As a veteran, first-generation student and female machinist, Krystal Dunn is comfortable with challenging situations and not shy about setting out to break down barriers. She continues to do so as one of the first students to complete the certificate portion of Anoka Tech’s Quality Inspection and Technician programs.
Krystal joined the Army National Guard when she was 17. She was injured during her service and still struggles today with the injury.
Since leaving the military, Krystal has explored several education and career options, consistently centered around engineering or programming.
Her first exposure to the machining field was in an entry-level position she worked in while attending school in Alexandria, Minn. “I first started as a general laborer, but I caught on as I watched one of the operators run the machine,” said Krystal. “My boss decided to pull me out of general labor and put me as a machine operator. Within three days I was running a CNC machine all by myself.”
Krystal caught on quickly and enjoyed what she was doing as an operator but felt limited due to her injury. The quality aspect of manufacturing intrigued her, so she started to explore her options in the hopes of becoming a well-educated, versatile employee.
“Quality is always a big aspect when manufacturing anything,” said Krystal. “So, I look at it as I'm improving my quality work in manufacturing but I’m also allowing myself to move up in a company and give myself a little ease to not be on my feet 10 hours a day.”
Between on-the-job training early in her career and the hands-on education she’s receiving at Anoka Tech, Krystal is one step closer to her goal.
“When a company asks where I see myself, I always tell them, I want them to be able to put me anywhere in the shop and not have to worry about me,” said Krystal.
After Krystal received her Quality Inspector certificate in spring 2021, she transitioned from part-time work to a full-time internship where she’s getting experience in engineering and quality for the summer. Krystal plans to return to Anoka Tech in the fall to complete her Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in Quality Technician.
“Ultimately I want to work in an engineering department at a company. I wouldn’t mind being the first female engineer they hire and try to break barriers. Show other girls what they can achieve and work along with the boys in this field.”