Auto Body Collision Alumna Blazes a Trail

Elise Groenewold brings a sharp mind and artistic talent to auto industry

Gerry Rainford and Elise Groenewold

ABCT Instructor Gerry Rainford and Alumna Elise Groenewold

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women made up only 1.5 percent of the workforce in the automotive body and related repairers field in 2013. Bump that up to 1.8 percent for automotive service technicians and mechanics. Elise Groenewold, 22, a 2014 graduate of the Auto Body Collision Technology program at Dakota County Technical College, wasn’t thinking about those percentages when she made her career choice. Elise had just graduated from North Hennepin Community College with an Associate in Fine Arts degree. She loved art, but understood the challenges of finding a good-paying job in the art world right out of college.

“Art has always been a passion of mine,” said Elise, who noted that she initially pursued graphic design, but switched to the A.F.A. due her aptitude for drawing and painting by hand. She felt that earning a degree in Auto Body Collision Technology would provide opportunities to harness her artistic side while making good money in a robust occupational field.

“I come from a do-it-yourself family,” she added, “and I’ve loved cars ever since I was a little girl.”


“Job opportunities are projected to be very good for jobseekers with industry certification and formal training in automotive body repair and refinishing and in collision repair. Those without any training or experience will face strong competition for jobs.”

A native of Northfield, Minnesota, and a 2010 graduate of Northfield High School, Elise was nervous about entering a program she knew would be populated by nearly all male students—not to mention breaking into a career field with very few female technicians. She was happily surprised to find that she was one of three women in her class. She also had the advantage that her boyfriend, David Hagfors, a graduate of the DCTC Automotive Technician program and a certified welding inspector, could offer her technical guidance based on his own work experience.

Elise showed that she was an adept learner, not only excelling in the ABCT labs, but also on a national stage. One of 10 students representing DCTC at the 50th Annual SkillsUSA National Championships June 23–27, 2014, in Kansas City, Missouri, she won a bronze medal in one of the most competitive events at the championships, Collision Repair Technology. Elise was the first woman to ever break the top three in that event.

“Before the SkillsUSA Nationals, I brought home practice welds—and David showed me what was good and bad,” Elise recalled. “We worked together, welding in our garage. It was a blast.”

(left to right) Tonya Hartsuiker, Scott Logan, Elise Groenewold, Gerry Rainford, Rachel Grosslein

(left to right) Tonya Hartsuiker, Scott Logan, Elise Groenewold, Gerry Rainford, Rachel Grosslein

During her time at DCTC, Elise continued holding down a job. As a freshman, she worked at Forget-Me-Not, a florist in Northfield; as a sophomore, she worked at Northfield Autobody, the business where she also completed her two-month ABCT internship. She currently works at 3M in St. Paul under contract with Volt Workforce Solutions.

“I work in the Technical Services department at 3M,” said Elise, who landed the job while still a student at DCTC. “I’m lucky that I get to work with the people who are all-knowing about 3M products.”

Elise Groenewold at SkillsUSA Nationals

Elise Groenewold at SkillsUSA Nationals

“Northfield’s Groenewold makes history” by Molly Larsen in Northfield News

Elise is flexible about her long-range career plans. She enjoys working with engineers at 3M and is considering going into automotive design. “I thought I would like painting the most in auto body,” she said, “but what I really love is sculpting and bodywork—following the light with your eye.”

She is also open to teaching as a career and points to her ABCT instructors, Scott Logan and Gerry Rainford, as her inspiration. “Scott and Gerry are awesome teachers,” she said.

“I really like that everyone is connected across the automotive programs in the DCTC Transportation department. You can ask questions and get answers from students and faculty in other programs.” — Elise Groenewold

Gerry Rainford considers Elise a role model for any ABCT student. “Elise is proof that with hard work and attention to detail you can achieve any goal you put your mind to,” he said. “Scott and I are proud of Elise and her accomplishments.”

