Perennial Collaboration for Learning, Economic Development and Prosperity

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:

Patch Management Safeguards DCTC Network

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:

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: