First Dunwoody Architecture Class Prepares to Graduate

Six Dunwoody students to earn a Bachelor of Architecture degree May 17.

Six Dunwoody graduates will take a step closer to becoming architects as they walk across the stage May 17 at the College’s 2018 Commencement Ceremony. The students are the first to graduate from Dunwoody’s Bachelor of Architecture program.

The degree — which launched in fall of 2015 — is structured as a plus three stackable credential. Students enter the program with an Associate of Applied Science in Architectural Drafting & Design (or a related two-year architectural degree) and leave with a comprehensive, professional Bachelor of Architecture degree after the final three years.

Dunwoody is one of the only schools in the nation to use this structure.

Several Dunwoody Architecture graduates at a final project presentation in 2015.

Several Dunwoody Architecture graduates at a final project presentation in 2015.

“Graduating our first class is a significant milestone in the academic and professional communities throughout our region,” said Architecture Program Manager John Dwyer.

“This is the first new school of architecture in more than 100 years in Minnesota and the only Bachelor of Architecture in the state. The significance of this moment cannot be understated, particularly as our city continues to rapidly grow.”

A new approach to architecture education

 Since day one, Dunwoody’s Bachelor of Architecture has flipped the standard model of architectural education.

Instruction from actively practicing faculty; real, hands-on projects; and training on current design software and equipment gives Dunwoody Architecture students a more practical and focused education than traditional Architecture degrees — a selling point for many of the College’s students.

Tyler Bares mapping out plans for the IFP Minnesota project

Tyler Bares mapping out plans for the IFP Minnesota project

“I knew I wanted to be an architect,” soon-to-be Architecture graduate Tyler Bares said. “It was between a couple of schools and I ended up at a more traditional, 4-year college. And there, I was expecting to learn something that was not even mentioned. The first class was about the theory of design — it wasn’t what I was ready for. I hardly went to class, and I didn’t enjoy it. At the end of the year I was debating, ‘do I change schools?’ ‘Do I change majors?’ Because I just could not stand it. And that’s when I toured Dunwoody.”

The approach has also reassured students that what they are learning is valuable and relevant.

“Learning about the technical side of architecture — the software used and various building methods — before theory, makes students more employable early on,” Bares said. “I started my first job in the architecture field just after my first year.”

Ensuring students find jobs in their field during school — and immediately after — is another building block of Dunwoody Architecture. During the 2016-17 school year, each Architecture student received an average of 14.2 job inquiries.*

“Oftentimes employers prefer to hire Dunwoody students and alumni because they are confident they are going to be working with someone who has a solid technical education,” soon-to-be Architecture graduate Gianna Madison said. “The field of architecture cannot and should not be taught in a vacuum. The quality and richness of Dunwoody’s Architecture curriculum is invaluable.”

A look back

Over the last three years, Architecture students have worked on a number of real assignments with real clients, including:

Renderings from the Veterans’ Journey Home project

Renderings from the Veterans’ Journey Home project

Projects from these partnerships have ranged from developing construction documents for veterans’ housing, to building acoustic sound panels, to designing an eco-friendly kitchen and dining hall.

The students have also studied in culturally rich places like Cuba, Barcelona, Italy, New Orleans, Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco.

In 2017 and 2018, students and faculty contributed to hurricane relief in Puerto Rico.

It’s been quite the journey. And after five years, Commencement is finally in site for the Dunwoody Architecture graduates.

“I am elated to be graduating,” Madison said. “Graduation to me signifies that a huge milestone has been reached.”

And while a normal sleep schedule, time to travel, and no more homework are appealing to the grads, their biggest excitement is where their skills and talent will take them next.

 Ready for what’s next
Gianna Madison measuring space for the IFP project installation

Gianna Madison measuring space for the IFP project installation

“Currently, I am employed with RSP Architects, where I intend to continue to work full-time,” Madison said. “At some point in my career, I would like to open up my own firm that provides housing and related resources to low-income families.”