Elise’s favorite automobiles are the muscle cars from the 1960s and 70s, especially the Camaro and Trans Am. When she’s not studying (she’s busy completing her A.A. degree at North Hennepin), Elise enjoys pheasant hunting with her boyfriend and working on auto body projects at home. She has an older brother, Nathan, 26, a stepsister, Jessica, 28, and a stepbrother, Peter, 24. Her English setter, Alize, is four years old.

For more information about Auto Body Collision Technology at DCTC, contact:

Charting the Future Gallery Walk at DCTC

Monday, Nov. 10, 2014, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Central Commons

Charting the Future Gallery Walk

Dakota County Technical College and other Minnesota State Colleges and Universities are engaged in a collaborative process to develop specific actions to better serve our 435,000 students and communities, strengthen our colleges and universities, and protect our unique character and autonomy.

Even though we remain steadfastly committed to our compact with Minnesota, we know too well that our ability to fulfill this promise is at risk—threatened by challenges that could weaken educational quality and our ability to deliver on our commitments:

  • Funding shifts that threaten quality, access and affordability
  • Increasing competition that affects enrollments in our degree programs, customized training and continuing education
  • Population shifts in which a larger share of Minnesotans are moving to a handful of metropolitan areas
  • Threats to our authority to govern

DCTC Charting the Future Gallery Walk *

Open house-style event specifically designed for you to react to the concepts and themes proposed by the implementation teams.

WHEN: Monday, Nov. 10, 2014, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.


Central Commons
DCTC Main Campus
1300 145th Street East
Rosemount, MN 55068-2999

* An online gallery walk will be made available to individuals not able to attend in person.


The effort addressing these challenges is Charting the Future. The work stems from six recommendations (developed with input from more than 5,000 students, faculty and staff) that were adopted by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees in November 2013:

  • Dramatically increase the success of all learners, especially those in diverse populations traditionally underserved by higher education.
  • Develop a collaborative and coordinated academic planning process that advances affordability, transferability, and access to our programs and services across the state.
  • Certify student competencies and capabilities, expand pathways to accelerate degree completion through credit for prior learning, and foster the award of competency-based credit and degrees.
  • Expand the innovative use of technology to deliver high quality online courses, strengthen classroom instruction and student services, and provide more individualized learning and advising.
  • Work together under new models to be the preferred provider of comprehensive workplace solutions through programs and services that build employee skills and solve real-world problems for communities and businesses across the state
  • Redesign our financial and administrative models to reward collaboration, drive efficiencies, and strengthen our ability to provide access to an extraordinary education for all Minnesotans

To act on the recommendations and translate them into specific actions, eight campus-led implementation teams comprised of students, faculty, and staff were launched.

The implementation teams currently convening include:

The implementation teams that began convening this fall include:

You can stay connected with the work surrounding Charting the Future by accessing the following resources:

If you have questions regarding Charting the Future and the Gallery Walk, contact:
  • Erin Edlund
    Director of Institutional Advancement/Marketing
    Dakota County Community College & Inver Hills Community College
Send comments regarding Charting the Future to MyIdeas@so.mnscu.edu

Campus-Community Engagement as a Strategy for Health

Minnesota Campus Compact fall conference hosted by IHCC and DCTC Center for Experiential Learning Oct. 30, 2014

Minnesota Campus Compact

WHAT: Minnesota Campus Compact Fall Conference “Campus-Community Engagement as a Strategy for Health”

  • Event hosted by IHCC and DCTC Center for Experiential Learning

WHEN: Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014 • 9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m (event starts at 10 a.m.; registration opens at 9:30 a.m.)


