Seeking Interest for GTA Board of Directors

The Gorge Tech Alliance is collecting names of Full Members / Sponsors interested in serving on the organization’s Board of Directors. The Board of Directors fills an important role in guiding and managing the organization. The eleven-member Board currently meets on the third Wednesday of each month from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m., usually in Hood River. Board members also contribute some time outside of Board meetings for GTA business. Any Full Member/ Sponsor of the GTA who has been a Full Member / Sponsor for at least one year is eligible. Board terms are one year in length. A ballot for the Board will be sent to all Full Members / Sponsors for a vote in April. Please contact Jessica by April 10 if you are interested in joining the Board.

2017 Wind Challenge Winners Honored

Thanks to Google’s PR team for this guest post!

Wind champions: local students take home prizes at Google Wind Challenge

Design competition and fair in The Dalles fosters STEM skills and lots of fun

THE DALLES, Ore. – March 11, 2017 – Although it was a fierce competition, only a few teams walked away as wind turbine champions earlier today as students from around the Gorge took part in the 4th annual Google Wind Challenge at the Fort Dalles Readiness Center in The Dalles, Oregon. This year, more than 175 students from 38 local high schools and middle schools competed to build the competition’s top turbines.

During the Wind Challenge, student teams worked together with volunteer mentors to design, build and test their turbines. The colorful, creative machines were then presented to judges Jennifer Christensen, Pam Morse, Barbara Smith, Mary Kramer, George McLean, Dave Mason, Shauna Lichtenthaler, Dana Campbell and Rye Scholin who selected the winners based on each turbine’s power and efficiency.

The popular Wind Challenge and accompanying STEM fair is sponsored by Google and produced in partnership with Gorge Technology Alliance and Columbia Gorge Community College (CGCC). The event is a culmination of the organizations’ broader efforts to bring hands-on STEM opportunities to area students and inspire the next generation of leaders in these fields.

“We hope the Wind Challenge sparks a lifetime of student and community interest in science and technology,” said Dave Karlson, data center operations manager for Google, and former teacher in The Dalles school district. “We’re proud to be a part of this event and we look forward to supporting more STEM education opportunities within the Gorge community in the future.”

Participants, family and friends and community members also got the chance to take part in the fun by exploring hands-on exhibits at the adjoining STEM fair, featuring  from OMSI, Bonneville Power, Gorge MakerSpace, Google Cardboard, Columbia Gorge Community College and more. Visitors to CGCC’s exhibit even got to build their own mini wind turbines.

This year, three high school division winners, three middle school division winners, and two categories of runner ups were selected (see names below). The winning teams received an assortment of fun prizes, including Sphero Sprks, Snap Circuit Kits, Makey Makeys and Tin Can Robot kits for their efforts. County Commissioners Steve Kramer and Rod Runyon were on hand to give out prizes.

High School Winners Middle School Winners
1st PLACE: Henkle Middle School – Wind Busters (middle school team chose to compete in the high school bracket) 1st PLACE: St. Mary’s Academy – SMA 1
2nd PLACE: Stevenson High School – Bulldog Blue 2nd PLACE: Corbett Middle School – Sea Manimals
3rd PLACE:Stevenson High School – Bulldog White 3rd PLACE:4-H Dufur and The Dalles Middle School – The A Team (aka Breeze)
Runner Up Awards:

*Top Electrical Energy Award for High School:
Lyle School – Cougar Wind

*Top Mechanical Energy Award for High School:
Horizon Christian – Wind Hawks

Runner Up Awards:

*Top Electrical Energy Award for Middle School: Goldendale Middle School – GMS Purple

*Top Mechanical Energy Award for Middle School: Wishram School – Wishram Team 1

“Once again, these students proved just how much creativity and ingenuity they have through their turbine designs,” said Gorge Technology Alliance Executive Director Jessica Metta. “I think the Wind Challenge shows how fun and engaging STEM education can really be.”

For more information about this year’s Wind Challenge, visit www.windchallenge.org.

