The students’ jaws dropped when they heard that an experienced sheet metal worker could make upward of $65 an hour. A dozen sophomores were crowded in the vestibule of Peterson Mechanical’s headquarters, on Eighth Street East, on an outing organized by Sonoma Valley High School’s engineering, technology and design pathway. Opportunities like this, to job shadow employees working in these fields at local businesses, are the cornerstone of the pathway program.
Thanks to grants from Sonoma County, and field experiences like this one, Sonoma Valley High School’s Linked Learning engineering pathway has hit its stride this year. The pathway elective is in its second year and it currently has 68 sophomores and juniors enrolled.
Peterson Mechanical was one of the first businesses to step forward to mentor and offer field experiences to Sonoma High students.
Founded in Sonoma by Ed Peterson in 1915, the company today is run by Les and Peggy Peterson, and employs more than 100 people, providing plumbing, heating, ventilating, air conditioning, design build and mechanical services for commercial work, as well as residential heating and air conditioning services. Peterson’s current projects include Sutter Hospital in Santa Rosa, Agilent, Sonoma State University, Santa Rosa Junior College and the Green Music Center.
Explained Vice Principal Andrew Ryan, who leads the pathway team at the high school, “The visit to Peterson is the finest example of work-based learning yet; Peterson front-loaded the experience with visits from four employees from the union trades through civil engineering grads. The trip provided a comprehensive experience for students to broaden their understanding of engineering and design as well as introduced them to some of the technology visible in this industry sector.”