Heritage Hall Room 203
Inver Hills Community College
2500 East 80th Street
Inver Grove Heights, MN 55076

COST: Registration is $15 for students and $30 for any IHCC or DCTC faculty and staff • Cost includes lunch • Please register by Thursday, Oct. 15, 2014


Questions? Contact Sinda Nichols at 612-436-2080

“Campus-Community Engagement as a Strategy for Health”

The keynote speaker will be Melanie Peterson-Hickey of the Minnesota Department of Health, the acting director of the Center for Health Equity. Peterson-Hickey will speak on MDH’s Advancing Health Equity report for the state and recommendations for how campuses can help to move the needle on health equity in strategic ways. Three college faculty—Jackie Athmann, Kristi Kelly and Margaret Noirjean—will be presenting during breakout sessions.

How do we engage our resources, as campuses and communities, to move Minnesota toward more equitable health outcomes? Join colleagues for an interactive and informative day focused on three main themes:

  • Innovative efforts to promote health equity through campus-community collaboration
  • Ways to create high-impact, community-based education experiences for future health professionals
  • Strategies that contribute to development of a diverse healthcare workforce

Speakers and breakout facilitators currently confirmed include:

  • Trena Allbritton, PHN, NorthPoint Health & Wellness
  • Mary Clem, Director of Research and Sponsored Programs at St. Catherine University
  • Pam Cosby, MPA, formerly of Minnesota Urban Area Health Education Center
  • Dr. Penelope Moyers, Dean of the School of Health, St. Catherine University
  • Jonathan Watson, Minnesota Association of Community Health Centers Advancing Health Equity representative, Minnesota Department of Health
    Clinical faculty, Northwestern Health Sciences University
  • Margaret Noirjean, Medical Assistant faculty, Dakota County Technical College
  • Jackie Athmann and Kristi Kelly, Nursing faculty, Inver Hills Community College

This gathering is designed to be inclusive of community leaders invested in health equity, faculty and staff in college and university health education programs, and others interested in these issues, including students, national service members, and community members.

The day will feature a plenary with short presentations on each of the key themes of the day, interactive content to draw upon the wisdom of attendees and help them advance their work through connections with others, and afternoon breakouts offering deeper discussion of the morning’s themes.

For more information about the conference, visit the Minnesota Campus Compact event page.
Or contact:

Katie Halcrow
Director of Community-Based Learning
Inver Hills Community College
Dakota County Technical College
IHCC: 651-450-3241
DCTC: 651-423-8674

DCTC Awarded Nearly $900,000 in Federal Grant

Dakota County Technical College is part of $15 million grant awarded to MnSCU advanced manufacturing consortium


The Minnesota Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (MNAMP) has been selected to receive a $15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor for advanced manufacturing education throughout Minnesota. MNAMP is a statewide Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) consortium that includes DCTC, which received $887,057 to fund training in welding technology and mechatronics. The funding is part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) competitive grant program, which is co-administered by the Department of Labor and Department of Education.

Composed of 12 MnSCU colleges and a Center of Excellence, the consortium is led by South Central College, which applied for the grant on behalf of MNAMP and will be administering the grant’s execution. The MNAMP consortium was created to help close the skills gap in Minnesota by implementing a structure for advanced manufacturing education that emphasizes a standardized core curriculum, along with employer-driven apprenticeships and cooperative education opportunities.

The grant project focuses on the fields of mechatronics, machining and welding. Participants will be able to earn stackable, portable industry-recognized credentials (certificates, diplomas, degrees), while simultaneously working in the industry. Participants will also be able to enter academic programs at multiple points based on assessment results that match individual skills.

“We are proud and excited to be part of the MNAMP Consortium,” said Marlo Miller, manufacturing and technology coordinator for the Center for Professional & Workforce Development. “Education for employment is the DCTC mission.”

The grant targets unemployed, underemployed and dislocated workers; incumbent workers; and other adult learners and underrepresented groups. Traditional students are also eligible. The program is expected to benefit more than 3,000 students and hundreds of manufacturing companies throughout Minnesota. Many Minnesota manufacturers, industry and workforce organizations have stepped up to partner with these colleges.