Coffman Engineers

Coffman Engineers is a multi-discipline engineering consulting firm with services including structural, mechanical, electrical, civil/ surveying and fire protection engineering. Their customers are primarily commercial, industrial and government clients. Founded in 1979, the firm has close to 400 employees company-wide across offices in Seattle, Spokane, Anchorage, Bozeman, Oakland, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Guam, San Diego and now Hood River.  

The Hood River office is one of their newest branches, led by Structural Engineer Steve Hawk. He helps local industry access the firm’s impressive engineering experts in other offices to provide a wide range of services for new facilities, remodels or other technical projects that need basic engineering. “We are here to help clients with their facilities as their businesses are growing and let them keep focused on their core mission,” notes Hawk.  

Steve’s services are also unique as he is the only licensed Structural Engineer in the Gorge, a specific license under the Civil Engineering discipline which allows him to serve larger and more complicated projects than those with just a Professional Engineering license. His background in Coffman’s multi-disciplinary team provides an understanding of the different engineering disciplines working together. For example, he has helped the Port of Hood River with upgrades to some of their existing facilities along the waterfront which required understanding of multiple systems within and serving the facilities. He has also provided Insitu with owner’s rep services to help with the process of constructing Eagle Point, their newest facility, to increase understanding and communication between the general contractor, the design team, the developer and Insitu. A few of Coffman’s other niche specialties for work in the region are winery production facilities and industrial buildings to support the fruit industry.  

Coffman Engineers is a member of the GTA as a way to increase visibility with the region’s tech industry. “We’re excited to be in the Gorge and look forward to ways we can support local industry with our strong, multi-disciplinary engineering team,” says Hawk.   

Visit coffman.com or contact Steve Hawk with questions at 541-436-4034 or hawk@coffman.com.

About Steve Hawk, PE, SE, Structural Engineer, Coffman Engineers

Steve came to the Gorge in June 2010, drawn by his love of windsurfing. He had previously lived in Spokane where he grew up. Outside of the office, Steve still windsurfs and also enjoys skiing, learning to kite board and playing basketball with his son and volleyball with his daughter. The Hood River office is housed in Klein and Associates’ new building in Hood River as a good partnership. 

One of Steve’s interesting small local projects has been assisting the Port of Hood River with the engineering to fix the damaged supporting piles for the dock that is the site of the wind sports schools in the summer. “It felt nice to help keep the work local,” says Steve.

View Coffman Engineers’ profile on our website at http://crgta.org/coffman-engineers.

GTA 2016 Award Winners Announced

At the GTA’s December 13, 2016 Winter Party and Awards Ceremony, more than 50 members gathered to honor and celebrate the finalists and winners of the GTA’s 2016 Technology Leader and Technology Organization of the Year Awards. Bill Vaglienti was awarded 2016 Tech Leader of the Year and Trillium Engineering received the 2016 Tech Organization of the Year award for their inestimable positive impact on the technology community of the Gorge. 

Bill Vaglienti has made significant technical contributions on a multitude of fronts that have shaped the Unmanned Aerial Systems (or UAS) industry in the Gorge and nationally for more than 20 years. His technical leadership and vision have been key to the success of many of the most prominent UAS companies, programs and platforms.

Trillium Engineering is the perfect example of a successful Gorge technology startup company. Rob Gilchrist, Gail Dagan and Jeff Fisher had a great idea while working together at Cloud Cap Technology and believed in it enough to put it all on the line to follow their dream. Starting in 2013, in just three years they turned their idea into a thriving company of 11 and growing. They are also contributing game-changing innovations to the national UAS industry with their small, powerful gimbals and linear infrastructure monitoring.

The GTA also honored as Tech Leader Finalists Richard Foster of Klickitat County Economic Development; Tod Hilstad, Director of Information Technology for Hood River County School District; Cory Roeseler, Engineer with Hood Tech; and Robert Surton, Computer Science Professor at Columbia Gorge Community College. Read the full description of the incredible work of our finalists and winners at http://crgta.org/about/awards. Congratulations and thank you to everyone for your dedication, leadership and hard work! 

