DCTC Excels at SkillsUSA Competition

SkillsUSA National Championship 2013

Thirty-seven students place at 2013 MN State Championships

A total of 67 students from 25 different academic programs at Dakota County Technical College competed in 30 contests at the 46th Annual Minnesota SkillsUSA Championships Conference held Friday, April 5, Saturday, April 6, and Sunday, April 7, 2013, headquartered at the DoubleTree by Hilton Bloomington and held at various host sites in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. More than 30 DCTC faculty and staff directly contributed to student success at the competitions.

DCTC students placed 34 times, winning 15 gold, 10 silver and nine bronze medals with eight honorable mentions. All told, DCTC students took home 46 medals, including medals for team competitions. Eighteen students from DCTC qualified to compete at the SkillsUSA Championships at the 49th annual National Leadership and Skills Conference June 24–28, 2013, in Kansas City, Mo.

View photos from awards ceremony
View photos from competitions

Gold Medal Winners
  • Clay Carlson—3-D Visualization and Animation (Team)
  •  Mitchell Rolland—3-D Visualization and Animation (Team)
  •  Wen Li—Computer Programming
  •  Kristofer Frelix—Customer Service
  •  Jake Leritz—Diesel Equipment Technology
  •  Russ Gamache—Digital Cinema/Video Product Dev. (Team)
  •  Max Slocum—Digital Cinema/Video Product Dev. (Team)
  •  Jessica Jackson—Early Childhood (Preschool Teaching)
  • Michael Doyle—Engineering Technology (Team)
  • Mason Green—Engineering Technology (Team)
  • Vladimir Kovalchuk—Engineering Technology (Team)
  • Garret Roach—Extemporaneous Speaking
  • Eric Anderson—Industrial Motor Control
  • Eric Musolf—Masonry
  • Brandice Carlson—Medical Math
  • Leah King—Medical Terminology
  • Alex Just—Photography
  • Garret Roach—Prepared Speech
  • Brian Warzeha—Related Technical Math
Silver Medal Winners
  • Maria Barrick—Early Childhood (Preschool Teaching)
  • Chad Brown—Electrical Construction Wiring (RWI)
  • Vadym Snesrud—Entrepreneurship (Team)
  • Joyce Mallery—Entrepreneurship (Team)
  • Kiara Hollie-Sessions—Entrepreneurship (Team)
  • Samantha Hrbek—Entrepreneurship (Team)
  • Gabriel Hartog—Extemporaneous Speaking
  • Troy Ellefson—Job Skill Demonstration A
  • Steven Odom—Masonry
  • Brandice Carlson—Medical Terminology
  • Jessica Hutton—Pin Design
  • Mason Green—Quiz Bowl (Team)
  • Michael Doyle—Quiz Bowl (Team)
  • Vadym Snesrud—Quiz Bowl (Team)
  • Nanci Al-Kordi—Quiz Bowl (Team)
  • Timothy Fink—Quiz Bowl (Team)
  • Jessica Hutton—T-shirt Design
Bronze Medal Winners
  • Cierra Baumgartner—Advertising Design
  • Adam Oxborough—Automotive Service Technology
  • Meghan Miller—Early Childhood (Preschool Teaching)
  • Leah King—Job Interview
  • Emily Dean—Photography
  • Stacy Peterson—Promotional Bulletin Board (Team)
  • Maria Barrick—Promotional Bulletin Board (Team)
  • David Vo—Related Technical Math
  • Timothy Fink—T-shirt Design
  • Tyler Dulitz—Welding
Honorable Mentions
  • Dalton Leritz—Diesel Equipment Technology
  • Blake Jensen—Electrical Construction Wiring
  • Vadym Snesrud—Job Interview
  • Michael Doyle—Job Interview
  • Miao Li—Pin Design
  • Michael Doyle—Related Technical Math
  • Clay Carlson—T-shirt Design
  • Taran Bridgemohan—Welding
DCTC advisors, support staff, competition hosts and volunteers
  • Brenda Arneson
  • Alicia Atwater
  • Nathan Blommel
  • Dawn Braa
  • Mark Brantner
  • Mike Buck
  • Andy Chernisky
  • Jeff Choban
  • Jeff Copeland
  • Jason Dean
  • Scott Determan
  • Darryl Erickson
  • Tim Felch
  • Roger Gartner
  • Paul Geisler
  • Mark Grant
  • Ron Gruenes
  • Benjamin Jackson
  • Ken Klassen
  • Scott Logan
  • Peter Latner
  • Tim McCluskey
  • Nicole Meulemans
  • Donnie Myers
  • Mike Opp
  • Christine Pigsley
  • Gerry Rainford
  • Pete Skoro
  • Jerry Stiles
  • Darrell Tangen
  • Kathy Tettam
  • Kristin Vanevenhoven
For more information about SkillsUSA at DCTC, contact:
  • Anna Voight
    Assistant Director of Student Life

