Student Spotlight: Danielle Tinney

Automotive Technician student interning at Superior Service Center

After graduating from Osceola High School in 2017, Danielle Tinney, 21, had her heart set on going to college in Arizona. Danielle was less than enthusiastic when her father, the owner of Scott’s Tire Service in Osceola, Wisconsin, suggested she take a look at the transportation programs at Dakota County Technical College (DCTC).

“I was dreading the experience on the drive over to the DCTC campus with my dad,” she recalled. “I was happily surprised. The automotive tech instructors were great and I liked the feel of the college, especially the automotive labs. After the visit, I really wanted to go to DCTC.”

Today, Danielle is a sophomore at DCTC on track to graduate in May 2019 with her Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree from the Automotive Technician program. She also interns as a general technician at Superior Service Center in Eagan, Minnesota.

“My primary duties at Superior Service Center are diagnosing vehicles with electrical issues and performance problems,” she said. “I’m looking forward to going deeper into electrical and diagnostic work on cars and trucks. I want to continue my career in the automotive industry and help others by using the knowledge I obtain.”

Master Technician Ken Scheller is the shop supervisor at Superior Service Center. He also serves as Danielle’s mentor. “Danielle came to us as a raw mechanic candidate,” Ken said, “but I saw right away she learned fast and could grasp difficult concepts quickly. With a little bit of coaching, she figures things out. Danielle likes the challenge of diagnostic work a lot of fresh mechanics will avoid. She never shies away from any job.”

Ken added that Danielle applies what she learns in her DCTC Automotive Technician labs on the job at Superior Service Center. “She understands electrical systems and she’s very good at wiring. In fact, she equally good at soldering as I am.”

“The techs we need today must have math and science minds. Danielle has both and she knows how to problem-solve. She is the future of the modern tech.”
Ken Scheller, Master Technician
Superior Service Center, Eagan

Industry perspective…

Dan Sjolseth is the owner and president of Superior Service Center, a one-stop automotive repair and collision shop with locations in Eagan and Apple Valley, Minnesota. Dan serves on the DCTC Foundation Board of Directors. He is an avid proponent of technical education.

With more than 44 years of business experience in the automotive world, Dan is passionate about sharing his industry knowledge with parents and teachers of students in high school and middle school. Dan’s goal is encouraging young people to pursue two-year degrees in the automotive field via the hands-on, industry-relevant resources provided by technical colleges. He reported that finding qualified, resourceful and diligent technicians is crucial to his business because change in the automotive industry is happening faster than most people can imagine.

“What I’m looking for, what most people are looking for in techs are students who are willing to work hard in school and get the two-year degree behind them,” Dan said. “I think it’s extremely important for kids in tech school to spend the time getting a job in the field. Someone like Danielle has seen a lot of growth because she’s been working with a mentor at Superior Service Center. She can hone her skills much faster working at a shop at the same time she’s going to school.”

Dan pointed out that students need a very strong work ethic to attend classes for several hours and then continue their workday gaining invaluable, on-the-job experience.

“Danielle is someone who certainly displays that work ethic,” he said. “She knows hard work is going to get her someplace. Go to school, get your education and apply yourself, and you can make an awful lot of money in this field.”

Dan Sjolseth and Danielle Tinne

Dan Sjolseth and Danielle Tinney

Automotive Service Technicians & Mechanics

Diagnose problems and repair cars and light trucks.



Median: $19.74/hour
High: $24.81/hour

Seven-county Twin Cities metro

Median: $20.66/hour
High: $25.15/hour


This career is currently in very high demand. There will be a need for about 13,329 new Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics to meet market demand between 2016–2026. This includes the demand due to replacement (workers leaving the occupation or retiring) as well as growth.

Minnesota State CAREERwise Education

More about Danielle…

Danielle’s dad, Scott, owns and operates Scott’s Tire Service in her hometown of Osceola. Her brother, Dustin, 22, graduated from the Diesel Truck Technician program at Chippewa Valley Technical College in May 2017 .

“My brother does more of the heavy-line work at my dad’s shop,” Danielle said. “For example, engine work or replacement, transmission diagnostics and replacement. My dad takes in semis, trucks, cars, trailers, campers and RVs.”

Danielle’s mom, Gail, has worked for Andersen Windows for 33 years. Gail’s duties are related to the company’s response team and customer experience; her responsibilities include expediting requests, coordinating routing and rescheduling orders.

In September 2015, Danielle was competing against seven other contestants when she was crowned 2015–2016 Miss Osceola. Her experience as hometown royalty inspired her to develop even deeper connections with her community. Her bond with Osceola was also strengthened when she gained valuable technician skills working at Custom Fire, a local, family-owned company that manufactures custom-built fire trucks for fire departments throughout the U.S.