Fourteen Gorge Teams Advance to State Robotics Tournament, Some Teams Impacted by Weather

Almost 400 students aged 9 to 14 from schools all around the Gorge showed off their robotic talents over the last two weekends in the Gorge. Sixty-five student teams worked over the past several months as part of the international robotics competition known as FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) to compete in one of the Columbia Gorge Qualifying Tournaments held Dec. 3 and 4 at The Dalles Middle School or Dec. 10 and 11 at Wy’east Middle School.

Team pfudor from May Street Elementary making quick adjustments to their robot during the robot performance competition part of the tournament.
Team pfudor from May Street Elementary making quick adjustments to their robot during the robot performance competition part of the tournament.

Tournament organizers and teams this year faced a new challenge with the weather conditions over the second weekend. Ultimately, the Dec. 10 event was canceled and the Dec. 11 had a delayed start. While some teams from Dec. 10 were able to come on Dec. 11, 16 teams did not get to compete. “Canceling a tournament is always a hard call,” said Tournament Director Jessica Metta. “The dates are set at a national level and canceled events cannot be rescheduled. That means that months of effort from the students ends without the fun and excitement of a tournament.”

To accommodate those 16 teams affected by the weather, tournament organizers are planning an unofficial scrimmage in January. Those teams will also be placed in a lottery and four or five will be randomly chosen to advance to the State tournament.

The Gorge events are held by the Gorge Technology Alliance (GTA) with support from Oregon Robotics Tournament and Outreach Program, North Wasco County School District 21, Hood River County School District, Hood River County Education Foundation and White Salmon Valley Education Foundation. Local event sponsors include Boeing, Google and Insitu. Google also provides significant funding to support the Columbia Gorge robotics teams through Oregon Robotics Tournament and Outreach Program.

At the Gorge FLL tournaments, teams demonstrate their robot’s capabilities on the competition table, are interviewed by a robot design panel, present their Animal Allies research project and are assessed on teamwork skills. The teams impressed the judges, referees and tournament volunteers with their knowledge and teamwork. Each single-day tournament generates its own separate award winners and several teams that advance to the state tournaments.

From the three full days of competition held, the overall top teams were chosen to advance to the Oregon State Tournaments on January 14 or 15 in Hillsboro. The fourteen teams from the Gorge heading to Hillsboro include:

  • Overall 1st Place Champions: Fusion X from The Dalles Middle, BFDs (Big Friendly Dragons) from May Street, The Titans from Hood River Middle.
  • Overall 2nd Place Champions: The Technos from Henkle Middle, The Pandriods from Wy’east Middle, The Meme Team from Hood River Middle.
  • Additional top teams that advanced to the state tournament: Brick Busters from Horizon Christian, Robotic Destroyers from Irrigon, Hillbilly Tech Support from Sherman County, Robo Cheetahs from Colonel Wright, Yello Jackets from Hood River Middle, Tech Rex from Wy’east Middle, P4 from Vancouver and the Electronic Penguins from Little Oak Montessori in White Salmon.

Additional top awards were given to a number of teams for their outstanding performances in specific areas of the competition:

  • Core Values award: Brick Busters from Horizon Christian, Superbots from The Dalles Middle and P4 from Vancouver.
  • Project award: 2% Humans from Trout Lake, SWAG from Hood River and Robotic Acorns from May Street Elementary.
  • Robot Design award: Robo-Bros from Goldendale Middle, Rockin’ Robot Monkeys from May Street and Tech Rex from Wy’east Middle.
  • Robot Performance award: Robotic Catfishes from Westside Elementary, The Pandriods from Wy’east Middle and The Titans from Hood River Middle.
  • Rising Star award: RoboKeepers from Goldendale Middle and Electronic Penguins from Little Oak Montessori.

For more information about youth robotics in the Gorge, visit Gorgerobotics.org or contact Jessica Metta with the GTA at 541-296-2266 or Jessica@crgta.org.

