General Motors Invests in DCTC

GM ASEP receives donated 2013 Chevrolet Silverado

GM ASEP donated 2013 Chevrolet Silverado

General Motors, one of the world’s largest automotive manufacturers, donated a vehicle to Dakota County Technical College for use in the GM Automotive Service Educational Program, or GM ASEP. The 2013 Chevrolet Silverado will be used to train aspiring technicians enrolled in the program.

“We are proud to support training programs that prepare the next generation of automotive technicians,” said Rick Jackson, manager for GM ASEP. “Our commitment to our customers goes well beyond building a quality product. Our dedication to excellence starts at the training level by partnering with schools in communities around the globe to share our collective passion for the automotive industry and educate, inspire and motivate the technicians of tomorrow.”

“DCTC plays an important role in helping the auto industry fill a critical need: developing and retaining skilled automotive technicians,” said Mark Hickman, a GM ASEP instructor at the college. “This generous donation from GM enables us to deliver the highest quality education to our students.”

“Automotive technicians are in high demand in today’s marketplace,” said Diana Sancya, manager for GM Service Technical College. “Through the GM donation program, we have a significant opportunity to ensure that GM dealers can employ the best trained technicians possible.”

“The availability of qualified, trained automotive technicians is and will continue to be a critical area of importance for GM,” said Chris Wallace, technical training integration manager at GM. “Vehicle donations to support technician training programs are pivotal to address the growing need for technicians at our dealerships across the country.”



Since 1979, GM’s continued commitment to identify and support the GM ASEP colleges and universities has produced more than 16,000 service technicians. GM ASEP incorporates advanced automotive technical training with a strong academic foundation of math, reading, and electronics, and both analytical and technical skills. Students can earn an associate of applied science (A.A.S.) degree while working and learning on the job, resulting in a solid education combined with invaluable work experience.

For more information about GM ASEP at DCTC, contact:

SkillsUSA Nationals Underway

Ten DCTC students competing in Kansas City, Mo.

DCTC at SkillsUSA Nationals

The 50th Annual SkillsUSA National Championships have started in Kansas City, Mo. Ten students are representing Dakota County Technical College in nine competitions.

DCTC students competing at SkillsUSA Nationals

DCTC Students competing at SkillsUSA Nationals

50th Annual SkillsUSA National Championships

For more information about DCTC students at the SkillsUSA Nationals, contact:
  • Anna Voight
    Assistant Director of Student Life

Mark Obarski Hired as Women’s Soccer Coach

Former Eagan High School girls soccer coach to lead Blue Knights

Mark Obarski

Dakota County Technical College has hired Mark Obarski, former head coach of girls soccer at Eagan High School in Eagan, Minn., as head coach of the Blue Knights women’s soccer team. Obarski will succeed Cam Stoltz as only the second coach in the program’s history. Stoltz started the program in 2003, serving as head coach for 11 seasons. He will continue to lead the men’s soccer program while serving as DCTC athletic coordinator.

Obarski brings ample soccer success and experience to DCTC, having been with the Eagan High girls soccer program for 19 years, the last 14 as head coach. Named state coach of the year twice and section coach of the year four times by the Minnesota State High School Soccer Coaches Association, Obarski served as MSHSSCA president for two years and has been involved with the MSHSSCA Board for several years. As head coach at Eagan, he compiled a record of 192–67–25.

“Cam has developed an outstanding program,” Obarski said. “It’s an honor to step in and continue that tradition. Coaching at DCTC is a tremendous opportunity that will be both a lot of hard work and a lot of fun.”

With extensive experience both as a coach and director of coaching at the Valley United and Eagan soccer clubs, Obarski has worked with a variety of age groups in youth soccer. He has a United Stated Soccer Federation “C” license.

“I can’t think of a better way to transition this program to a higher level,” Cam Stoltz said. “Mark has the perfect blend of expertise, leadership and knowledge of the recruiting market, especially in the soccer-rich south metro area. He is also well versed in soccer success. Mark is an educator first with coaching soccer a close second.”

A long-time resident of Apple Valley, Minn., Obarski grew up playing soccer at Apple Valley High School as well as with the Valley United Soccer Club. He played collegiate soccer for Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Ariz. This fall, he will be entering his 20th year as a teacher at Eagan High School. Obarski and his wife, Barb, have five children; all played soccer growing up in Apple Valley. Their daughter, Kelly, played soccer for the Blue Knights during the 2010–11 season.

Mark Obarski will begin his head coaching duties at DCTC July 1, 2014. He will be taking over a program that former coach, Cam Stoltz, provided with a sound foundation. In 11 seasons, the Blue Knights put together a 107–95–12 overall record that includes an NJCAA Region 13 championship (2003), two NJCAA Region 11 runner-up finishes (2009 and 2010), three NJCAA All-Americans and five NJCAA Academic All-Americans. Stoltz was twice recognized as NJCAA Region Coach of the Year, once for Region 13 in 2003 and once for Region 11 in 2009.

Obarski is excited about the future of Blue Knights soccer. “I’m looking forward to the challenges of recruiting and getting used to coaching at the collegiate level,” he said. “Our goal is to establish a nationally recognized women’s soccer program.”

To learn more about soccer at DCTC, visit GoBlueKnights.com. You can also read “Eleven Stars for 11 Years” in Real Magazine for a historic view of the women’s soccer program.
For more information about Blue Knights athletics, contact:
  • Cam Stoltz
    Athletic Coordinator
    Men’s Soccer Head Coach

Softball Player Makes DCTC History

Amanda Orrell named Blue Knights first softball All-American


Sophomore Amanda Orrell, an outfielder on the Blue Knights fastpitch softball team at Dakota County Technical College, was named a 2014 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II Second Team All-American by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA). Orrell is a 2012 graduate of Pioneer Valley High School in Santa Maria, Calif., and led the Blue Knights with a .531 batting average and .609 on-base average.

Head Coach Tom Cross (left) and Amanda Orrell (center) during 2013-2014 season.

Head Coach Tom Cross (left) and Amanda Orrell (center) during 2013-2014 season.

Blue Knights Fastpitch Softball Head Coach Tom Cross reported that Orrell is the first All-American in the history of the fastpitch softball program at DCTC and only the eighth All-American to come out of the college’s six athletics programs.

“Being named to the All-American Second Team by the NFCA is a very prestigious honor,” said Cross. “Amanda has been a steadfast member of our softball program’s rise at DCTC and in the region. There are about two thousand players at the NJCAA Division II two-year college level—and we had one of the best.”

Cross explained that Orrell started last season driving the ball and hitting with power. “In my opinion, Amanda was the best leadoff hitter in the country,” he said. “She raised havoc on the bases from the very beginning.”

amanda-orrellThe Blue Knights fastpitch softball team just completed their second season at DII. They won the regional championship in 2013 and finished as runner-up in May 2014. Read more about the team’s success in the Real Magazine article Softball Posts 2nd Consecutive 21-Win Season.

In fall 2014, Amanda Orrell is transferring to Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn., and will play softball for the Pipers.

For more information about Blue Knights fastpitch softball at Dakota County Technical College, contact:
  • Tom Cross
    Fastpitch Softball Head Coach
DCTC Blue Knights Fastpitch Softball Team 2013-2014

DCTC Blue Knights Fastpitch Softball Team 2013-2014

Do You Robot?

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