Entrepreneurship Is a Growing Business

DCTC instructor shares experience through NACCE fellowship

Dakota County may be the first two words in Dakota County Technical College, but the college’s influence and impact on entrepreneurship and economic development reach far beyond the county border. Christine Mollenkopf-Pigsley, an entrepreneurship/small business instructor at DCTC, was awarded a 2013 curriculum and training fellowship with the National Association of Community College Entrepreneurship, or NACCE.

“The NACCE Fellows Program is an exciting new addition to our offerings that will benefit our members across the country,”  said NACCE Executive Director Heather Van Sickle. “The Fellows Program will increase access to research and education, helping our members support and grow entrepreneurship in their communities.”

In the next year, Pigsley will assist community and technical colleges across the country in establishing and advancing academic programs in entrepreneurship. She will show institutions how to operate in more entrepreneurial manner as well as how to develop new delivery methods such as noncredit options.

DCTC offered an entrepreneurship program early on. The college recruited Pigsley as associate dean of business and entrepreneurship to develop the Institute for Business, Innovation & Entrepreneurship at the Partners in Higher Education site in Apple Valley, Minn. The institute’s operational formula and its host partnership site have been featured and replicated in states across the nation.

Pigsley returned to the classroom in 2011 to help build the college’s new certificate and degree programs, including a Small Business Operations certificate geared toward home-based entrepreneurs and returning veterans. In fall 2013, DCTC will introduce an A.S. degree in Entrepreneurship & Small Business* that was developed for students who plan to continue their education and make a career at self-employment.

“This fellowship opportunity is hands-on,” explained Pigsley. She has already traveled to California and Massachusetts to provide real-world solutions for two-year colleges. According to Pigsley, state budget cuts and the recession have taken their toll nationally more than in Minnesota. Even so, there is no shortage of interest in entrepreneurship.

“We have colleges that have been offering entrepreneurship courses for years that are now looking to practice what they teach and operate in a manner that is more self-sustaining and locally driven,” she said. “Likewise, some colleges that have focused on a strictly university transfer mission are recognizing that the skills a business owner possesses can be applicable throughout a person’s life and that income patching through self-employment is a reality for many of our students.”

Christine Mollenkopf-Pigsley

Christine Mollenkopf-Pigsley

DCTC also benefits from Pigsley’s fellowship through new ideas and new partnerships. NACCE represents hundreds of two-year colleges in the U.S. as well as many abroad. Pigsley has been able to showcase the high-quality and innovative programs at DCTC on a national stage, cultivating new funding opportunities for the college and Minnesota. Entrepreneurship is coming to Minnesota Friday, June 7, 2013, when two-year public colleges in the state will gather to share best e-ship practices at the NACCE Summit at Ridgewater College in Willmar, Minn.

“Entrepreneurship is one of the hottest growth areas in career and technical education today,” said Pigsley. “I couldn’t be more proud that I have the opportunity to share my experiences in the classroom and in my administrative leadership role with other colleges.”

* Pending MnSCU approval
For more information about Entrepreneurship/Small Business at DCTC or the NACCE Fellows Program, contact:

Alumni Spotlight: Emily J. Berge-Emery

Online courses at DCTC bring the classroom to you

Emily J. Berge-Emery

Emily J. Berge-Emery lives in the country with three small children and a husband who manages a farm full-time. According to Emily, when she wanted to continue her education, the options were limited. Then she found Dakota County Technical College and completed the Accounting program entirely online. In May 2012, she graduated with an A.A.S. degree. This is her story:

What brought you to DCTC?

