Real Magazine - Summer/Fall 2014 Dakota County Technical College - Real Magazine Tue, 14 Oct 2014 22:16:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Do You Robot? Wed, 04 Jun 2014 20:46:09 +0000 Continue reading ]]> DCTC Hosts Robotics Teams to Advance CAD Experience

It is a sport. Not of running, jumping, or throwing, but of the mind. FIRST Robotics Competition, or FRC, means For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. It is a sport that encompasses sound engineering principles, strategic problem solving, and team-building skills. And it is rapidly growing: in 2006 there were only two teams. By 2014, that grew to 207 teams. FIRST is designed to help high-school-aged young people discover how interesting and rewarding the lives of engineers and scientists can be.

Why is FIRST unique?

It is a sport where participants can learn from the pros.

PrintDesigning and building a robot is a fascinating real-world professional experience.

Competing brings participants as much excitement and adrenaline rush as conventional varsity tournaments.

The game rules are a surprise every year.

FIRST consists of short games that are played by robots. The robots are designed and built in six weeks from a common set of parts by a team of students and a handful of engineers that are mentors. They design, then program and remotely control the robots in several rounds of competition.

During the summer of 2013, the Eagan High School FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Team, Team 2220 – Blue Twilight, was at Dakota County Technical College to do a robotics demo for DCTC’s Teens eXperiencing Technology (TXT) event. The team’s faculty advisor, Jim Lynch, was impressed by DCTC’s computer lab capacity and began planning an event for Computer Aided Design (CAD) training with Creo by PTC. Creo is specialized 3D design software that has been revolutionizing the way engineers and designers develop products.

creo_main_banner“The large training session hosted at DCTC and taught by PTC CAD experts helped us train a much larger group of students. It then led to greater buy-in and support for using CAD modeling in our design process,” said Lynch.

Students involved in the training at DCTC compete in two different levels of the FIRST Robotics program. Middle school and early high school students make up the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Teams. They design and build smaller robots using a platform from Legos called Tetrix, which looks much like old building sets.

The other level of robotics is the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) for grades 9-12. Students at this level are challenged to design and build robots starting with totes of motors, sensors and other parts, but no framework. Each team only has 6 weeks to design and build a competition-ready robot.

Lynch hopes to hold CAD training at DCTC every year. “We trained over 70 young people that day. The facilities at DCTC were perfect to provide this large scale training.”

Nathan Chapdelaine, senior student on Team 2220, explained how incorporating CAD into the design phase helped them see how their robot would look before spending considerable time and money to construct it. “It helped us work out the design flaws early in the process before building,” Chapdelaine said. This past season during week four out of the six week build process, they discovered there was no space for the battery. “Although the situation was not ideal, we were able to catch this issue before the robot was constructed, thanks to our CAD model,” he explained. “After a bit of modification to the model, we fixed it and began machining.” Without CAD, that critical problem would not have been discovered until the final week, causing the team to do some major rebuilding late in the season.

“We have only scratched the surface of what CAD can do,” said Chapdelaine.

Another important benefit of the CAD training at DCTC was that the team developed an engineering mindset. “As FIRST Robotics Competition was created to teach engineering to high school students, this benefit has been crucial,” said Chapdelaine. “Using PTC’s Creo software has given all of us, freshman through seniors, an invaluable insight into what we can do. Our build season reflected it.”

“The change in our team throughout the year has been astonishing,” said Lynch. “Our students have learned to engineer a robot instead of just throwing together parts and seeing if it works.”

The season may be over for FIRST Robotics Team 2220 from Eagan High School, but the benefits are long lasting.

Chapdelaine said, “Although I will be in college this fall, I hope that the team can continue this training at DCTC so that our surrounding teams can have all the benefits of CAD that we experienced this season while furthering our own teams’ knowledge and experience.”


FIRST was founded in 1989 to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. Based in Manchester, NH, the 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit public charity designs accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills

“To transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders.”

Dean Kamen, FIRST Founder

Photo on top: Model of Team 2220′s Robot for the 2014 season, courtesy of Nathan Chapdelaine

For more information about Continuing Education and Customized Training at Dakota County Technical College, contact:
  • Larry Lewis
    Manufacturing & Technology Coordinator
For more information about Eagan High School FRC, contact:
  • James Lynch
    Faculty Advisor
    Eagan High School Robotics Team
    2220 – Blue Twilight
]]> 0
Perennial Collaboration for Learning, Economic Development and Prosperity Tue, 20 May 2014 16:14:44 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Business Management Instructor Harold Torrence building long-term relationship with LEDC

Harold Torrence, Ed.D, a business management and multicultural supervision instructor at Dakota County Technical College, is advancing a long-range, civic-outreach strategy that focuses on small business development in the Latino community. Harold began articulating his strategy some years ago when he met Ramón León, founding executive director of the Latino Economic Development Center, and Mario Hernández, LEDC vice president and COO.

Harold is currently working with the LEDC on a project that helps the center achieve its mission to transform the Latino community through economic development. Harold’s goal is to expand collaborations between DCTC and organizations like LEDC to create more opportunities to deliver advanced business training to small business owners and entrepreneurs in diverse communities.

“Collaborations between colleges and communities need to be ongoing and long-term,” said Harold, whose volunteer work includes teaching LEDC staffers how to better engage with members of their communities. “Building relationships is the key. I am working with the LEDC on a project that unites Latino restaurant owners on Lake Street. The upcoming Lake Street Taco Tour is a perfect example of how competing businesses can work together for a mutual goal—in this case transforming Lake Street into a go-to destination for Latino food.”

