Thermal Technology Chief Technology Officer Luke Skywalker (his real name) captured the imagination of more than 90 students from several Santa Rosa-area high schools with high-tech equipment and exacting processes at the production facility near Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport.

This stop was part of a tour of three other companies and Santa Rosa Junior College during the second annual Sonoma County Manufacturing Day on Oct. 19. Also visited were Labcon North America and Workrite Ergonomics in Petaluma and Medtronic in Santa Rosa.

Skywalker described how Thermal Technology’s high temperature furnaces, operating at up to 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit, are used to compress metallic and ceramic powders in controlled environments (such as vacuum, inert gas, and hydrogen atmospheres) to manufacture a wide range of products, including life-saving coronary stents, artificial joints, aircraft turbine blades, orthodontia, high-intensity discharge (HID) lighting, analytical instrumentation as well as components for aerospace and military applications.

At a visit to Santa Rosa Junior College’s maker space, students became acquainted with a number of educational options — from certificate programs to career technical education and college-prep curricula.

At the 180 Studios maker space on Todd Road in Santa Rosa, students spoke with representatives from 10 companies and organizations and saw samples of what they do. The firms included E. & J. Gallo (with a mechanized grape harvester on display), Medtronic, Camelback, Buck Institute for Research on Aging, SRJC, 180 Studios, Keysight Technologies, Sonoma State University’s School of Science and Technology, Amy’s Kitchen and Viavi Solutions. Also demonstrated were advanced laser cutting, etching and 3D printing.

180 Studios is home to several dedicated work areas where people of all ages can come to make things at labs devoted to woodworking, machining, electronics and computers, as well as fabrication and prototyping.

Principal organizers of the manufacturing day were Sonoma County Economic Development Board, the Sonoma County Office of Education, Career Technical Education Foundation of Sonoma County and 180 Studios.

Sponsors included the board, foundation, education office, Pacific Gas & Electric, Thermal Technology, North Bay Leadership Council and The North Bay Society of Manufacturing Engineers. Amy’s, Endologix, Keysight, Medtronic, SRJC, Thermal Technology and Viavi Solutions were committee partners and exhibitors.