Trade education and workforce development are two initiatives we value highly here at Dunn Lumber, so it should come as no surprise that we have close ties with Seattle Central College's Wood Technology Center (WTC). With roots dating back to the early 1900s, WTC's history intersects with ours at Dunn Lumber at various points (our very own Ed Dunn Jr. took some classes at Edison), and we're proud to be connected with such an exemplary educational institution. 

Throughout the episodes in this series, we'll be speaking with Dave Borgatti, a long-time faculty member at WTC, about the center's history, program offering, and various topics in woodworking education. Dave got his start in woodworking as a boat builder in Portland, Oregon, for Schooner Creek Boat Works, and ended up at WTC as an instructor in 1992. Since then, Dave has helped countless students—from boat builders to carpenters and cabinetmakers—learn the woodworking craft.

In today's episode, Dave sets the tone for the rest of the series by giving us a brief history of the center, an overview of its goals for trade workforce development, and a look at its program offerings. Watch our conversation above or read through the highlights below.

What is the Wood Technology Center?

WTC has a long history here in Seattle—it's had different names, locations, and affiliations, but trade education has always been the core of its mission.

WTC's story begins in 1936 when Seattle Public Schools opened Edison Technical School, a boat building and repair program. Three years later, the school added residential carpentry to its program offering, and in 1946 cabinetry and millwork were added. At the time, the school wasn't focused exclusively on wood as a medium; welding, printing, and machining were also included in the curriculum. While those programs aren't part of WTC today, the woodworking programs have been going strong since the beginning.

Since then, the school has seen several changes. Programs relocated to Lake Union and Rainier Elementary School; after World War II, the school was re-established as Gompers, named after the founder of the American Federation of Labor. In 1990, it was renamed the Wood Construction Center, and after moving into a new facility in 2012, it became what we know today as the Wood Technology Center.

What woodworking programs does the Wood Technology Center offer?

WTC has three primary program offerings: cabinetmaking and architectural woodworking, boat building and repair, and residential carpentry. In 2018 the school also added a pre-apprenticeship construction training program previously offered under the Seattle Vocational Institute. 

Students who enroll in one of WTC's programs do so to learn the highest level of craftsmanship and precision. The program curriculum is thorough: Boatbuilding and repair students learn composites, marine electrical systems, pneumatics, and hydraulics, while residential carpentry covers everything from foundations to interior and exterior finishes and everything in between. 

What kind of degree do Wood Technology Center graduates receive?

Beyond the wealth of skills, program graduates earn an associate of applied sciences degree after completing a five-quarter program. Each program curriculum begins with a full quarter learning the fundamentals of woodworking: basic tools and techniques and safety best practices. 

Stay tuned for the next installment in our Wood Technology Center series where we’ll learn the history of lumber sizing and grading. Until then, be sure to read about how the Wood Technology Center is promoting a revival of trade careers and our Death of Shop Class series.