Photo courtesy of Custom Fire

Photo: Custom Fire

“I worked in the Custom Fire office when I was in high school,” Danielle said, “and then last summer they booted me into the shop to work on the electrical team. We were escorted to our senior prom by a custom-built fire truck.”

In her free time, Danielle enjoys snow skiing, kayaking, running, fishing and volunteering. She also competes in tractor and truck pulls. She commutes to DCTC from Hudson, Wisconsin.

“Danielle has been a great student to have in the program. She is always respectful, professional, works well in a team, and works hard in class to get good grades. I’m glad she chose our program out of the numerous options out there. She was a pleasure to get to know personally and see grow professionally.”
Matt Boudinot, Automotive Technician Faculty
Dakota County Technical College

Danielle Tinney gallery

“Currently enrolled in her fourth semester and taking my Powertrain classes, Danielle has been a reliable student her entire career at DCTC. She puts forth so much effort in all her work—she is always trying to improve her understanding of class content. Danielle is a solid example of the many great students enrolled in our Automotive Technician program.”
Crist Siebenaler, Automotive Technician Faculty
Dakota County Technical College

Danielle Tinney Q & A

Danielle Tinney

Danielle Tinney

Why did you choose automotive technology as your career field?
I chose the Automotive Technician program because I have always been fascinated with driving different machinery and vehicles. When I was growing up, I would spend my free time with my dad in his independent repair shop that is located in my hometown of Osceloa.

How has your education at DCTC helped you enter the field?
My college career at DCTC has helped me acquire the knowledge I desired to accomplish my goal of being a technician.

What advice would you give students considering automotive technician as a career path?
Becoming an automotive technician is rewarding. We are viewed as doctors for cars—and many of us rely on vehicles everyday for various reasons of transportation. This gives our career a purpose that will not deteriorate in today’s society. You need to balance taking care of your body with learning how to be safe while working.

Three words that describe you as a college student:

What is the most challenging aspect of the Automotive Technician program?
Retaining all of the information that we discuss is a challenge at times. If you take a look at cars from 10 years ago, they are relatively simple concepts. Now think about cars that we drive today and imagine the technology that will come standard on the cars 10 years from now. We have a short span of time before drastic changes come to our industry.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job at Superior Service Center?
The most rewarding aspect of my job at Superior Service Center is being able to have a hands-on experience with the cars that come through the door. I am able to do complex jobs, including solving electrical issues. Tackling different tasks and learning something new everyday brings me satisfaction and the desire to learn more. I also have more flexibility in the work I do thanks Ken Scheller and the mentoring setting I have in the shop.

What is one thing every automotive technician should know?
Balance. Finding the balance for your physical health is critical. Visiting the chiropractor and finding a way to decompress after a day of work is a great way to maintain your abilities and movement for tasks that need to be accomplished in a day. There are not many machines that can perform all the tasks and heavy lifting that occur in this field.

What person has influenced you the most in life?
My community in my hometown has influenced me the most. I’ve met so many inspirational people through school, work and my friends. My family, however, are the ones that support me and challenge me to aspire to achieve more.

Danielle Tinney 21 Answers

  1. Favorite season: Fall
  2. Favorite natural feature (e.g., waterfalls, oceans, mountains, etc.): Pacific Ocean
  3. Favorite sport or physical activity: Running and skiing
  4. Your national bird if you could have one: Mourning dove
  5. Place you would most like to visit: Dubai
  6. Favorite holiday: 4th of July
  7. Your national mammal if you could have one: Beagle
  8. Favorite actor or actress: Jennifer Aniston
  9. Favorite band or performing artist: Kenny Chesney
  10. Your personal motto if you had to have one:Life is what you make it.”
  11. Coolest thing in the world: Wildlife
  12. Scariest thing in the world: Snakes, natural disasters
  13. Favorite all-time TV show: Planet Earth
  14. Favorite all-time movie: Disney movies…if pressed: Beauty and the Beast or Pocahontas
  15. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: Travel the world
  16. Most valuable material possession: Necklace from my grandma or photos
  17. First thing you would do if you won the $1.5 billion Powerball: Buy my own house or build it; buy an island in the Caribbean Sea
  18. Dream occupation: Be a part of a successful team and business.
  19. Person you would most like to meet: Johnny Cash
  20. Skill you would most like to learn and master: Engine tuning and programming
  21. Humankind’s greatest challenge: Love and respect for one another.
Learn more about the Automotive Technician program at DCTC by contacting:

Jeffrey Copeland
Automotive Technology Faculty

Scott Anderson
Automotive Technician Faculty

Matt Boudinot
Automotive Technician Faculty

Crist Siebenaler
AUTM Faculty

Learn more about the DCTC Foundation and DCTC Foundation Board of Directors by contacting:

Michelle Boe, JD
Executive Director of Foundation

Amy Eppen
Foundation Development Director