Bares will also begin working full time at his current employer, Alliiance, upon graduation. He hopes to use the knowledge and skills he’s learned to make a difference in the world — especially in places like Puerto Rico.

“After traveling to Puerto Rico last semester and working on a residential design project for a neighborhood—I’ve really grown to love the island,” Bares said. “The people there are so generous, grateful, and welcoming. In their current situation, they need help, and they want help. I really hope I can continue to travel there and help in whatever ways I can.”

This sense of global perspective and responsibility is just one of the many ways these students have made Dwyer proud.

“The graduates have a strong sense of the impact their work and decisions will have on a global community,” he said. “They are poised to apply this in the world as leaders in the profession. I know they will do very well.”

Dunwoody’s Commencement Ceremony will be held at the Minneapolis Convention Center Thursday, May 17, at 7 p.m.

Apply to Dunwoody Architecture.

*2016-17 Dunwoody Career Services Annual Report

Academic Excellence Award: Kyle Smeaton

Kyle Smeaton
Web Programming & Database Development ‘18
Edina, MN

Kyle SmeatonWeb Programming & Database Development isn’t just a career path for Kyle Smeaton – it’s his passion in life. That excitement and curiosity for his field of study is one of the many reasons why Smeaton was selected as one of two Computer Technology Academic Excellence Award recipients for the Class of 2018.

“I really like programming computers and making them do what I want them to do,” Smeaton said. “And I discovered I could make a living doing it.”

Smeaton attended the Fair School Downtown where he developed an interest in theatre tech. Wanting to give that a try, he attended a community college for one semester, taking classes in stage lighting and sound design.

He liked the field, but wanted to give his main interest a try — computer programming.

Having heard good things about Dunwoody, he decided to attend an open house and soon after made the decision to enroll.

“I liked the idea of a two-year college experience,” he said. “It gets you out in the field faster, and I enjoy the hands-on learning — it’s not just theory. If you really love doing something and you want to get out in the job field, [Dunwoody] is a good way to go.”

Already a hands-on learner, Smeaton had built his first computer back in high school. It was then that he fell in love with Linux, an open-source software operating system.

“My first time talking to Kyle was two months before his first day of school,” said Computer Networking Assistant Professor Curt Gabrielson. “He was so interested in Linux that he contacted me to find out more about the Open Source Club at Dunwoody. He has been involved with the Club since becoming a student and is now the club president. He has also become Vice President of Phi Theta Kappa.”

Smeaton has always liked understanding the science behind what makes things work. In high school, he decided to take apart a large lantern battery so he could turn it into a machine that split water into its component parts using an electric current.

“I get really excited about that kind of stuff,” Smeaton said.

That excitement is evident when Smeaton begins talking about his final project at Dunwoody, which involves another interest — mountain biking. He built a website database that catalogs mountain bikes to make it simple to search for exact specifications.

“I’m kind of loving everything I’m doing right now,” Smeaton said. “I feel like I’ve really grown here. Dunwoody has helped me find myself. It’s really a privilege to get to do something you love.”

Gabrielson said Smeaton is always willing to share his knowledge with others. “Kyle is a pleasure to have in the classroom. He is excelling academically as one of the top students of his cohort, with near perfect grades. He also has a near perfect attendance record and routinely sacrifices time to help other students.”

Looking to the future, Smeaton wants to find a system administration position or a position that includes database work. He also wants to contribute to the programming community and maybe even program a video game someday.

And as with everything he does, Smeaton will bring his self-motivation and his desire to keep improving and learning. “I want to be able to contribute and help other people,” he said.

Academic Excellence Award: Kyle Larkin

Kyle Larkin
Automotive Service Technology, ‘18
Cottage Grove, MN

Photo of Kyle LarkinJust because Kyle Larkin’s dad, Bob, teaches in the Automotive Department, doesn’t mean it was inevitable that Kyle was going to enroll at Dunwoody. But certainly, spending time in garages from a young age left an impression.

