Retirement will not slow automotive instructor down

With nearly as many cars parked in and around his Conejo Valley home as years of service with the Pierce College Automotive Department, Tom Rosdahl isn’t putting down his wrench anytime soon.

Rosdahl’s immediate plans are to wait the requisite 180 days after retirement and then return in spring 2014 to teach an hourly class, he said.

Rosdahl, current Academic Senate president and instructor of automotive technology until June 30, said he enjoyed his time at Pierce as a student, returned to teach in 1984 and was hired on as faculty in spring 1985.

“The kids are energetic. Their minds are like sponges,” Rosdahl said. “To be able to provide a positive influence on these kids’ lives is a real good thing. It’s a fulfilling thing.”

Charlston Ong, a 2006 Pierce graduate and owner of part manufacturer A-Spec-Racing, said Rosdahl is not only a teacher but is also a car enthusiast and that his students want to do the things he’s done.

“I had numerous classes with Tom. I loved his stories,” Ong said. “His trailer tire blew and the trailer went on its side. So they up-righted it, unloaded the race car and drove with ear plugs on to the nearest auto parts store to buy parts.”

Rosdahl remembers the incident.

“I one-eightied the trailer in the middle of the I10 doing 65 mph,” Rosdahl said.

Rosdahl plans on getting behind the wheel again, he said.

“I’ve got a 1969 Camero that I’ve raced for years. It’s sort of together and sort of apart. I still have a few things to do to it,” he said. “Probably in the spring I’ll be out again.”

Mark Schatkun, adjunct instructor of industrial technology, has a storied racing past with Rosdahl, he said.

“Me and Tom Rosdahl ended up in the [1995] Super Chevy Show finals together,” he said. “He’s a big loss to the college because he’s president of the Academic Senate now and he’s a made a huge contribution to the automotive program. He’ll be missed by everyone.”