LEDCHarold recently met with more than a dozen business owners at one of the two LEDC locations on Lake Street. “We had an hour of intense concentration, covering such topics as getting to know your customers, enhancing customer loyalty by exceeding expectations, and creating sustainability through repeat business,” he said. “I was impressed by the knowledge sharing between the business owners. Learning from each other is essential.”

Earlier in May 2013, LEDC Vice President Mario Hernández attended the Multicultural Student Leadership Association Cinco de Mayo celebration in the college’s Student Life Center. Mario spoke about how the college and Latino communities can collaborate to expand higher education opportunities while advancing diversity on campus. He later met with DCTC administrators, including Mike Opp, interim vice president of academic and student affairs, and Gayle Larson, dean of business, technology and general education.

“Harold Torrence has been supporting LEDC in multiple capacity building roles,” Mario said. “He’s advised us on how to design trainings so they can count for college credit and has provided trainings for staff and LEDC business members on topics such as sales and customer service. Harold is a vital connection for us and our members to DCTC.”

Harold is excited about continuing his work with the LEDC. “Collaborations between colleges like DCTC and economic development organizations like the LEDC are mutually beneficial,” he said. “The ultimate benefactors are our students as well as businesses and individuals in our communities.”

Collaboration with LEDC

The Art of Persuasion Seminar


More about Harold Torrence

Harold Torrence | Business Management InstructorHarold Torrence, Ed.D, is an instructor in the Business Management department at Dakota County Technical College. He is the college’s new Business & Services chair and also chairs the DCTC Diversity Council. He serves as faculty advisor to the Multicultural Student Leadership Association, or MSLA. Harold’s areas of focus are:

Harold holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from UNITEC, or Universidad Tecnológica del Centro. He also holds both a Masters of Arts in Management and a Master in Public Administration from Hamline University. In 2012, he earned a Doctorate in Education from Hamline University.

Bringing an extensive background in international business to his teaching position, Harold has a passion for thoroughly understanding the multicultural dimensions of today’s organizations. He began his career in Venezuela, where he spent several years supporting the consumer sales and marketing departments for a large oil corporation. In the United States, Harold spent three years developing an international distribution network with a human resources consulting firm. He sold software, training and consulting products throughout 13 Latin American countries.

Harold joined DCTC in early 2005. He enjoys working with businesses and individuals by applying his experience and passion for business and education through his role as a DCTC instructor. Over the last nine years, he has taught the following courses at DCTC:

  • International Business
  • Managing Diversity
  • Multicultural Mentoring
  • Multicultural Conflict Resolutions
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Management Effectiveness
  • Foundations of Management
  • Quality Management
  • Effective Business Communication
  • Project Management
  • Spanish

In 2009, Harold was named to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Minnesota 25 on the Rise, an award that recognizes 25 Latino men and women under the age of 40 from around the state who have contributed immensely to their communities across a wide range of areas, including business, government, law, finance, entrepreneurship and education. He resides with his wife, Liliana, in Woodbury, Minn. Both are both musicians. Harold sings and plays guitar; Liliana sings and plays piano. They have two children, Jonathan, 12, and Susana, 7.

For more information about Business Management programs at DCTC, contact:
]]> 0
Patch Management Safeguards DCTC Network Mon, 19 May 2014 20:42:41 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Mac specialist Matt Nohava helps shore up IT security
by Jason Lachowsky

In an era where high-profile, high-cost security breaches seem all too frequent, network security is of principle importance. Dakota County Technical College is not immune to these threats and is taking proactive action to plug any potential security holes. In some ways, a college campus is uniquely vulnerable because students bring their own devices to campus and connect them to the wireless network. You can’t assume those devices are up to date. DCTC’s wireless network was designed with this in mind.

Matt Nohava, a Macintosh systems administrator in the DCTC IT department, noted that the college’s wireless networks do not have access to the college’s internal networks. “We don’t want some form of malware to infect the rest of campus,” he said.

Although DCTC uses a number of methods to protect its network and computers, a crucial step in prevention is patching—a patch is a small piece of software used to correct an identified issue with software or an operating system. Almost all software companies will periodically release patches to correct discovered issues, including security risks, in their programs.

“You might not see the effects of patched software, but in the background there are bug fixes and security updates,” Matt pointed out. “We want to make sure that our first line of defense is taken care of.”

Keeping on top of frequently released patches and making sure they are applied as needed is known as patch management. The SANS Institute, an Internet security training firm, identifies patch management as one of their Critical Security Controls. Matt agrees: “Patch remediation is one of the first steps in making sure you have secure machines.”

Matt Nohava, DCTC IT Macintosh Systems Administrator“Working in the IT department makes for an interesting day. At one point, you could be down supporting automotive, and the next you’re fixing a broken server. I like working as a part of a small IT staff. While we all have our specialties, everyone is ready to jump in as needed.” — Matt Nohava, Macintosh Systems Administrator

If patches are managed computer by computer, keeping an environment updated can be very time-consuming. Inevitably, some computers will be missed. “That’s how we used to do it,” Matt recalled. “We would manually install patches on every single machine. If we wanted to update a lab, for instance, we would have to unlock the entire lab and then push out the patches. It took quite a bit of extra time, and it was very possible to miss certain updates.” Matt added that if patching occurred during the workday, employees could be temporarily prevented from accessing their computers. Worse still, students could be stopped from using lab computers.

The college has decided to choose Lumension® as their patch management system solution. Matt reported that Lumension is very helpful in determining what needs to be updated, which means unnecessary updates are not applied. “With Lumension, a piece of software is installed and it scans the hardware and software to check the version,” he summarized. “Lumension not only updates, it checks for vulnerability and holes as well.” Another plus for Lumension is that the solution is cross-platform. DCTC is a mix of Mac and Windows PCs. Many machines even have the ability to dual boot to either operating system.