I heard so many good things about DCTC so I explored their program possibilities. I found their Accounting degree, which was offered fully online. The program brought the classroom experience to me, at my home and on my own time, which was priceless. I enrolled at DCTC because they offered me an experience that was otherwise out of my reach.

Many times I did not feel like I was in an online program because the teachers were very good at communicating and providing lectures specifically for online students. My experience at DCTC was amazing. The teachers were encouraging, knowledgeable and understanding. They made you feel like you were in your own personal classroom.

Share a key memory as a DCTC student.

One thing that always stood out to me as a student at DCTC was the enthusiasm that radiated from the instructors as they taught their courses. There were so many occasions where, during recorded lectures, the instructors explained the book information, carried onto real-world experience and then proceeded to tie the information together. It was like a novel that you just couldn’t put down.

What was your favorite course and why?

Cost Accounting I & II were my favorite courses. Learning about the inner financial workings of factories and the different cost aspects was fascinating to me. Patti Weigand, an accounting instructor, did an amazing job of walking through the information with multiple lectures and real-life examples. She answered questions in a timely manner with thorough and understandable responses.

How has your education at DCTC helped you reach your goals?

Coupled with excellent instructors, DCTC’s online Accounting degree program provided a bridge between me and my goal of becoming a CPA. Since I am not able to attend courses in person, my online education at DCTC opened new doors for me. I now find myself inspired and exploring possibilities that were otherwise unobtainable—and I owe it all to DCTC.

What have you done since graduating from DCTC?

After graduating in May 2012, I decided to further my education and pursue an online bachelor’s degree in accounting at a four-year university. The education that I received from DCTC created a solid foundation for my continued education, a foundation of which I am proud and still rely on today.

What can you tell someone about enrolling at DCTC?

If you are looking for a flexible, online accounting program, want a quality education or solid foundation for continuing education, and want to be more than just a number, then DCTC is the right place for you. You will receive a quality education from knowledgeable instructors who are genuinely passionate and excited about the accounting world. Through hands-on practice, relevant coursework, detailed lectures, supporting instructors and an affordable price, you will be well on your way toward new career possibilities.

For more info about the Accounting program at DCTC, contact:

Interior Design Alum Inspires Students

Ryan Goeres spotlights the value of collaboration in a field he loves

Interior Design faculty and students with Ryan Goeres (top right)

Interior Design faculty and students with Ryan Goeres (top right)

Ryan Goeres

Ryan Goeres

Ryan Goeres, 34, graduated in 2005 with an A.A.S. degree from the Interior Design program at Dakota County Technical College. Eight years later, Goeres is a successful interior designer in Washington, D.C., working for WDG, the oldest architecture, master planning and interiors firm in the nation’s capital.

“WDG is a collaborative firm of architects and interior designers,” said Goeres, a native of Morgantown, W.Va. “I work on the interiors side of WDG Architecture. Right now, I’m involved in six projects, three in D.C. and one each in Maryland, Virginia and New York City.”

Photo by Jenn Trezza, WDG Associate Creative Director, Marketing

Goeres returned to DCTC in early May to meet with around 20 students in the Interior Design program. “I was originally scheduled to present for one hour,” he said. “We ended up going for two hours. I showed them my portfolio and gave a presentation on a couple projects I am working on at WDG. We talked about salaries, resumes and what’s expected from an interior designer in the field. The questions just kept coming and coming.”

With a history spanning more than seven decades, WDG, which stands for Weihe Design Group, has a reputation as a firm both prestigious and leading-edge. Ranked as one of the top 100 architectural firms in the world, WDG has 500-plus buildings in its portfolio, comprising 50 million square feet of office space and 40,000 residential units. The firm’s location in Washington, D.C., opened in 1938; another office opened in Dallas, Texas, 60 years later. Great commercial architecture stands out as the WDG hallmark.

