are acquiring.”

Borchardt leads the College’s Anthony L. Ferrara Career Services Center on campus. The Center provides free lifelong employment assistance to all students and alumni. This starts with helping students find paid internships and part-time work while they are still in school, and culminates with helping them through the job search process upon graduation (and beyond).

Besides maintaining an online job-board and database, Borchardt is also available to help students develop their resumes and cover letters, create professional online profiles, practice for job interviews, and prepare for the College’s twice-yearly career fairs and networking events.

Find more information about the Career Services Center and the services it offers. You can also contact Borchardt directly at rborchardt@dunwoody.edu.

Dunwoody provides life-changing experience for 2018 graduate

Dunwoody Electrical Construction Design & Management alum Jessica Hart would not describe her path to Dunwoody as easy. But she would describe it as worthwhile.

Having previously attended a local community college and experienced difficulties in finding a job that fit her degree, Hart was hesitant to go back to school. But the desire for a successful career pushed her to research Dunwoody.

Deciding Dunwoody

“I looked into Dunwoody because I had heard it has a reputation for turning out the best graduates among all the technical schools in the State,” Hart said. “Its focus on employable skills and connections to industry as well as its location right off downtown Minneapolis sweetened the deal.”

Dunwoody also had the program Hart wanted.

“I’ve always had a fascination with infrastructure — whether it’s the flow of traffic according to signals or what’s actually happening when you plug a lamp into the wall,” Hart said. “My mom tells the story of how the lights once flickered on and off during a church service because four-year-old me was in the hallway thinking ‘what does THIS one do!?’

“Getting to be a part of the magic of electricity is super fulfilling for me.”

So Hart made the difficult decision to give college a second try. And in the spirit of change, decided to take another leap of faith — and enroll under a name and the pronouns she had always preferred.

“The fact that Dunwoody was completely accommodating to me, before I’d even taken steps to legally correct my identity, was absolutely instrumental in keeping me alive and determined to complete my degree,” Hart shared.

Having immediately connected with her program and teachers, Hart felt like she was finally on the right path. But just a few weeks into the program, she found herself face to face with another challenge.

“Not two months into Dunwoody, I lost my home,” Hart said. “I spent weeks living at the homeless shelter just off Hennepin, changing clothes every day in a tiny storage unit across from Target Field. I definitely wouldn’t have made it if not for my amazing instructors and newfound friends.”

The Dunwoody family

Hart presents to industry representatives on her semester project in February of 2018

Perhaps the most influential of those instructors were Electrical Construction & Maintenance Assistant Professors Polly Friendshuh and Jeff Chase, and Electrical Construction Design & Management Senior Instructor Nick Bohl.

“Polly’s care and understanding gave me the courage to persevere — to become a master of the bus network to get myself around town, to never once miss class or be late, and to navigate the legal system to set my real identity in stone,” she shared. “Jeff encouraged me to open up more and try new things. And Nick’s connections in the industry landed me my current job at exactly the moment I needed it.”

Two years later, life for Hart looks much different. Serving as the Electrical Database Specialist for Egan Company, Hart is now responsible for maintaining the database behind Accubid Enterprise estimating software.

“Dunwoody was the single most transformative experience of my life,” Hart said. “I started out with no home, friends, or future, and now I have a career, an apartment, and a degree! The connections I made at Dunwoody are the most fruitful I’ve ever had.

“Polly once told me that you aren’t just getting a degree when you come to Dunwoody, you’re getting a second family—and that is so true. We take care of each other.

“I couldn’t be prouder to be a Dunwoody alum.”

Q&A with a Dunwoody Automotive Service Technology Alum

Dunwoody alumni are innovators, entrepreneurs, top technicians, and skilled workers.  Here is a quick Q&A with just one!

Austin Lutz, ’02 Automotive Service Technology
Owner of BAM Automotive

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

A. At a concert in First Avenue’s Mainroom.

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

A. Every day at my shop is a moment that reminds me how awesome my job is. During the summer months we grill out most days, and I love all my coworkers. I’m a lucky guy.

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

A. That I worked as an instructor at Dunwoody for 10 years.

Q. What is your favorite memory of Dunwoody?

A. All of the picnics with fellow students and staff.

Employee Spotlight: John Richardson, Associate Dean of Students

Where did you grow up? 

I grew up in southern Florida and the northwest suburbs of Chicago.

Where did you attend college? What is your degree in?

I started my college career at Savannah College of Art and Design, majoring in 3D animation. I changed majors to psychology and attended Harper Community College in Illinois. Then I attended the University of Montana where I majored in fly fishing and snowboarding. I finally got serious and graduated with a BA in Psychology from Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington.

I have my masters of arts in Counseling Psychology from the University of Denver in Colorado, and I am currently completing my MBA at Argosy University.

How long have you been working at Dunwoody? 

I have been at Dunwoody for one year and four months.

What is your favorite part about working at Dunwoody? 

There are three things that are my “favorite” about working here: the students, staff, and labs.

It is rewarding to work with the creative, hardworking, and committed Dunwoody students as they progress in their academic careers toward graduation. I work with smart, engaging, and committed staff and faculty, which makes it fun to come to work. Finally, it’s cool to see the technology (“toys”) in our labs and what our students make with that technology.

What are a few of your hobbies?

When not on campus, my wife and I are introducing our kids to fishing, cycling, and snowboarding/skiing. We moved here from Denver a little over a year ago, so we are still discovering the city and all the great outdoor activities in Minnesota.