Matt also likes that Lumension has a lightweight client. The DCTC IT department looks for software that does not intrude during a staff member or  instructor’s day. At this time, IT has deployed Lumension to a significant portion of the campus, including labs and smart rooms. The software is receiving some real-world testing before being deployed on staff and faculty computers, but that is the next step. Keeping to a schedule is one challenge Matt envisions for certain computers. Since lab computers are frozen to a certain state and return to that state on reboot, IT needs to manually go in and thaw the machines before they can be updated.

Ultimately, Matt believes that Lumension, once fully implemented, will save the department time and allow IT staff to focus on other priorities. He enjoys his job at DCTC. “Working in the IT department makes for an interesting day,” he said. “At one point, you could be down supporting automotive, and the next you’re fixing a broken server. I like working as a part of a small IT staff. While we all have our specialties, everyone is ready to jump in as needed.”

Matt Nohava grew up in Webster, Minn., which he described as a “town with a mill and that’s about it.” During the summer, he enjoys camping at his parent’s seasonal campsite near Zumbrota. He and his wife, Lindsay, reside in Farmington, Minn., and have two dogs, a golden doodle and a Shih Tzu-poodle mix. Matt and Lindsay are expecting their first child in October.

For more information about the DCTC IT department, contact:
]]> 0
DCTC Awarded $300,000 MJSP Grant Mon, 19 May 2014 14:07:36 +0000 Continue reading ]]> College partnering with BTD Manufacturing

Dakota County Technical College received a $300,000 grant from the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership (MJSP) to fund training, including robotic welding and fabrication, for 290 BTD Manufacturing employees.

Pat McQuillan, director of the Continuing Education and Customized Training division at Dakota County Technical College, and the Center for Professional and Workforce Development at Inver Hills Community College, reported that MJSP awarded the grant March 3, 2014.

“DCTC and BTD Manufacturing are excited by this training partnership made possible by the MJSP grant,” McQuillan said. “The training will be delivered to BTD employees at the company’s facilities in Detroit Lakes and Lakeville. Congratulations to Larry Lewis, the manufacturing and technology coordinator at DCTC, for his great work on this project.”

(left to right) Kerrin Swecker, Lakeville City Council,  Larry Lewis, Paul Moe, DCTC CT Coordinator, Lakeville Mayor Matt Little, Paul Gintner, BTD President and CEO, Bart Davis, Lakeville City Council

(left to right) Kerrin Swecker, Lakeville City Council, Larry Lewis, DCTC CT Coordinator, Paul Moe, MJSP Director, Matt Little, Lakeville Mayor, Paul Gintner, BTD President and CEO, Bart Davis, Lakeville City Council

Headquartered in Detroit Lakes, Minn., BTD has been a leader in the tool and die industry since the company began in 1979. Business growth evolved and led to the opening of two additional Minnesota locations in Lakeville and Otsego. With the grant, DCTC will conduct training in the following areas:

  • DCTC-BTD MJSP GrantRobotic Welding
  • Tool Making
  • Electrical Systems
  • Computer Training
  • Management & Leadership • Fabrication
  • Mechanical systems
  • Hydraulic Training
  • Safety Training (OSHA)
  • Continuous Improvement

Paul Gintner, BTD president and CEO, is looking forward to seeing the positive results the training will bring: “We are very excited about BTD receiving this grant through the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership Program. We will not only be improving our team’s skills, but will also be able to grow in this new market of Lakeville and expand the services we provide to our customers. We are grateful for the support of DCTC and their commitment to the quality of business in Dakota County.”

From the MJSP Funded Projects and Grant Management Web page:

Paul Ginter, BTD President and CEO, Larry Lewis, DCTC CT Coordinator, Paul Moe, MJSP DirectorSince its establishment in 1979, BTD Manufacturing has expanded operations and acquired several additional companies which provide a wide range of contract and custom metal works manufacturing for customers that include 3M, Freightliner, Arctic Cat and Cummins. BTD currently operates six facilities, with five in Minnesota (Detroit Lakes, Otsego, and three in Lakeville) and one in Illinois. Its Minnesota operations account for 717 of the 934 current employees. The addition of the third facility in Lakeville and the investment of robotics welding equipment have resulted in an immediate and significant need for training in robotics welding techniques. While formal welding training is available in Minnesota, there is little to no advanced training, i.e. robotics.

MJSP funding will support a partnership with BTD and Dakota County Technical (DCTC) to meet the training needs of 290 employees (267 current; 23 new) working at the Lakeville and Detroit Lakes plants. Training modules include: Robotic Welding; Fabrication; Tool Making; Mechanical, Electrical and Hydraulic Systems; Computer, Safety (OSHA), Management & Leadership and Continuous Improvement. DCTC will deliver training in Lakeville and Detroit Lakes with MN State Technical & Community College assisting with training in Detroit Lakes. The purchase of mobile robotic welding training equipment (Robotic Education Cell 2.0) will provide hands-on skills development for employees at their work sites.

One DCTC instructor will attend the FANUC Certified Education Robot Training and be certified to offer the training. Training will result in durable skills and a prepared workforce needed to successfully expand BTD’s operations and grow as a Minnesota employer. DCTC will enhance its capacity with the addition of robotic welding training that will provide DCTC students and other Minnesota employers increased resources to develop their skills in this area.