WDG Washington, D.C., staff

WDG Washington, D.C., staff

Goeres enjoyed the experience and remembered how as a student he had been inspired by Interior Design alumni who had returned to the college to tell their stories about life as professional interior designers. His own story features a seven-month internship at KKE Architects in Minneapolis following his graduation from DCTC. That internship—a critical aspect of career development in the interior design profession—led to a job as an interior designer at the firm in early 2006. In September 2007, he was promoted and transferred to the KKE of Nevada, located in Las Vegas, where he later accepted the position as a facilities manager at Blue Martini, an upscale hospitality operation with additional locations in Boca Raton, Tampa, Phoenix and Miami to name a few.

“My job at Blue Martini involved overseeing everything from major property improvements to routine maintenance,” Goeres said. “The position was challenging, yet productive—and I welcomed the opportunity. I got the chance to see interior design from another perspective and learned a lot about HVAC, plumbing and electrical. It was a great learning experience.”

Kathy Huus“It’s a pleasure and honor to have alumni like Ryan take the time to share experiences and expertise with our students. His passion about design and his career are inspiring to our students. Ryan’s sincere interest in giving back to education is commendable.” — Katharine Huus, Interior Design Instructor

At WDG Interiors, Goeres works on extremely complex projects as part of a large team that includes architects and other design professionals. A typical project has a number of phases beginning with programming then schematic design and then on to design development, where we present to the client. The design development phase is the favorite part of the process for Goeres, who enjoys the creative piece, but loves the opportunity to wow the client.

“I showed two WDG projects to the students, 460 New York Avenue and 100 K Street,” he said. “The first thing I pointed out is that on projects of this magnitude you don’t go it alone. Interior designers work in a collaborative environment. Teamwork is everything in the design profession.”

Ryan Goeres“Deadlines never, ever change—unless you’re very lucky.” — Ryan Goeres, Interior Designer, WDG Interiors

Photo by Jenn Trezza, WDG Associate Creative Director, Marketing

Drawing up detailed construction documents is the next phase of the project. The completed blueprints are submitted to the relevant civil authorities for the required permits. The project eventually goes out to bid to up to five contractors. All along the way, the work of the interior designer is subject to a symbiotic relationship with other contributions to the project, including mechanical, electrical, plumbing and more. Those relationships often generate abrupt changes and modifications to the interior design plan.

“I told the students that stress is part of the job and they should plan on working long hours and weekends,” Goeres said. “You have to love the work. In the end, from the interior design perspective, the whole point is that your design is not only safe, functional and aesthetically pleasing, but also makes your client happy. It’s a great feeling when the client likes your work.”

Click on the images below to view presentations on the WDG Interiors projects, 100 K Street and 460 New York Avenue.

Mastering computer software essential for designing interiors is another crucial step for success in the field. Sketching, 3D modeling, drafting and rendering are integral to the job. Goeres is proficient in AutoCAD and Revit as well as Photoshop and other Adobe and Microsoft applications. His specialties are centered on commercial interior design, space planning, finish selection and construction documents. His long-range career goals include becoming a senior interior designer, an associate and then a principal at a firm known for taking on great projects. He is also considering the idea of teaching interior design at the college level later in his career. Ryan Goeres resides in Washington, D.C., and, when he’s not juggling interior design projects at WDG, he enjoys spending time with his girlfriend of four years, Niki LaFemina.

Anne FarniokRyan’s presentation came at a great time. The end of the semester, as students prepare to graduate and look for employment, can be unsettling. Ryan’s story of his journey in the design industry was affirming to our current students. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of alumni involvement. Student dreams become a reality when they hear alumni success stories during a presentation like Ryan’s. Each fall, Design Connexion, our student organization, hosts an alumni panel. — Anne Farniok, Interior Design Instructor

Ryan Goeres with WDG Interior Designer James Canales

Ryan Goeres with WDG Interior Designer James Canales

Photo by Jenn Trezza, WDG Associate Creative Director, Marketing
Information about the interior design profession

According to ISEEK, Minnesota’s career, education and job resource, employment for interiors designers is expected to grow 19.3 percent in the U.S. and 16.1 percent in Minnesota by the year 2020. ISEEK: “Competition for jobs is expected to be strong. Many talented people are attracted to careers as designers. People with little or no formal training in interior design will find it hard to establish a career.”