Do you have any pets? 

We have a 13-year-old cat, Bailey. Bailey is the boss of Hoss. Hoss is our 6-month-old rescue dog.

What are three of your favorite cuisines? 

Thai, Mexican, and Japanese.

What’s your favorite movie genre? Any all-time favorite movies? 

This is a hard question. If I had to pick one genre, then I would pick science fiction. I recently saw “Get Out.” It was a great movie that worked on so many levels.

What sports teams do you root for? 

I follow professional cycling, so I don’t necessarily root for one team. However, Team EF Education First – Drapac Cannondale has a diverse roster of riders this year with some strong Americans.

I also follow the Chicago Cubs.

Please provide 2-3 (or more!) fun facts about yourself.
  1. So far, I have run three marathons and one 31-mile “ultra” trail marathon.
  2. My friend and I once completed a two-week, off-road motorcycle camping trip from Colorado to the Oregon coast and back.
Any advice for incoming Dunwoody students? 

You are now at one of the premier technical colleges in the country. It is going to be hard. Expect to be challenged. When — not if — you hit a roadblock, come see one of us in Student Affairs, reach out to your faculty, or find your academic dean. We are all here for you.

Keeping pace: Advancements in automotive technology

“All of the technology involved with self-driving vehicles – we are teaching that now.” –Stephan Reinarts, Dean of Automotive


From self-driving vehicles to alternative fuels, the automotive field has experienced a flood of technological advancements during the past few years. And those very advancements are being integrated in the Dunwoody classroom at the same time they are debuting on the showroom floor.

Automotive: not the “dirty” job it used to be

Anyone who has gotten behind the wheel of a new vehicle can attest to the impressive array of high-tech features and new technologies. For many of us, driving our cars is more like operating a computer – only in reality it’s more like operating 40 computers all at once.

Stephan Reinarts, Dean of Automotive Programs at Dunwoody College of Technology, leads the team of instructors in charge of ensuring that today’s automotive students have the skills and knowledge needed to be successful in today’s high-tech automotive world.

“The most important tool our students use each day, isn’t a wrench – it’s a computer,” Reinarts said, stressing that today’s automotive service field is not the “dirty” job it used to be.

Today’s students aren’t just changing oil and replacing timing belts. They are dealing with lane departure sensors, obstacle detection devices, and infotainment and navigation systems. They are preparing for autonomous vehicles and working with alternative fuels, such as compressed natural gas. And all of this technology needs to work together in a complex, integrated network housed in each individual automobile.

“All of the technology involved with self-driving vehicles – we are teaching that now,” Reinarts said. “And that new technology is subject to failure. So today’s technicians need to navigate complex software and technologies to diagnose, repair and maintain those systems.”

Manufacturer relationships play vital role at Dunwoody

Keeping pace with all of these new advancements wouldn’t be possible without the strong manufacturer relationships Dunwoody has built and maintained for more than a century. In fact, in addition to Dunwoody Automotive’s flagship program, Automotive Service Technology, Dunwoody offers automotive service training for five different manufacturers: Audi, Honda/Acura, Mopar (Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, FIAT, Jeep, Ram), Subaru and Toyota/Lexus.

These relationships mean that Dunwoody students receive training on — and have access to — new features and vehicles as soon as they become available on the market.

It also means that Dunwoody’s curriculum is being continuously updated to keep pace with industry change.

In addition to the automotive service technology side, Dunwoody’s collision program is another area of rapid change and new developments. In fact, Dunwoody’s waterborne paint booth – which is more cost-effective and environmentally friendly – is a new feature in its state-of-the-industry shop.

Technology advancements show no sign of slowing down

Reinarts said that one of the biggest advancements affecting the automotive service field right now is the increasing ability technicians have to “communicate” with vehicles. Technicians now have the ability to communicate remotely with vehicles using wireless technologies.

“Our students can now receive information and analyze vehicles via their phones and tablets,” he said.

This will enable tomorrow’s technicians to diagnose – and in some cases perform repairs to a vehicle – without the customer being inconvenienced by bringing their vehicle into a repair facility.

But even though the technology might change, the students best suited to a career in automotive service are still persistent, curious, creative problem-solvers. They are the students who not only need to discover why something isn’t working – they want to make it work better than it ever did before.

Dunwoody students give back to Harriet Tubman Center

NECA, WITC students partner with Graybar Electric Supply and Valspar.

Twenty volunteers spent last Sunday afternoon painting playroom walls at Harriet Tubman Center East in Maplewood as part of a community service project.

Electrical student Cody Malinak, left, and Hannah McCormack, right, who will start classes at Dunwoody in the fall studying robotics.

Current students from the College’s National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) Chapter and the Women In Technical Careers (WITC) scholarship program participated. They were joined by partners from Graybar Electric Supply and used paint donated by Valspar.

The Tubman Center is Minnesota’s largest service provider to victims of domestic violence.

Toyota’s Technician Training & Education Network student Kristina Ellis said she learned about the volunteer opportunity through WITC and was eager to give back. She credits WITC as the reason she is able to attend college and pursue the dream of owning her own shop one day.

Dunwoody Automotive student Kristina Ellis

“Anything to be able to give back a little bit to show my appreciation for the scholarship that I received, because it’s the only reason I’m actually able to go to school,” Ellis said.

NECA students have a history with the Center. This past winter, they performed an energy audit of the space as part of the Chapter’s Green Energy Challenge.