Top photo: Paul Ginter, BTD President and CEO, Larry Lewis, DCTC CT Coordinator, Paul Moe, MJSP Director

For more information about Continuing Education and Customized Training at Dakota County Technical College, contact:
  • Larry Lewis
    Manufacturing & Technology Coordinator
For more information about BTD Manufacturing, contact:



]]> 0
DCTC Hosts Camera Club Event Mon, 19 May 2014 07:00:55 +0000 Continue reading ]]> TCACCC Spring Break draws more than 300 photographers to campus

TCACCC Spring Break 2014Darrell Tangen, a photography instructor at Dakota County Technical College, helped organize the annual Twin Cities Area Council of Camera Clubs Spring Break, which took place Saturday, March 22, 2014, on the college’s main campus in Rosemount, Minn. The seminar featured nearly 30 workshops while delivering the expertise of 15 guest speakers.

“Over the last decade, twenty-one camera clubs in southern Minnesota and Wisconsin have organized a weekend of photography workshops for more than eight hundred of their members,” Darrell said. “TCACCC Spring Break is one of the largest amateur photography events in Twin Cities—and it’s open to the general public.”

Darrell reported that DCTC hosted Spring Break for the second consecutive year—and 2014 proved the biggest ever with more than 300 people attending. “Spring Break was a great opportunity to show off our Photography department and facilities to a very active photography group,” he said, adding that a fair number of attendees would likely be inspired to take part-time classes at DCTC due to their positive experience during the event. Click the image above right for a list of the participating camera clubs.

TCACCC Spring Break 2014 breakdown
  • © North Beacon Photography | KJ McKeehen29 separate one-hour workshops presented in seven different rooms
  • 15 guest speakers presented a wide variety of topics
  • 10 industry vendors displays, including Adobe, West Photo, National Camera and White House Custom Color.
  • University of Minnesota Raptor Center exhibited wild birds outside Library Atrium for photo opportunities
  • More than a dozen professional models volunteered to pose for hundreds of photographs during a runway show in Main Commons
  • © North Beacon Photography | Ron McKeehenMore than a dozen door prizes donated by vendors and participants
  • Three award ceremonies showcased winning photographs submitted by club participants throughout the year
  • More than 60 award-winning photo prints on display
  • Lunch buffet provided by ISD 917 culinary arts; price included in $40 ticket
Minnesota Raptor Center gallery | Images courtesy of Eric Haugen Photography | Eric Haugen Photography on Facebook
© Eric Haugen Photography © Eric Haugen Photography © Eric Haugen Photography © Eric Haugen Photography © Eric Haugen Photography © Eric Haugen Photography
Darrell Tangen wished to thank a full complement of people for assisting with the event:
  • DCTC CIO Todd Jagerson and his IT staff for managing projectors, computers and sound systems for the presenters
  • TCACCC Spring Break Committee for lining up vendors and speakers
  • DCTC Customized Training Coordinator Larry Lewis for setting up the contract and working out tons of details
  • DCTC Photography students for helping with equipment and room setup
  • DCTC Graphic Design Specialist Jeff Siltala-Choban for creating programs and delivering DCTC can coolers for each attendee
  • DCTC Operations personnel for providing tables, rooms, chairs and dividers setup

Photography student perspectives

When Ron and Kjerstin McKeehen enrolled in the Photography program at DCTC spring semester 2012, they were taking a major step on the path to new careers as a wife-and-husband team. In 2009, Ron experienced a stroke while blowing snow from a neighbor’s driveway. Finding his own driveway blocked by freshly plowed snow and no ambulances available due to the snowstorm, Ron was rescued by his son, who lived nearby and drove him to the hospital.

“I lost all my long-term memory and had to relearn the most basic things,” Ron said. “That is a scary feeling—also humorous and frustrating. The stroke changed our way of life.”

Ron McKeehenRon, 51, had worked in management in the RV industry for most of his career. Kjerstin, 37, started working in the daycare industry at the age of 16. She and her mom were both teachers at Children’s World in Apple Valley, Minn. A back injury requiring surgery made daycare work problematic for Kjerstin. The decision to go back to school and pursue photography came naturally. Both Ron and Kjerstin had a passion for the field. Ron loves the freedom inherent in photography’s creative process. Kjerstin was already a photography buff and wanted to increase her technical knowledge. Because they reside in Inver Grove Heights, DCTC was not only close to home, but also had a topnotch Photography program.

“I love working in the studios,” said Kjerstin, a Rosemount native and a 1995 graduate of Rosemount High School. “One of the biggest benefits is the opportunity to check out and use the program’s great camera equipment, including lenses and lights. We’ve also gone on field trips to the North Shore six times. This fall we’ll be taking our seventh trip.”

Ron’s stroke rehabilitation therapist advised him not to take on the challenge of college-level coursework. “I’m hardheaded,” said Ron, a native of Detroit, Mich. “I knew I would have to work harder than other students. I put in long hours of study in remedial math and took part in a new English tutoring program.”

That determination earned Ron a 3.99 GPA and landed him a job in the Photography program’s equipment lockup alongside Kjerstin. His mechanical aptitude keeps him busy maintaining equipment. His work ethic motivates him to leave the college a better place than when he arrived.

TCACCC Spring Break“It was interesting to see the different levels of knowledge and experience all working together to get great photos.” — Ron McKeehen on TCACCC Spring Break

Kjerstin McKeehenKjerstin, who goes by the nickname KJ, noted the McKeehens are a Canon family. Ron shoots with an EOS-1D X; she shoots with an EOS 5D Mark III. She also mentioned that she and Ron have launched their own business, North Beacon Photography. They shoot family portraits and weddings as well as fine art photography.

“Eventually, we would like to do underwater photography,” Kjerstin said, adding that Ron was an avid scuba diver, reaching the level of divemaster. He specialized in cold-water diving, exploring wrecks in the Great Lakes. He taught recreational and technical diving, the latter to area police and fire departments. “We would use a swimming pool to shoot trash-the-dress wedding portraits, which are becoming more and more popular.”

