Allen graduated from North Dakota State University in May 1988 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering. He will graduate in Spring of 2015 with a Master of Science in Special Studies – Software Development in Enterprise Architecture. Currently he holds a teaching license in Career and Technical Teaching and teaches Computer Systems Technology and Multimedia Design Technology. He has been the Sole Proprietor of a PC tech support business since 1995. Prior to becoming a teacher he was an Electronics Technician, Project Engineer, Controls Engineer, and a Controls Engineering Manager. With 26 years in technology and 13 years in teaching, Allen brings his students a combined 39 years of experience in industry and instruction.
I enjoy working with computer technology and helping students to prepare themselves for computer careers. I spend my summers working with companies on computer projects so that my computer knowledge base stays fresh. Hobbies include hiking, cross country skiing, swimming, canoeing, sailing, and playing cards—all low tech activities!
Prior to Ridgewater I worked in the Twin Cities as a computer consultant. In 1993 I was one of the first Minnesotans to become certified on the new “Windows NT” operating system. This proved a lucky career move on my part, enabling me to spend the next 10 years helping companies design, install, and learn Microsoft based networks.
In 1991-1992 I earned a M.B.A in Management Information Systems from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. I was a teaching assistant while there, and although a good program, it is a lot more fun teaching at Ridgewater!
For a year before that I lived with my wife Karla in the cloud forested mountains of Central America. She taught in a school, while I did a lot of reading, writing, and hiking. A LOT of reading, because we had no access to computers. The books were really hard ones, though. It was during this time that I learned I was not going to become a writer. I also did some actual work, translating materials for a Rainforest Conservation group. OK I was somewhat of a bum. I wanted to try that lifestyle, though, because I had heard so many good things about retirement. Not all it’s cracked up to be.
Before Central America I spent seven years working for Hormel Foods in their computer department. I started there right out of college, arriving at the same time as the first Personal computer came into the company. This was a great company, and I really liked the people. Students looking to establish their careers should realize that the character of coworkers matters a great deal.
My entry to Hormel was paved by a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Systems from Saint Cloud State. I had intended to major in Computer Science, but I had a horrible experience with the first Computer Science course and dropped it. It was very poorly taught. The memory of that experience motivates me in my teaching of our Ridgewater CST Introduction to Computer Programming. Students who have never programmed should be “gently” introduced into this new way of thinking.
Before St. Cloud State, I worked as an electro mechanical technician for the Data Card company in Minnetonka. This would be the type of position our Ridgewater Automation Engineering students apply for. I enjoyed that job because I wasn’t stuck at a desk but always roving around the factory floor. I like working in factories as long as it is in a skilled position. It was during this job that I became interested in computers, while working on microprocessor controlled embossing equipment.
My qualifications to become a technician came from the Wisconsin School of Electronics/Herzing Institute in Madison, where I earned a diploma in Electronics Technology. I didn’t go to that school intending to devote my life to working with Technology. I had already spent two years in college as a History/Philosophy/Latin/Political Science major, with vague ambitions to become a famous writer, or philosopher king, or some such thing. I wasn’t exactly sure, however, and I realized it was going to take a long time to achieve such greatness. I had better acquire some skill with which to buy groceries, while I chipped away at the attainment of greatness-- I resolved to become a TV repairman!
Under this brilliant career plan, I could repair TVs during the day, while I worked on my novel during the evening. What an excellent career plan!
I think this illustrates an important principal for students. It is important to have a career plan, but just be prepared for the plan to evolve into something else as time goes on.