Rosedale Technical College will celebrate 70 years Sept. 28 at its Blue Jean Ball, honoring its reputation as the center of training for the skilled trades in Western Pennsylvania.
Food and live music will be a part of the festivities. Dressy jeans or other denim attire is welcome at this relaxed event.
Founded as a for-profit institution in 1949 near Verona, it originally had a goal of training returning veterans in the trade of automotive mechanics. There was only one educational program at Rosedale until 2001 when the diesel technology and electrical technology programs were added. Since then, programs in HVAC technology, truck driving and industrial technician programs were launched, and in 2015, welding, applied business management and collision repair technology were added.
In 1969, the center was acquired by the nonprofit Electronics Institute and in 2006, moved to its current location in Kennedy Township off Interstate 79 at Route 60. It became a free-standing independent nonprofit college in 2014.
Dennis Wilke of South Fayette Township has been the president since 2006. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics and philosophy from Carnegie Mellon University and had a 14-year career with the May Company’s corporate divisions in Pittsburgh and Houston before returning to Pittsburgh, joining Rosedale in 2005 as its vice president.
“The biggest change since its founding 70 years ago, in my opinion, has been our conversion to a 501c3 nonprofit educational institution,” said Wilke. “The model of a small private nonprofit technical college allows Rosedale to have both the nimble flexibility of a private entity while the nonprofit nature allows us to keep our focus fully on the best interests of our students.”
One of the school’s newest initiatives is looking into how many employers are contributing to the cost of education. Dozens of Rosedale’s employer partners have tuition reimbursement or student loan repayment, and some even participate in bonus programs that help support the students and graduates.
Students have been providing charitable organizations like Kamp Konokwee, the TC House for adults with Down Syndrome in Imperial and various local churches with free labor and repair services.
In March, Rosedale sponsored its third annual “Women in the Trades Day” that drew more than 200 high-school-aged girls who listened to female leaders in trade industries and saw live demonstrations by current female Rosedale students.
Last school year, the school’s female student population was up to 6.2%, an increase from just five years ago when it was at 3.9%. Diesel Technology is currently the program with the largest enrollment, spurred on by job opportunities in the energy industry. Automotive is next largest.
“Every program we train for at Rosedale is centered around electricity,” stated Wilke. “To excel in the skilled trades today, technicians need to understand electrical theory and use critical thinking skills to diagnose and troubleshoot issues with electronically controlled equipment. The demand for talent in the skilled trades has surged in recent years, and we need more students to fill the workforce needs.”
Rosedale’s biannual Career Fair will be held Oct. 3 when more than 100 employers will come to recruit students for employment.
The college’s current strategic vision, entitled “The Five Star Focus: Elevating the Trades,” includes adding at least two programs within the next five years, expanding its footprint by at least 30,000 square feet, and adding several new collaborations with employers, other educational institutions and community development organizations.
Rosedale expects to implement an autonomous vehicle training curriculum, integrate classrooms and labs into one dynamic space and create innovative ways to have employers participate in the cost of education.
An innovative program called “Soft Skills Transcript” has been embraced by employers as it reinforces and trains students’ soft skills with integration into each course.
“Graduation and job placement rates are soaring as we have raised the expectations both from our students and from ourselves,” Wilke added.
Community outreach will continue to be a focus. Rosedale’s annual Toys From Techs toy drive, benefiting Beverly’s Birthdays charity, has generated thousands of dollars’ worth of toys for children in need. In addition, Rosedale donates tools and equipment to multiple career and technical high schools, and hosts several events for local youth groups.
For tickets to the Blue Jean Ball or for more information on any of Rosedale Technical College’s programs, visit www.rosedaletech.org or call 800-521-6262.