All together, Kjerstin and Ron have six children, Melissa, 24, Michael, 23, Mandy, 20, Maria, 17, Morgan, 13, and Macie, 10. They have one grandchild, Melissa’s daughter, Hailey, a 1-year-old. Ron has completed his A.S. degree in Photography and taken a number of photography-related business classes with plans to take courses in the college’s Entrepreneurship/Small Business program. Kjerstin is on track to earn her A.S. in Photography in fall 2015.

North Beacon Photography gallery
© North Beacon Photography © North Beacon Photography © North Beacon Photography © North Beacon Photography © North Beacon Photography © North Beacon Photography © North Beacon Photography © North Beacon Photography © North Beacon Photography © North Beacon Photography © North Beacon Photography © North Beacon Photography

Banner image courtesy of Eric Haugen Photography

For more information about Photography at DCTC, contact:
Video clip of TCACCC Spring Break courtesy of the Western Wisconsin Photography Club

]]> 0
Bradley Kolle: The Power of Hard Work Mon, 19 May 2014 02:41:33 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Heavy Duty Truck grad takes new job at Cummins NPower
by Kelly Darnell

Booker T. Washington once said, “Nothing ever comes to one that is worth having, except as a result of hard work.” Bradley Kolle exemplified this adage over the past two years while completing the Heavy Duty Truck Technology program at Dakota County Technical College. Having graduated this year, Brad is now reaping the rewards of his hard work and is very grateful for all the opportunities that have led him to his current position with Cummins NPower.

Brad was interested in heavy duty trucks right out of high school, but didn’t immediately pursue Heavy Duty Truck Technology at DCTC. He tried a four-year college, but found that it wasn’t a good match. A part-time job for the city of Apple Valley kept Brad busy, and he was able to gain some experience working on various kinds of mechanical equipment. After Apple Valley, Brad knew that working on heavy duty trucks was something he enjoyed and wanted to pursue. He heard good things about DCTC, so decided to enroll in the college’s program.

Brad KolleIf you’re considering entering the Heavy Duty Truck Technology program, Brad’s advice would be to work hard. “If you come here and give effort, you’re gonna see great rewards,” he said. “I would recommend the program to anyone.” Brad has certainly been a prime example of where the right attitude can take you.

The Heavy Duty Truck Technology program was a perfect fit for Brad. “I’ve always been very hands-on; I didn’t like reading it, I liked doing it,” he explained. Except for some preparatory reading, the majority of his education consisted of hands-on learning. Brad especially enjoys doing engine work, even undertaking large projects like rebuilding an engine. “I thought it would be much more complicated than it actually is,” he said. “It’s hard to believe that I can do this now!” His job at Cummins NPower tackles some major repairs, mostly related to engines or emissions.

The two-year Heavy Duty Truck Technology program is accredited by NATEF (National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation) and both instructors are ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) master certified. Changes in emission mandates obligate today’s technicians to be highly trained and very adaptable. In fact, toxic emissions weren’t regulated at all until 1970. Since then there has been a 10,000 percent reduction in the particulate matter (black smoke) being released into the air. Technicians like Brad implement these changes to make the environment safe for everyone. In addition to keeping up with emission reduction, all diesel technicians must pass drug tests and physical examinations as well as possess clean driving records and a commercial driver’s license.

Computer skills are also necessary, as almost everything is now run electronically and a truck can have more than 15 computers on board. Brad reported that the DCTC program prepared him very well, teaching teaching him the latest technology and new innovations in his career field. “When I started my new job, it was amazing how much I knew compared to people who had been in the industry for twenty years,” he said.

Heavy duty trucks with Cummins engines

International DuraStarFreightliner CascadiaPeterbilt 365Kenworth T800

Brad’s attitude is not only leading to personal success, but also inspiring those who are training the next generation of technicians. HDTT Instructor Ken Klassen is very proud of everything his student has accomplished. “Brad was fully committed to his education at DCTC,” Klassen said. “As his second-year instructor, I knew in a short amount of time that Brad wanted to learn as much as possible while enrolled in our HDTT program. This type of attitude and commitment is the driving force behind my teaching.”

Brad recently acquired a job at Cummins NPower, an engine and power generation systems distributor based in White Bear Lake, Minn. This is a very desirable position, and Brad attributes his success to all the opportunities DCTC gave him to build up his resume. Besides the basic education, he was able to participate in SkillsUSA and take three ASE mechanical tests due to his high grades.

HDTT Instructor Ken Klassen

HDTT Instructor Ken Klassen

“DCTC also has a partnership with Cummins,” Brad explained. “You do their online training as a part of the course, so I was able to put that on my application as well.” Brad found that transitioning from the classroom to the workplace has been an adjustment, but since the education DCTC provided prepared him so well, the change hasn’t been too difficult. The main challenge Brad faces is that everyone does things slightly differently. “I’m just learning how to operate in a shop, how that shop does business or how the repairs work.”

When he isn’t working, Brad enjoys sports and plays golf and softball in the summer. He also loves the outdoors and you can find him camping during his days off. Still, Brad really enjoys being a heavy duty truck technician, and it’s his passion for his job that keeps him going every day. “It’s something I like to do, so it doesn’t seem like that hard of work. I just try to get the most out of it,” he said, very thankful that he is doing something he loves.

If you’re considering entering the Heavy Duty Truck Technology program, Brad’s advice would be to work hard. “If you come here and give effort, you’re gonna see great rewards,” he said. “I would recommend the program to anyone.” Brad has certainly been a prime example of where the right attitude can take you.

In the words of his instructor, Ken Klassen, “With his drive and determination, Brad is on his way to becoming one our industry’s finest diesel technicians.”