“Being in the garage as a little kid — I always wanted to be as good as my dad,” Larkin said. “I was always taking things apart and figuring out how they worked and how to put them back together.”

What he developed, though, wasn’t just a love for the hands-on aspects of working for cars. Larkin also saw how fixing things has a direct impact on people.

“I think choosing a technical career stems from a desire to help people,” Larkin said. “To take something that didn’t work well and make it work like it did before, or even better. It’s very rewarding. I think it’s an overlooked thing. People in a service industry — their job is to help people.”

That attitude did not go unnoticed by the Automotive faculty.

“Throughout his time here, he excelled at treating each experience as an opportunity to become better at what he does,” Dean of Automotive Steve Reinarts said.

During high school, Larkin participated in the Northeast Metro 916 High School Automotive Program. He also started working at White Bear Mitsubishi at the age of 16. He’s done well enough there to be promoted to Light Duty Technician at White Bear Subaru. And recently, his employer sent him to a week-long training at Subaru’s corporate training center.

“This particular training is designed for seasoned/skilled technicians who demonstrate the trait to become experts in the field,” Reinarts said.

Larkin believes his Dunwoody education and work experience has more than prepared him for what’s next. For now, he hopes to continue to take on more responsibilities at his current position. Eventually, he’d like to lead a service shop or even open up his own store — especially one that supplies after-market modifications, which is a passion he shares with other auto enthusiasts.

Academic Excellence Award: Indigo Isackson-Rod

Indigo Isackson-Rod
Radiologic Technology ‘18
Pine City, MN

Before enrolling in Dunwoody’s Radiologic Technology program, Indigo Isackson-Rod had never considered a career in healthcare. In fact, she had originally wanted to be a Spanish teacher.

But after earning her Associate’s Degree in Liberal Education with a Spanish Emphasis and volunteering as a Spanish teacher aid, Isackson-Rod realized teaching wasn’t her dream.

“I actually read about Radiologic Technology in a magazine at a coffee shop one day,” Isackson-Rod said. “And I just applied out of the blue. I thought I’d try it and if I didn’t like it, I had a back-up plan.”

Her decision to explore the field surprised even herself.

“When I was younger, any career that involved blood or needles would have been an absolute ‘no’,” Isackson-Rod shared. “I hate needles. I would have never seen myself going into this field.”

But, despite its uncertain outcome, her leap of faith paid off. Not only will Isackson-Rod graduate this year, but she is also the Academic Excellence Award recipient for the Radiologic Technology program.

“Indigo has been an excellent student,” Radiologic Technology Program Director David Blake said. “She is competent, efficient, and it all comes natural to her. Technologists treat her like a fellow technologist. I have even been asked if she can graduate early so she can work right now!”

Following graduation, Isackson-Rod hopes to continue her career as a Radiologic Technologist. A path she is certain she will enjoy, thanks to Dunwoody.

“I have loved Dunwoody’s program,” she said. “You’re learning hands-on, gaining experience, and making connections.”

This type of education is also a great way for someone to know right away if this is the job you want to do, she explained — an experience that might have sent her in a different direction earlier in her college career.

But no matter the path, Isackson-Rod is glad it took her here.

“I’m grateful and honored to receive the [Academic Excellence] award,” she said. “And I’m excited for what’s ahead.”

Employee Spotlight: Paul Strother, Architectural Drafting & Design Senior Instructor

Where did you grow up?

I was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Soon after, I moved to Montreal, Canada, and again to Geneva, Switzerland, where I started elementary school. I moved to the Twin Cities for middle school and have been here ever since!

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

I attended college at the University of Minnesota, School of Architecture. I have a Bachelor of Architecture.

How long have you been working at Dunwoody?

Nine years!

What do you enjoy most about Dunwoody Architecture?

I have terrific colleagues and students. Dunwoody gives them what they need to be successful, and I like being a part of that.