CSG Pro

CSG Pro builds modern software solutions that expand knowledge through more informed and visual use of data. Through its Business Analytics and Custom Software Solutions practices, CSG Pro delivers value by helping clients intelligently bring together, analyze and interpret data to make informed decisions and streamline their business processes. They integrate cloud and mobile as appropriate to allow for scale, enhance the user’s experience and ensure long-term payoff.

CSG’s team of top-caliber professional technology consultants serve business clients in the Pacific Northwest and are headquartered in Portland’s Pearl District. They recently joined the GTA to expand their presence in the Gorge, which became opportune when Stephen Rogers, (White Salmon resident) joined the team in July 2016 as Strategic Solutions Consultant, to provide business development and virtual CTO capabilities.

Understanding how to quickly and accurately determine the proper relationships between business strategy and technology strategy is a core CSG strength that has accrued through long experience serving hundreds of clients in unique circumstances. As a Microsoft Gold Partner that is active in tracking and assessing the constant evolution of business technology ecosystems and tools, the CSG team is well equipped to help clients make the right decisions on key elements of IT strategy –  and also the best ways to build things out.

CSG’s fulfillment team can engage either through standalone projects, by augmenting a client’s development team, or through training/ mentoring of a client’s on-staff developers in specific technologies and techniques.

Over the 23 years since its inception, CSG has earned its reputation for delighting clients by creating deep, lasting relationships that are based on trust, respect, integrity and results.  No wonder that CSG clients almost always come back when their needs evolve to the next level.

CSG Pro has also recently partnered with Gorge Networks and Polar Systems to form Gorge Solution Partners, for the purpose of providing comprehensive, end-to-end IT solutions, training and support for Gorge businesses. For more information on CSG Pro or Gorge Solution Partners, contact Stephen at sarogers@csgpro.com or visit www.csgpro.com or www.gorgesolutionpartners.com.

About Jerry Frank, CEO of CSG Pro

Throughout his career Jerry Frank has been focused on helping senior managers apply technology solutions to improve decision-making and productivity. Since 1993 he has been doing that as CEO of CSG Pro, a team of top professionals who create custom software and data analytics solutions for business clients in the Pacific Northwest. Jerry’s passion is working with forward-thinking people to understand market shifts, business context and how leading edge technology solutions can impact change for a better future.

Volunteers Needed for Gorge FLL Tournaments

In crazy, breaking news, there will be four FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Tournaments in the Gorge for the first time ever. The GTA has been hosting these events since 2010 to support youth robotics and STEM education in the region. We have had enough teams over the last few years to require three events, but student participation has risen and this year we need FOUR! That means we need even more volunteers.

Our annual FLL robotics tournaments are fun and inspiring events for hundreds of 9 to 14 year olds from around the Gorge who have been working hard on their robots since September. No experience, engineering background or robotics awards needed: we have roles for people of all backgrounds and training is provided.

Volunteer Options:

  • Saturday, Dec 3, 9am to 3pm at The Dalles Middle School
  • Sunday, Dec 4, 9am to 3pm at The Dalles Middle School
  • Saturday, Dec 10, 9am to 3pm at Wy’east Middle School
  • Sunday, Dec 11, 9am to 3pm at Wy’east Middle School

Volunteer for one or more days. Enjoy the fun, let the students inspire you and eat well! Please let Jessica know if you can help!

Nominations Open for Annual Awards

The Gorge Tech Alliance is seeking nominations for Gorge tech leader and tech organization of the year for our annual awards. These awards honor those who are making great strides in growing the tech industry and/ or STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math) in the five-county Gorge region. Nominees need not be GTA members. Our 2015 winners were Steve Maier of Innovative Composite Engineering for Tech Leader of the Year and Prigel Machine for Tech Organization of the Year. Nominations will be accepted through November 11 and the winner announced at our Winter Party on December 13 at Solstice Pizza.
Download the applications here:

Nelson Brothers Engineering

Nelson Brothers Engineering is a unique company in the Gorge and unique among GTA Members. The family-run business in Trout Lake is focused on sawmill machinery optimization to get the most product out of each log. Using 3D laser profiler sensors, their equipment scans each log entering sawmill production in real-time, uses their unique software to model the log and run hundreds of combinations in the blink of an eye to determine the combination of product that can be cut from the log to leave the least amount of waste behind.