About the author…

Kelly DarnellKelly Darnell grew up in Coon Rapids, Minn., and hasn’t strayed from the Twin Cities suburbs in her 17 years. Kelly was home-schooled until starting PSEO at Inver Hills in fall semester 2013. When she finishes her A.A. degree at IHCC, she plans on transferring to a four-year college to complete her bachelor’s degree in creative writing and communication. Writing has been Kelly’s passion for as long as she can remember—and she would love to turn writing into a career.

“But most of all, I want to make a difference in this world through the words I say,” she added, “for the pen is indeed mightier than the sword.”

When she’s not writing stories or blogging, Kelly Darnell enjoy spending time with friends, watching Doctor Who and reading.

For more information about Heavy Duty Truck Technology at Dakota County Technical College, contact:
]]> 0
Guitarist Eric Kratochvil Picks a College Career Sat, 17 May 2014 21:21:03 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Studying graphic design technology makes sense for Twin Cities musician

Eric Kratochvil playing with RhinoMinnetonka native, Eric Kratochvil, 44, plays guitar for Rhino, a five-member, party rock band based in the Twin Cities. Known for high-energy shows, a signature, full-band drum solo, and a song list that includes modern, alternative, 80s, classic rock and country music, Rhino has nearly 30 performances scheduled, including several outdoor shows, from May to September 2014. Eric is also graduating from Dakota County Technical College this semester with an A.A.S. degree in Graphic Design Technology. Combine that with the 2014 Visual Communications Portfolio Show in May, a major event for all VCOM grads-to-be, and that means Eric is having a very busy spring.

Rhino“I have been doing the graphic design work for Rhino promotional materials,” said Eric, who also handles the band’s website and Facebook page. “I got caught up in the work and decided I would take it further.”

Eric has been making his living as a professional musician since graduating from Hopkins High School in 1988. Heading for college was a major sea change so he definitely needed to choose the right institution. He looked into the Graphic Design Technology program at DCTC and discovered that the curriculum had what he needed. He also liked that the campus is nearby and tuition is affordable.

Rhino“The program teaches you how to apply fundamental design techniques,” Eric said. “You also learn how to use design software like Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator. One of my goals was to become very good with the software programs. The instructors know their stuff and have solid artistic backgrounds. Many are artists in their own right.”

One added benefit for Eric was finding out that he really likes photography. “I took an Intro to Photography course and loved it,” he said. Equipped with his newfound knowledge, he bought a Canon Rebel T3i and enjoys shooting outdoor naturescapes, especially around the North Shore of Lake Superior.

Slippin' into Darkness book cover

Eric’s graphic design book cover project

Connie Larson, one of Eric’s graphic design instructors, appreciates his work ethic and commitment to completing first-rate projects. “Self-motivation is essential for success,” Connie said. “Eric is a great example that personal initiative will help you reach your goals. He’s a success story!”

Eric’s design work

Key West posterRed Wing Shoe adPolaris ad

Mama Rita's pizza menu outsideMama Rita's pizza menu insideHusqvarna chainsaw ad

Eric is looking forward to exploring the world of freelance graphic design after he graduates. He sees a range of networking opportunities in the music industry and likes the idea of merging the two worlds. “The band is my priority because that’s how I make my living,” he said, “but I need to plan for a career beyond rock-’n’-roll. Graphic design is the perfect fit.”

Eric resides in Bloomington, Minn., with Lisa Ahrens, his significant other of eight years. Eric and Lisa have two cats, Mr. Fluffy Von Puffinstien, 4, a 16-pound longhair hybrid, and The Beef, 5, a massive Russian Blue who weighs more than Mr. Fluffy.

For more information about Graphic Design Technology at DCTC, contact:

]]> 0
Upfront Writing Round Table Tue, 13 May 2014 22:00:26 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Turbo tutoring in English pays off

Brett Kolles and John Gianoulis have tried a new approach to help students dial in on their Composition I coursework at Dakota County Technical College. Brett, an English instructor, and John, the Writing Center tutor, concluded that a round-table workshop might succeed, one with four to five diverse Comp I students participating in an intensive exploration of composition rules and elements. The group met once a week for an hour over the course of five weeks, starting in February 2014 and ending in March. The students taught each other as they investigated practices linked to good composition—with the common goal of improving their writing skills. Brett and John were present to guide the discussion and provide expert insights on written communication. The pilot program is called Upfront.

English Instructor Brett Kolles

Brett Kolles

“A lot of credit for the idea goes to the Developmental Education Task Force,” said Brett, referring to a committee composed of English and mathematics faculty led by Gayle Larson, dean of technology, business and general education, and Pat Lair, director of student success. “The energy level at our meetings has been incredible. This task force is one of the best committees I’ve ever served on. Upfront’s success is due in large part to Gayle and Pat’s support.”

Brett reported that the first Upfront group included four highly motivated students of different ages and backgrounds. “They gelled as a cohort,” Brett said. “All four stayed with the program and moved up to B-level and A-level work in their Comp I class. Their success in Upfront carried over to other classes and they became more engaged in college overall. They called their Upfront meetings the fastest hour on campus. They wanted to continue meeting when the workshop ended.”

Writing Center Tutor John Gianoulis

John Gianoulis

John Gianoulis likes how Upfront blended small-group discussion with one-on-one tutoring. Writing topics changed each week, starting with sentence fragments before switching to run-on sentences, possessives, Modern Language Association (MLA) format and citation, and ending with proofreading skills. “We had a great first cohort,” John said. “Students teaching each other in a round-table setup really works. We are excited about moving forward with Upfront and working with new students.”

