DCTC Awarded $300,000 MJSP Grant

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:



DCTC Hosts Camera Club Event

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
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

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

Bradley Kolle: The Power of Hard Work

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:

Guitarist Eric Kratochvil Picks a College Career

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:

DCTC Men’s Baseball Wins Regional Tourney

DCTC baseball defeats Williston State 10–5 in final; drops two games to Southeast CC in Districts

DCTC Blue Knights Baseball 2014

DCTC Blue Knights Baseball 2014

The Dakota County Technical College baseball team (21–14) defeated the Williston State College Tetons (21–19) 10–5 Sunday, May 11, 2014, to win the NJCAA Region 13 Tournament at Afeldt Stadium on the Williston campus in Williston, N.D. To reach the final and their second consecutive Region 13 championship, the Blue Knights rolled over the Bismarck State College Mystics 12–4 on Friday, May 9, and then slammed the Tetons by the same score on Saturday, May 10.

In the first game against the Mystics, Chase Lonetti, sophomore, CF, of Woodbury, Minn., went three for five at the plate, singling in the fifth, seventh and eighth innings, and scored two runs. Sophomore Tyler Smith (3–0) of Brooklyn Park, Minn., got the win, throwing seven strikeouts while allowing one earned run on four hits and four walks over seven and two thirds innings.

Freshman Victor Marin, C, of Miami, Fla., went four for five and scored three runs, doubling in the sixth inning and singling in the second, fourth and ninth innings in the second game against the Tetons. Sophomore Joel Klinkhammer (4–1) of Lakeville, Minn., got the win, striking out 13 while allowing four runs on nine hits over six innings.

The Blue Knights put together 14 hits in the final, going ahead 10–1 by the seventh inning. Sophomore Chris Gaynor, 2B, of Longwood, Fla., got three hits at five at bats with 1 RBI. Chase Lonetti went two for three, including a home run, scoring twice and getting three RBIs. Sophomore Josh Pierce (5–2) of Minneapolis, Minn., got the win, striking out five while allowing one run on four hits. Sophomore Roy Hotvedt of Perth, Australia, got the save.

Coach Trent Seaman reported that DCTC starting pitchers, Tyler Smith, Joel Klinkhammer and Josh Pierce, pitched full games. “Because our starting pitching was so good, we were in great position even if we lost a game with so many fresh bodies still left to come in and pitch,” Seaman said. “I can’t say enough about the job they did. They really competed; they pounded the strike zone, and kept their pitch counts down, things we have been preaching all year.”

Seaman added that the Knights received offensive performances from everyone in the lineup, scoring 34 runs in three games. “I don’t want to point any individual out, because everyone had a great weekend at the plate,” he said. “We don’t ever talk about scoring runs, but really preach putting together quality at bats. If we put quality at bats together, the runs will come, and, boy, did they come in bunches this weekend. There was no question our players stayed focused and committed.”

DCTC advanced to the NJCAA North Plains District Championship May 17–18, 2014, hosted by Region 11 champion, Southeastern Community College in West Burlington, Iowa. Joining the Blue Knights and Black Hawks in the Districts were the Southeast Community College Storm from Beatrice, Neb.

DCTC defeated Southeastern 7–3 in the first game on Saturday, but lost to Southeast 8–5 in the second game. On Sunday, DCTC lost to Southeast 4–3. Southeastern beat Southeast 9–4 in the final game to move on to the 2014 NJCAA DII Baseball World Series at David Allen Memorial Ballpark in Enid, Okla., May 24–31.

For more information about Blue Knights baseball at Dakota County Technical College, contact: