Recognizing a need for housing in the community it serves, Ranken established the Ranken Community Development Corporation (RCDC) in April 1994. The program combines the technical skills of its students and faculty with the need for affordable housing, enhancing North St. Louis City's neighborhoods.
Through the RCDC and their required curriculum, students receive hands-on experience in the construction and renovation of single-family homes. The non-profit organization has built more than 50 homes to date. For each house, students and faculty members from Architecture, Carpentry, Plumbing, Electrical and HVACR use their skills to build houses in the neighborhoods surrounding the College. Once the houses are completed, they are sold at affordable prices. Proceeds are then used to build more homes and involve future students in home building projects.
The program has evolved over the past 17 years and has had to grow and change along with advancements in construction and technology. Just as most business and industries are looking at ways to become more "green," RCDC continues to look for more environmentally-friendly building techniques.
The program has started participating in Energy Star home inspections by Applied Science Energy Ratings (ASERusa) in order to learn how to build more energy efficient homes.
"We started participating in these inspections for many reasons," said John Wood, vice president for student success. "One is that in the long run it saves our future home owners money to heat and cool their home. It is also a great learning tool for our students who will be able to go out into the work force with this knowledge and potentially teach their employer these new building techniques. Overall, it's just the right thing to do."
This past year, RCDC has continued to stay up-to-date on the latest energy efficient building techniques. The program has started using advanced framing techniques that involves two-foot framing centers, which minimizes material usage and waste. On one of the homes being built this year, RCDC used a product called the Superior Walls System, which are precast concrete walls made with steel rebar, making them stronger than traditional foundations. The walls, which come pre-insulated and include features like built-in accesses for wiring and small plumbing, stud facing for easy drywall installation and custom openings for windows and doors, are more energy efficient, sustainable and environmentally-friendly. RCDC has also started using the ZIP System roof sheathing and wall sheathing, which are structural panels with built-in protective overlays that eliminate the need for housewrap or felt forever. Siding and roof covering can be installed directly on top of the panels.
In recognition of their innovation and the use of cutting-edge technology, Ranken's RCDC program was recently awarded the 2012 Outstanding Technical Program Award from the American Technical Education Association (ATEA). The award will be presented at their National Conference on Technical Education held in Biloxi, Mississippi at the end of March.
ATEA promotes the advancement of postsecondary technical education and the intent of this award is to recognize an outstanding technical program at a postsecondary technical education institution anywhere in the U.S.
Congratulations to all of our students, staff and faculty who have made this award possible!