Dean Gayle Larson noted that Upfront is a solid step toward ensuring student success in critical subjects such as English and math. “Through the Upfront workshop developed by Brett Kolles and John Gianoulis, Composition I students have gained additional confidence and skills in their ability to write, which will serve them well not only while in college, but for the rest of their lives,” she said. “For the students who participated, the extra five-hour investment has bought exceptional dividends.”

Student perspectives

Dean Sazama

Dean Sazama

Dean Sazama
Age: 23
Hometown: Minneapolis, Minn.
Residence now: Lakeville, Minn.
Program area: Undecided

A 2009 graduate of Lakeville South High School, Dean Sazama enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2010. Dean served for 4.5 years, deploying to Kuwait for a year as an unit supply specialist in the infantry. A first-generation college student, he decided give DCTC a shot on the G.I. Bill. He likes that the college is vet-friendly and his experiences with staff have been “outstanding.” He also likes that the campus has a Wellness Center.

On Upfront: “Upfront has been beneficial and I would recommend the workshop to students who need help with their writing. The learning is more one-on-one. My biggest issues were run-on sentences and commas. I’ve gone from turning in C papers to getting As. I wish the workshop could have gone on longer.”

The father of a 9-month-old boy, Caden, Dean pointed out that he is going to college as much for his son as for himself. “Caden is a little bundle of joy,” he said. Dean has not made a final decision regarding his future career. His goal is to be successful and be happy.

Ron McKeehen

Ron McKeehen

Ron McKeehen
Age: 51
Hometown: Detroit, Mich.
Residence now: Inver Grove Heights, Minn.
Program area: Photography

When Ron McKeehen and his wife, Kjerstin, enrolled in the Photography program at DCTC spring semester 2012, they were taking a major step on the path to new careers as a wife-and-husband team. In 2009, Ron experienced a stroke while blowing snow from a neighbor’s driveway. Finding his own driveway blocked by freshly plowed snow and no ambulances available due to the snowstorm, Ron was rescued by his son, who lived nearby and drove him to the hospital.

“I lost all my long-term memory and had to relearn the most basic things,” Ron said. “That is a scary feeling—also humorous and frustrating. The stroke changed our way of life.”

Ron’s stroke rehabilitation therapist advised him not to take on the challenge of college-level coursework. “I’m hardheaded,” said Ron, a native of Detroit, Mich. “I knew I would have to work harder than other students. I put in long hours of study in remedial math and took part in a new English tutoring program.”

That determination earned Ron a 3.99 GPA and landed him a job in the Photography program’s equipment lockup alongside Kjerstin. His mechanical aptitude keeps him busy maintaining equipment. His work ethic motivates him to leave the college a better place than when he arrived.

On Upfront: “Brett and John are taking on the extra challenge of making sure we understand the concepts taught in Comp I. English was the subject I was worried most about when I returned to college. Thanks to Upfront, my writing skills have really improved. I’m getting an A in the class.”

All together, Kjerstin and Ron have six children, Melissa, 24, Michael, 23, Mandy, 20, Maria, 17, Morgan, 13, and Macie, 10. They have one grandchild, Melissa’s daughter, Hailey, a 1-year-old. They have started their own photography business, North Beacon Photography.

For more information about the Upfront program at DCTC, contact:

Banner image: 1919: Dorothy Parker among the founding members of the Algonquin Round Table —image courtesy of the Condé Nast Archive

While writing theater crticism for Vanity Fair, Parker, Robert Benchley and Robert E. Sherwood begin a series of luncheon salons at the nearby Algonquin Hotel. A 1938 book party at the Algonquin Hotel: seated, left to right, Fritz Foord, Wolcott Gibbs, Frank Case and Dorothy Parker; standing, Alan Campbell, St. Clair McKelway, Russell Maloney and James Thurber.

]]> 0
Sustainability Is an Energy Equation Tue, 13 May 2014 18:24:34 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Architectural technology and interior design students visit Main Street Project

By Randy Olson, DCTC Associate Dean of Design & Technology

“Sustainability is an energy equation” stated Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin, also known as Regi, the chief operating officer of Main Street Project in Northfield, Minn. Regi was addressing a group of DCTC architectural technology and interior design students during a field trip to his sustainable-concept residence on a cold but sunny day in early November 2013.

The students had the opportunity to hear Regi’s philosophy on energy and food production and then see firsthand how he has implemented those concepts into a working model. Regi informed students that conventional agriculture consumes 15 units of energy for each unit it produces. His farming model, on the other hand, balances this energy equation and provides a sustainable ecosystem.

On just over two acres, Regi constructed an agricultural prototype based on his sustainable concepts, allowing the protoype to occupy less than half the ground space. Students also got the chance to see the house Regi built on his property. Only a little over a year old, Regi’s home applies the same sustainable concepts he uses in agriculture, only incorporated into a livable space.

Main Street Project Field Trip
Main Street Project field trip: Residence Main Street Project field trip: Air exchanger intake Main Street Project field trip: air exchanger Main Street Project field trip: Field integration Main Street Project field trip: Greenhouse Main Street Project field trip: Future aquaponic tanks

Students learned how this home took shape after fire engulfed Regi’s previous residence. He was determined to rebuild an energy-efficient house that minimized fire danger. At first, students may have thought this was an overreaction since the new house does not have a furnace, or any sort of open flame.

After gathering everyone in his living room, Regi gave a slideshow and then led a tour of his home. The slides detailed how his residence was constructed with 12-inch-thick walls and special construction techniques that minimize heat loss. Furthermore, the house incorporates a novel system that garners heat and cooling from a very simple geothermal system. A matrix consisting of 400 feet of 9-inch plastic pipe is buried seven feet underground. At this depth, the temperature is around 50 °F year-round. Air pulled through this pipe is tempered and provides the bulk of heating and cooling. Additional heat is provided by the home’s occupants and, on very cold days, supplemental electric radiant heating.