South Central College
Consortium Leader

Award Amount: $5,569,615
Total Consortium Award Amount: $14,999,982
Consortium members: Ridgewater College ($1,451,782), Saint Paul College ($1,382,954), Minneapolis Community & Technical College ($1,028,749), Lake Superior College ($908,423), Dakota County Technical College ($887,057), Century College ($790,770), MN West Community and Technical College ($624,735), Northland Community and Technical College ($596,917), Riverland Community College ($519,120), MN State Community and Technical College ($424,351), Bemidji State University ($412,044), Normandale Community College ($403,465)

Industry focus: Advanced Manufacturing

South Central College is leading a consortium of 13 Minn. colleges to promote its Minnesota Advanced Manufacturing Partnership. MNAMP’s Learn, Work, Earn program targets TAA-eligible workers, veterans and other adult learners seeking training to secure or maintain employment. The project focuses on providing career pathways in advanced manufacturing in the fields of mechatronics, machining and welding. Participants will be able to earn stackable, portable industry-recognized credentials while simultaneously working in the industry. Participants will be able to enter academic programs at multiple points based on assessment results that match individual skills.

* ETA News Release: [09/29/2014] “Vice President Biden announces recipients of $450M of job-driven training grants”

For more information about the MNAMP grant at DCTC, contact:
  • Marlo Miller
    Manufacturing & Technology Coordinator
    Center for Professional & Workforce Development

Manufacturing Showcase
Coming to DCTC Oct. 9, 2014

New Course this Spring: Business Writing

People will judge you by the words you use

Business Writing

New Course this Spring at DCTC: Business Writing

by Brett Kolles

Many have heard the phrase that people will judge you by the words you use. This axiom does not need to be negative; in fact, those who write well and communicate with skill are respected in the workplace and often promoted to leadership positions.

DCTC is offering a new course this spring aptly named “Business Writing.” The hybrid course meets every other Thursday evening from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. on alternating weeks. Business Writing focuses on effective, persuasive communication within and between business organizations from the perspective of employees and of managers. Common business communication skills such as professional letter writing, memos, cover letters and resumes, e-mail, and proofreading strategies will be covered.

A very strong focus on proper grammar and persuasive writing development will be emphasized. Students learn to critically analyze communication strategies. Students will also gain experience making an oral presentation, work as part of a collaborative team, and recognize the ethical implications of business communication.

We communicate every day. Learning to communicate effectively and professionally is a skill set that will pay dividends in the workplace.

Minnesota Transfer Curriculum Goal
  • Understand/demonstrate the writing and speaking processes through invention, organization, drafting, revision, editing and presentation
  • Participate effectively in groups with emphasis on listening, critical and reflective thinking, and responding
  • Locate, evaluate, and synthesize in a responsible manner material from diverse sources and points of view
  • Select appropriate communication choices for specific audiences
  • Construct logical and coherent arguments
  • Use authority, point-of-view, and individual voice and style in their writing and speaking
Business Writing Course Description

Business WritingThis course focuses on effective, persuasive communication within and between business organizations, from the perspective of employees and of mangers. Students learn to critically analyze communication strategies, organizational culture and common business texts, such as memos, reports and case studies; they learn to select quality data from primary and secondary sources; and they write and edit letters, memos, reports and studies in situations that simulate the complexities of small companies and global corporations. Students will also gain experience making an oral presentation with accompanying presentation and software slides, work as part of a collaborative team, and recognize the ethical implications of business communication. This course is not a substitute for ENGL1150 Composition I.

About the author…

Brett Kolles, DCTC English Instructor

Brett Kolles is a full-time English instructor in the General Education department. He also serves as the DCTC Campus Lions Club faculty advisor. Brett has a master’s degree in English, a Master of Business Communication and a B.A. in journalism from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. (read more…)

For more information about the Business Writing course at DCTC, contact:
  • Brett Kolles
    English Instructor
    DCTC Campus Lions Club Advisor
    Dakota County Technical College
    Office 2-720E