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Brian Whitmore of the architecture firm William + Paddon and student Peter Sushch look at architectural drawings and a model.
Photo: Sierra College
When Peter Sushch signed up for engineering support technology (EST) as a sophomore in high school, it put him on a path that would focus his education and career plans.
Taking the class whet his appetite for design and prompted him to enroll in a high school course on architecture, construction and engineering through a regional occupation program (ROP), which paved a way toward an internship at a local architecture company. Now Sushch plans to study architecture in college.
“I realized how much I enjoyed it as I got familiar with Autodesk 3D design software,” Sushch said. “In the engineering support technology class, I completed projects that I eventually used to demonstrate my skills in the interview for the internship.’’
Sierra College's Center for Applied Competitive Technologies (CACT) in California has been instrumental in supporting Rocklin High School’s EST program for several years, according to high school instructor Dan Frank, who taught Sushch. Just this year, the high school’s engineering lab was updated substantially through funding from the Sierra STEM Community Collaborative, which is managed by CACT, he said.
“The funding was used to purchase and install new computer numerical control milling machines that cut materials in three dimensions, as well as create a tool room modeled on industry standard practices,” Frank said.
Encouraging educators and business leaders to work together to inspire students, provide technical education and prepare them for employment is the goal of the Sierra STEM Community Collaborative, said Carol Pepper-Kittredge, director of CACT, which provides funding for projects through a grant from the California Community College Chancellor's Office. The collaborative updates equipment, provides professional development for instructors, coordinates teacher externships and encourages partnerships between schools and employers.
Businesses such as Williams + Paddon, where Sushch interned, notice the academic and skill levels of students who come through the program.
“It was clear to us after seeing Peter’s portfolio that these programs offer a robust design experience that fits seamlessly with the same computer programs and skills we use here at Williams + Paddon on a daily basis,” said Brian Whitmore, an associate principal at the architecture firm.
Sushch credits the ROP course for giving him the skills to secure his internship—soft skills as well as technical skills.
“We learned how to make an appropriate resume, how to put together a portfolio and what to wear to an interview,” Sushch said.
Testing career options
Steve Dolan, who teaches the ACE-ROP program at Granite Bay High School, said the program prepares students from several area high schools to go into architecture, the trades or construction management. Through his relationships with employers, Dolan places students in internships where they can gauge their interest in pursuing training to succeed in the building industry.
Such hands-on experiences are essential to help students, especially high school students exploring career options.
“I’ve been working with Williams + Paddon since 2000,” said Dolan. “The experience provided by Williams + Paddon lights a fire that motivates students to go into careers in architecture. I saw that Peter was ready to get serious and knew he had excellent design skills, so I recommended that he interview for an internship.”
“Our interest is primarily in ensuring that the future of our career remains intriguing,” explained Whitmore of Williams + Patton. “We believe that by offering students an opportunity to engage with what we do, we often make a positive impression that keeps that student on that career path and eventually makes a strong addition to our industry.”
For Sushch, the experience includes working in computer-aided drafting programs to make changes requested by the company’s quality assurance staff and using SketchUp, a 3D modeling program, to develop base models for project designs.
“Peter’s work ethic and strong skills have made him an integral part of our team,” Whitmore added.
Sushch plans to attend Cosumnes River College to complete a two-year architecture program and then transfer to the California Polytechnic State University or the California College of the Arts to complete his degree in architecture.
“The experience at Williams + Paddon has definitely strengthened my desire to pursue architecture as my career,” he said.
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