Dunwoody Expands to Accommodate a Fuller Undergrad Campus Life

Rendering of “Learning commons” in Dunwoody’s 2018 expansion.

You may not be aware Dunwoody College of Technology approved a school of engineering in 2015, or that in 2016 it launched a bachelor of science degree program in mechanical engineering, followed by a bachelor of science in software engineering in 2017 and now, in 2018, plans for a bachelor of science in electrical engineering. Add to all of this the desire to bring in more students—more women, more diversity, more people from outstate Minnesota like the Iron Range and even other states—and what you have, says college president Rich Wagner, is a need for growth.

Historically a commuter school, Dunwoody has addressed the growing need for student housing by building partnerships with apartment complexes built near the University of Minnesota. But to Wagner it was more than that. “What about student life?” he says. “Part of the conversation is the look, the feel, the accessibility of the campus. We needed library space. We needed common spaces. We had to think about a campus master plan. How could we use construction and remodeling to meet these needs?”

The answers are currently being built, as part of a $10 million campus renovation project. The first domino to fall, says Wagner, was a “very underutilized gym.” In its place will be a campus welcome center; the floor above will house classrooms and a learning commons (a library). “One problem is we can’t shut down,” says Wagner. “We have to manage this construction so the campus is still functional.” The completion date is September of 2018.

In addition to many students accruing “stackable credentials” progressing from certificate to associate to bachelor’s degrees, Dunwoody now has 50 students in two stand-alone bachelor of science in engineering programs. In fall of 2018 that number will double, and the number of bachelor of science in engineering programs will rise to three. “The goal is 300–400 students,” says Wagner. “Industry is excited about it.” With Dunwoody’s emphasis on hands-on, project-based, experiential learning, “We are creating a more practical approach to an engineering degree,” he says.