Karl Seelbach (Department Head)

Karl Seelbach began teaching at Laney in 2009 and started full time in 2013. He was lead instructor on Laney Carpentry’s off campus project of the student built “Passive House”-an ultra energy efficient home. His expertise is home performance and energy efficiency: receiving certifications from the Building Performance Institute as a Building Analyst and Envelope Professional and from the Passive House Academy (Dublin, Ireland) as a Certified Passive House Trades-person and Certified Passive House Consultant. He was also part of the instruction team in the Laney Green Jobs Program. Karl developed a new class, “High Performance Building” and reworked all of the department’s Student Learning Outcomes. He has served on the Peralta District Facilities Committee and is currently serving on the Laney College Curriculum Committee. He has worked with the Oakland Unified School District while serving on a career pathways committee. He is a Board Member for Skyline’s Green Academy and has helped develop the Carpentry Program at Fremont HS.

Karl grew up on a dairy farm in upstate New York, received a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Renselaer Polytechnic Institute and has also resided in Germany and Switzerland -where he first started to build. Upon returning to the States, he has worked 24 years as a carpenter, field supervisor and general contractor specializing in design/build remodels throughout the SF Bay Areas. He has also developed a work training program in property management for non-profit homeless agency. He is an avid organic gardener who also enjoys hiking, traveling and swimming.

Matthew Wolpe

Matt has a design/build background and is particularly interested in applying design, construction and education towards social responsibility. After completing undergraduate work at The Evergreen State College, Matt went on to work with a variety of nonprofits and organizations that combine hand craft with a social mission, including a fellowship with Designcorps in Mississippi building relief structures after hurricane Katrina and an apprenticeship at Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Vermont. Matt moved out to the bay area to work as a studio manager at The Crucible in Oakland, where he still teaches classes. Matt also co-authored the book ‘Reinventing the Chicken Coop.’ Currently, in addition to teaching at Laney, Matt is a Design Specialist at UC Berkeley’s Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation and is the founder of PRACTICE Community Design/Build in Oakland CA.


Evie Ortiz

Evie is a builder and maker from Oakland, California. After graduating from Smith College she worked as a primary school educator for several years before pursuing her passion for building and craftsmanship. She studied carpentry and furniture making at Laney College, which led her to working as a builder for a commercial modular shipping container company, Urban Bloc. She currently works as a carpenter for Western Slope, a residential general contracting company that designs and builds houses and ADU units in the Oakland / Berkeley Bay Area. In her spare time, she builds furniture and small-scale projects for local businesses. She is currently organizing a build collective where builders, especially underrepresented builders, can network and collaborate on various build projects in the Oakland area. When not building with wood or metal, you can find Evie making shoes!


Peter Belanger

Education:        1978, Bachelors degree, University of Michigan

Work History:

1978-1990:      Maintenance and Construction Supervisor/Project Designer for Numenor Corporation, San Francisco.  In charge of construction, design and budgeting.  Responsible for over 40 individuals remodeling and maintaining over 1000 units of residential property and commercial real estate in more than 100 buildings throughout San Francisco, with emphasis in the Mission and the Western Addition.  Projects included a 33 unit (2061 Mission) and a 40 unit (250 Taylor) gut-rehab apartment buildings.  I dealt extensively with code compliance issues through the Bureau of Building Inspection (DAHI). I was the overall lead person in day-to-day management of staff, crews and subcontractors.

1990-1994:      Belanger Construction and Home Repair.  Self employed contractor in high-end remodeling.

1994-present:    Alameda County Healthy Homes Department.  Lead Project Designer, Project Monitor and Housing Rehabilitation Specialist.  Managing projects dealing in housing deficiencies and lead-hazard remediation and training individuals in lead-in-construction and healthy housing disciplines.

2005-present:    Laney College (the Peralta Colleges).  Plumbing instructor for Laney’s Construction Department, class 232, Residential Plumbing.  2014-2016 as well as the above, I taught class 233, Residential Electrical in training low income individuals, home-owners and trade-persons in plumbing and electrical codes, tools and techniques as they relate to residential construction both new and remodel.

John Shurtz

Present Position:                                                        Instructor     Peralta Community College District  

Universities, colleges, or technical schools I have attended, degrees obtained, and completion dates:

Humboldt State University               1974    Spanish Bachelor of Arts

San Diego State University                       1968-1971 Undergrad classes  

Previous position held:

President   Green Builders of Marin Residential and Commercial Construction     1980-2009

Work experience:

29 years as a general contractor.  

I have built and remodeled numerous residences, mostly in Marin and Sonoma Counties.

Also light commercial construction, including 10 Head Start preschools, doctors’ offices, retail and other commercial projects.

Books and articles published:                                                                                                         Green Building Guidelines, Stop Waste.Org

Multiple articles on Sustainability and Green Building for the Pacific Sun newspaper in Marin, Sunset Magazine, as well as Home Energy Magazine.

College-level or adult courses I have taught:

Green Building Certificate Program  @  Sonoma State University Extended Education

The Sustainable Built Environment @  Laney College, Cypress Mandela Training Center,                                                                          Oakland Green Jobs Corps., Merritt College & College of Marin

Building Performance, Forms & Foundations,  and Construction Safety @ Laney College

OSHA outreach trainer.  I teach and certify OSHA 10 and OSHA 30 courses.

Robert Bell

Cynthia Correia

Cynthia Correia graduated from San Diego State University with a B.A. in Art. She is an accomplished furniture and lighting designer.  Cynthia Correia is currently a professor of Carpentry and Construction Management at Laney College in Oakland California. She has been the Department Chair for the Carpentry department for the last 28 years.  Cynthia has training in Passive house principals, RRP, BPI, Weatherization, Green Building and Sustainability. Currently she is developing curriculum and certificates in Advanced Manufacturing and Digital Fabrication for the construction industry. She was instrumental in the creation of a FabLab at Laney College.  She has taught building of Tiny Homes and was a faculty mentor for the SMUD (Sacramento Municipal Utility District) Net zero Tiny Home Competition between Colleges and Universities in the State of California. Laney College won awards for Best Architecture and Design/Construction for their 200 square foot entry “The Wedge” in October of 2016. The Carpentry Department currently is working on a grant from the City of Oakland to design and produce 2 tiny house prototypes to house the homeless.

Cynthia has been building affordable housing with the Carpentry Department in a partnership with the City of Oakland and the Oakland Rotary for the last 28 years and completed the building of the first Passive house in Oakland, Ca. in 2016.   She enjoys roaming the Makers faire and is always searching for creative pathways to contextualize education using creativity, design and building innovation.