What does it mean to you knowing the first class of Architecture students is about to graduate?

It tells me that the graduates had faith in us. I’m honored by that.

What are a few of your hobbies?

I love old cars. I have a ‘50 Chev, a ‘75 Citroen 2CV Camionette (the kind that looks like it was made in a shop class), a decaying ‘62 Fiat, and a ‘58 Isetta (one door in the front) in pieces in my family room.

What is your favorite Twin Cities restaurant or coffee shop?

Midori’s Floating World—I love Japanese food. For 20 years before that though, it was Mr. Q’s in Eden Prairie. Before the owner, Quyet, moved to Florida, he introduced me to Vietnamese food—another one of my favorite cuisines.

Where is the best place you have ever traveled to? Why?

Living in Geneva in the ’50s was a wonderful experience. It was so different than the U.S. or Canada. It broadened my thinking.

What are you most proud of?

My wife and I have three children, who are truly fine people and walk the talk of caring for others. They make terrific parents to my three grandchildren.

Please provide some fun facts about yourself.

I married an interesting woman, my wife Mary. Through her interest we have a photo darkroom, an art studio, 100+ geraniums, three dogs, a cat, 16 chickens, a blind rooster, a duck that wears a diaper around the house, and a maple syrup boiler in the front yard. Also at last count, something like 15 boats (she fixes old boats). Most are at our lake place in Northern Minnesota. In the summer, I office out of a 1966 Airstream we keep up there. Our main house is in Dahlgren Township west of Carver on 14 acres. I designed the house in 1981 before I had any idea what I was doing.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I’m happy to be here.

Dunwoody College Commencement Ceremony May 17

Your guide to Dunwoody’s Spring 2018 Graduation Ceremony

Dunwoody College of Technology’s Spring 2018 Commencement is just around the corner!

Whether you’re a graduate or an attendee, here’s what to expect:

Graduate Reception

Date: Wednesday, May 16
Time: 5-7:30 p.m.
Location: Dunwoody College of Technology

Dunwoody’s Graduate Reception is a free and casual event for students and their families and friends. During the reception, graduates are encouraged to show their friends and family their work, tour the campus, and introduce them to their instructors and classmates. Hors d’oeuvres will be served.

Commencement Ceremony

Date: Thursday, May 17
Time: 7-9 p.m.
Location: Minneapolis Convention Center, 1301 Second Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55403

Dunwoody’s Commencement Ceremony is a free and dressy event for students and their families and friends. During Commencement, graduates will be recognized by their degree earned, program in which they graduated from, expected honors (if any) and awards (if any).

Graduates will individually walk across the stage and receive a diploma cover. Official diplomas will be sent via first-class mail to the address graduates have on file.

Schedule of Events:

6 p.m. | Graduates must check-in on the ground level in M100. Doors to the Auditorium will open for guests.

6:40 p.m. | Graduates will begin lining up for the processional.

7 p.m. | Graduation processional begins.

About 8:30/9 p.m. | Commencement Ceremony will come to a close.

Parking and Driving Directions

The preferred parking ramp is the 3rd Avenue Convention Center (600) ramp. For more information on parking and driving directions, visit

Ticket Information

Tickets are not required for the event, and there is no limit to the number of guests you may bring. Large groups of guests wishing to sit together are encouraged to arrive early.

Graduates will have reserved seating. Family and friends will not be permitted in the graduate area.

Academic Attire

Every graduate must wear a cap and gown to participate in Commencement. The tassel should hang on the right side of your cap. Staff will be available to assist you in getting into your gown, cap, and hood. 

Special Accommodations

Dunwoody strives to accommodate participants or guests with special needs. Please note that wheelchair accessible seats are on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Wheelchairs and scooters may be rented for Commencement from The Mobility Shop. The Mobility Shop recommends reserving your equipment online at in advance to ensure its availability.