As the presentation concluded, a collective “wow” was heard from many students and several lingered to ask more detailed questions. They had been part of an eye-opening experience—a true departure from the conventional suburban home. Regi left students with this reminder: “You are the change agents. As you enter the industry, it will be up to you to shepherd in a more sustainable mode of construction.”

About Main Street Project

Main Street Project

Main Street Project has been working with under-represented communities since 2005. That’s when we collaborated on an ambitious four-state, multi-year community building initiative called Raíces (roots) – organizing primarily with Latino youth and adults in diverse rural communities.

Problem solving, bridge building, storytelling, empowerment, equity – the powerful goals of the Raíces program became the framework for subsequent program efforts at Main Street Project with rural and urban communities: civic participation, media justice and farm enterprise training.

Today, Main Street Project’s story is framed by the story of our nation’s current food and agriculture system. It’s telling that most U.S. farmworkers – predominately Latino immigrants – live well below the federal poverty line. Low-wage labor artificially props up the conventional system and perpetuates a cycle of poverty and related health challenges among those hard working individuals and their families. (read more) — copy courtesy of the Main Street Project website

For more information about Interior Design at DCTC, contact:
For more information about Architectural Technology at DCTC, contact:
]]> 0
mikeroweWORKS Foundation Partners with AED Foundation to Provide Scholarships Tue, 13 May 2014 16:31:32 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Two HCET students each receive $1,000 for buying tools

Daniel Guertin and Mitch Cooper, two students in the Heavy Construction Equipment Technology program at Dakota County Technical College, each received a $1,000 scholarship from the mikeroweWORKS Foundation in partnership with the AED Foundation, an affiliate of Associated Equipment Distributors..

Roger Gartner, an HCET instructor, reported that the scholarship awards are based on GPA and designated for purchasing tools. “Dan and Mitch are outstanding scholars as well as talented, hardworking technicians with bright futures,” Gartner said. “The scholarships are well deserved.”

(left to right) Chad Sheets, Roger Gartner, Daniel Guertin, Mitch Cooper, Dan Ruzicka, Mike Opp

(left to right) Chad Sheets, Roger Gartner, Daniel Guertin, Mitch Cooper, Dan Ruzicka, Mike Opp

Scholarship recipient spotlights

Mitch Cooper

Mitch Cooper

Mitch Cooper
Age: 19
Hometown: Hastings, Minn.
Residence now: Hampton, Minn.
Academic program: Heavy Construction Equipment Technology
Degree: A.A.S.

Mitch Cooper held three jobs when he was a student at Hastings High School, working as an apprentice mechanic, working for a contractor and working for a trucking company on weekends. Mitch graduated from HHS in 2012 and brought plenty of on-the-job technician experience to the HCET program, having working in the shop at his father’s trucking business since he was 8 years old.

Mitch has turned an internship as a shop technician at Ziegler CAT in Bloomington, Minn., into a full-time job. He originally chose HCET at DCTC for the program’s stellar reputation, internship opportunities, AED accreditation and quality instructors. “Dan and Roger are two of the smartest technicians you’ll ever meet,” Mitch said. “They make it fun to learn.”

In his spare time, Mitch enjoys snowmobiling and four-wheeling. He is excited about the tools he will purchase with the scholarship funds, but hasn’t yet decided what he needs most.

Daniel Guertin

Daniel Guertin

Daniel Guertin
Age: 19
Hometown: Belle Plaine, Minn.
Residence now: Belle Plaine, Minn.
Academic program: Heavy Construction Equipment Technology
Degree: A.A.S.

Daniel Guertin played football and baseball, raced motocross and worked throughout his career at Belle Plaine High School. After graduating in 2012, he enrolled in the HCET program at DCTC, following the same path his dad had taken two decades earlier. Daniel’s mom also attended DCTC, graduating from the bygone Fashion Merchandising program.

Daniel has been working alongside his dad, a heavy equipment technician, since he was 16 years old. He chose HCET at DCTC for the program’s strong partnerships with industry and the knowledge sets of the instructors. “I knew quite a bit coming in from working with my dad,” he said, “but I’ve still learned a lot. The instructors work with you and make sure you understand what they’re teaching.”

Daniel has turned a shop technician internship at RDO Equipment, a John Deere dealer in Burnsville, Minn., into a full-time job. He details cars as a side business to earn extra money. He is looking forward to purchasing a set of angle wrenches for his toolbox with his scholarship dollars.

HCET Students and Faculty

About the mikeroweWORKS Foundation

The mikeroweWORKS Foundation promotes hard work and supports the skilled trades in a variety of areas. We award scholarships to men and women who have demonstrated an interest in and an aptitude for mastering a specific trade.

The Foundation has given more than $1.6 million in scholarships to schools around the country, including Midwest Technical Institute, Tulsa Welding School and Universal Technical Institute. — courtesy of the mikeroweWORKS website

About the AED Foundation

The AED Foundation enhances the success of AED member companies by encouraging continuous learning, providing educational opportunities for today’s employees and improving the quantity and quality of available employees for the future.

Just as a coach values momentum for the spark it gives the team, The AED Foundation wants to capitalize on momentum from new programs that promise dramatic results for our industry.

The development of quality training programs has given momentum to fill the training needs of the members of the Associated Equipment Distributors. They are converting into services that promise to yield a handsome return on investment for the industry in general, and in particular for those who have directly supported the foundation. — courtesy of the AED Foundation website

For more information about Heavy Construction Equipment Technology at DCTC, contact:

HCET Students and Faculty

]]> 0