CEO Jeff Nelson was born into the business. His father Rod Nelson started the company in 1992, and while the number of sawmills has declined over the years, the need for their service remains constant. As a family business with four employees, Nelson Brothers finds their niche in working with family-run sawmills who want things kept simple and straightforward. This niche often takes them to the Southeastern U.S. where family sawmills are more common, but they work all over the country, including with WKO in Carson. Connecting in other parts of the family, Jeff’s brother Joe designs and manufactures their sensors at his Vancouver-based company.

Nelson Brothers Engineering works with a sawmill to set up the sensors and computers, install the software and set parameters. In just a few days, a sawmill can be up an running. With their simple system, Nelson Brothers rarely needs to service the equipment or servicing can be done by remotely accessing the computers.

Nelson Brothers Engineering is a newer member of the GTA. They joined the organization to meet others in the Gorge involved with software, especially as they consider evolving their software into a more modern platform, and to build other local business support connections.

Learn more at www.millsmart.com or contact Jeff at jeff@millsmart.com. Or watch this video to see their process at work.

Jeff Nelson, CEO, Nelson Brothers Engineering

Eight years ago, Jeff and his family made the move to Trout Lake from the Portland/ Vancouver area where he and his wife had grown up. Vacationing in Trout Lake for years, Jeff knew the community would be a perfect spot to raise their four kids, ages 6 to 16. Between Trout Lake School, the close-knit community with other young families moving in and their own extended family nearby, they are living the dream on the flanks of Mount Adams.

Sagetech Corporation

Sagetech Corporation has been a disruptive innovator in the field of miniature aviation surveillance equipment since 1998.  The XP family of transponders is the world leader in Size, Weight and Power, and can be found in drones from quadcopters to long endurance systems around the globe.  Sagetech also provides high quality contract manufacturing for UAV subsystems ranging from avionics packages, winglets and fuel system components, to complete empennage (tail section) assemblies.  Our AS9100 registered quality system assures that Sagetech customers like Boeing Insitu, Textron and Israel Aerospace Industries receive the highest quality production of their most critical parts.

At Sagetech, innovation and the relentless pursuit of perfection are hallmarks of our culture.  Constantly challenging current norms with smaller, lighter and more powerful aviation electronics, Sagetech is internationally known as the makers of the World’s Smallest Transponders™ and more.  With a highly talented and stable workforce, a history of growth and a strong product pipeline, Sagetech strives to be not just a great company, but a great company to work for!

Sagetech works very closely with other respected innovators in the Gorge, including Boeing Insitu, Cloud Cap Technology, Custom Interface, ANPC and Hood Tech.  We are proud members of the GTA because we love technology and we love the Gorge, and appreciate the opportunity to be part of an organization dedicated to growing and supporting this critical business sector.

Kelvin Scribner, Chief Executive Officer, Sagetech Corp.

Kelvin moved to the Gorge in 1994 to work for Hood Tech with Andy Von Flowtow, his thesis advisor from MIT. Kelvin spun off Sagetech in 1998 and has grown the company from his Hood River barn to multiple locations in White Salmon. Interesting fact: Kelvin served in the Air Force reserves, flying tankers and helicopters for both backyard missions (rescues on Mount Hood) and operations around the world.

Tom Furey, Chief Operating Officer, Sagetech Corp.

Tom joined Sagetech in early 2015 to lead day-to-day business operations.  With his breadth of experience in business management from small and large companies alike, he has helped position Sagetech for its continued growth and expansion.  A Naval Aviation veteran, he can often be found either on a mountain biking trail, or desperately trying to learn how to jibe after many years of windsurfing on calm lakes in the Midwest.

View Sagetech’s profile on our website at http://crgta.org/sagetech-corporation.