All equipment is picked up and returned on-site at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Cameras and Video

Guests are welcome to bring cameras to Commencement. However, guests may only take pictures from their seats and should not disturb those around them. Only official photographers will be permitted in the graduates’ area and in the area around the stage.

Professional photos will be taken during the ceremony. Proofs can be viewed and photos ordered at or 1.800.424.3686. GradImages will send proofs to the graduates’ personal email.

Guests are welcome and encouraged to take photos following the ceremony. A Dunwoody backdrop will be available.

Additionally, be on the lookout for the full video of Commencement, which will be posted to

Friendly Reminders

A friendly reminder to turn off your cell phone ringer during the ceremony. Please also refrain from bringing balloons, banners, signs, noisemakers, or any other items that block the view of guests.

For more information on Commencement, visit If you have any further questions, email the Registrar’s Office at

Mortenson Senior VP/Dunwoody alum will give keynote address at Commencement

Dunwoody College of Technology is proud to announce that Mark Sherry will be this year’s keynote speaker during Commencement.

Sherry is a 1987 graduate of the Architectural Drafting & Estimating Technology program.

About Mark Sherry

President, Mortenson Development Inc.
Senior Vice President, Mortenson Construction

Mark Sherry is the President of Mortenson Development Inc. and Senior Vice President of Mortenson Construction Company. In these roles, Sherry oversees the Development Group and coordinates the construction company operating groups – the Milwaukee Office and Wind Operating Group – as well as select business service groups.

During his 30 years with Mortenson, Sherry has been instrumental in the growth of the company. Starting as an estimator in 1987, Sherry become a Vice President in 2001. He was promoted to Senior Vice President in 2015. A seasoned leader, Sherry is an expert at nearly every facet of the Mortenson Construction business and is widely regarded for his skills in relationship-building, business development, design-phase management, estimating, and contract negotiation.

Sherry has been active in many organizations throughout his career. He is Past President and Board Member of the Associated General Contractors of Greater Milwaukee and served on the Board of the Wisconsin Technology Council – the independent, non-partisan science and technology adviser to Wisconsin’s governor and the Legislature. He was an active member of the AGC of Greater Milwaukee’s Mentor Protégé Program and was recognized with the AGC’s Skill, Integrity, Responsibility (SIR) Award in 2013.

Sherry earned his degree at Dunwoody College of Technology in his hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he currently lives today. He is married with three children and enjoys spending time with his family, golfing, snow skiing, and fishing.

Dunwoody students compete, place in 2018 Construct*ium Pentathlon event

Dunwoody Construction Management, Construction Project Management students bring home eight awards from annual competition.

Congratulations to all of the Dunwoody students who participated in the 2018 Construct*ium Pentathlon event! Sponsored by Wells Concrete, the annual competition—which just celebrated its third year—brings together Construction Management students from 10 local schools.

At the event, students refine and showcase the communication, leadership, and management skills needed to succeed in today’s built environment.
This year’s competitions included:
  1. Negotiations;
  2. Pecha Kucha (timed, fast-paced presentations);
  3. Toastmaster table topics (public speaking);
  4. Job interviewing; and
  5. The Pursuit (students create and present a complete proposal to win the contract for a real project).
The award standings are:

Negotiations: Tyler Fish, 3rd Place
Pecha Kucha: Dana Maier, 1st Place
Toastmaster Table Topics: Tyler Fish, 1st Place; Nathan
Swanson, 2nd Place; Dana Maier, 3rd Place
Job Interview: Melysia Cha, 1st Place
Pursuit: Matt Hackman, 5th Place
(Additional Dunwoody competitors: Matt Dahlseng, Nathan Schmidt, Dan Stenzel, Nathan Swanson, and Shantel Volker)
Overall Pentathlon Winners: Dana Maier, 3rd Place; Tyler Fish, 4th Place

Construction Project Management senior instructors Matt Durand and Karie Johnson—who helped the students prepare for the competition—said they hope to make this competition an annual Dunwoody tradition.