Acquiring a solid, industry-driven education in commercial, kitchen and bath, and residential design gives DCTC interior design students a powerful competitive advantage. Ninety percent of the program’s grads find employment in the field.

Salary Data

For more information about Interior Design at DCTC, contact:

2013 VCOM Portfolio Show

Miao “Magic” Li takes Best in Show

2013 VCOM Portfolio Show

The 2013 Visual Communications Portfolio Show was held Tuesday, May 7, on the Rosemount campus of Dakota County Technical College. The year-end exhibition showcases the work of the college’s Applied Visual Arts, Graphic Design Technology, Photography, Photographic Imaging Technology, and Multimedia & Web Design graduates. About 200 people attended the evening event, including students, family members, alumni, representatives from business and industry, and prospective students.

Click image below for 2013 VCOM Portfolio Show program

Thirty-four VCOM graduates exhibited their finest work. Attendees voted on the best exhibits in four categories. See below for winners.

Best in Show: Miao “Magic” Li

Magic Li Portfolio

Magic Li

Magic Li

Graphic Design: Tim Hocum

Timothy Hocum Design

Tim Hocum

Tim Hocum

Multimedia/Web: Ali Plevell

Awesome Pelican Productions

Ali Plevell

Ali Plevell

Photography: Robert Grosse

Robbie G Photography

Robert Grosse

Robert Grosse

Spotlight on Magic Li

Magic Li

Magic Li

Photo courtesy of Keesha Winfrey

Magic Li, 29, of Farmington, Minn., originally hails from Shuibu, a town in the county-level city of Taishan in Guangdong province on the South China Sea in the People’s Republic of China. Magic moved with her family to Minnesota in 2008.

VCOM Portfolio Show: Exhibition Design by Magic Li

VCOM Portfolio Show: Exhibition Design by Magic Li

Magic’s Chinese name is Miao Zhen Li. Her pen name is Magic Early. She picked the latter surname in high school as a tribute to the writer, Lu Xun. She adopted her preferred first name in college in recognition of Cardcaptor Sakura, a popular cartoon series in the magical girl genre by Clamp, an all-female manga artist group.

Conversant in five languages—Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, English and a Chinese dialect she grew up speaking in her hometown, Magic developed a keen interest in computers early in her life. She has a passion for drawing and likes the graphic work in Japanese comics, or manga, including work by Arina Tanemura (Full Moon), Clamp (RG Veda), and Kaori Yuki (Earl Cain).

VCOM Portfolio Show: Exhibition Design by Magic Li

VCOM Portfolio Show: Exhibition Design by Magic Li

Magic majored in English at Wuyi University, a 10,000-student, comprehensive institution in the Pearl River Delta of Guangdong near Hong Kong and Macao. She earned her bachelor’s degree. While at WYU, she also took a number of graphic design courses, including classes on Adobe Photoshop and Flash, Autodesk 3ds Max, and Poser.

After researching her higher education options in Minnesota, Magic chose Dakota County Technical College due to the college’s affordable tuition, proximity to her home and a strong VCOM department. She excelled at DCTC, taking Best Graphic Design Portfolio at the 2012 VCOM Portfolio Show.  She graduated with an A.A.S. degree in Graphic Design Technology in fall 2012. This May, she graduated with a 3.99 GPA and her A.A.S. degree in Multimedia & Web Design. She also has a certificate in Interactive Media Design.

Career-wise, Magic sees herself working as a Web and graphic designer at an agency or company until she has the experience and resume to strike out on her own. She would like to publish books—both print and electronic—on teaching Chinese to native English speakers, creating her own animations and developing an app for mobile devices.

To learn more about Magic Li and her work in 3D modeling and animation, Web design, multimedia design, graphic design, video editing and traditional art, visit the following website:
2013 VCOM Portfolio Show Gallery
Photos courtesy of Keesha Winfrey

For more information about Graphic Design Technology at DCTC, contact:
For more information about Applied Visual Arts at DCTC, contact:
For more information about Multimedia & Web Design at DCTC, contact:
For more information about Photography and Photographic Imaging Technology at DCTC, contact: