R.L. Blaisdell Consulting

R.L. Blaisdell Consulting is a consulting practice focused on strategic cybersecurity and information technologies for business and government. Owner Randy Blaisdell most recently served as the Systems Director of Information Assurance for The Aerospace Corporation after retiring as a full Colonel in the United States Air Force. When he says he’s been in cybersecurity for 36 years, people are often skeptical that the field existed in 1981, but Randy was indeed there at its infancy helping the military write the Trusted Computer System Evaluation Criteria, often known as “The Orange Book.” 
 
In his current business, Randy advises senior leaders in both the government and commercial sectors on strategies for navigating the complex and constantly evolving cyber landscape. His work with companies helps them understand their cyber environment as it relates to the business in order to develop protection strategies from both targeted and random threats. “Many companies don’t see all the ways they are vulnerable and the sometimes simple things that can be done to protect themselves,” says Randy. That’s where he comes in. 
 
Small businesses with all their accounts receivable on one or two computers could be severely impacted by a random piece of malware that destroys the computers, and perhaps the business. Larger companies benefit from Randy’s independent reviews of their cybersecurity posture to protect intellectual property and to verify compliance when working with government contracts. Fixes can be as simple as ensuring basic network hygiene by properly configuring routers and changing default passwords or as complex as a full analysis of your corporate information content to understand what needs to be protected from whom and where the vulnerabilities are in your hardware, software and staff.  “If your business depends on being connected or if you have intellectual property on your computer, you are vulnerable,” notes Randy.
 
R.L. Blaisdell Consulting is a member of the GTA to connect and share with others in technology in the Gorge. Learn more about Randy’s background here or contact him directly at blazeawc@gmail.com.

Governor Brown Makes 4th STEM Career Day Extra Special

The GTA was thrilled to have Oregon Governor Kate Brown welcome students at our fourth-annual STEM Career Day on April 28, 2017 at Columbia Gorge Community College (CGCC) in The Dalles. She welcomed the students and engaged them in thinking about what they want for their futures to set the stage for the day. 

Around 700 7th graders from the Gorge’s five counties attended this year’s event to learn about local jobs in science, technology, engineering and math and the educational pathways to reach those jobs. The event included a presentation about what it’s like to go to college at CGCC and Oregon State University (OSU), as well as a presentation from Insitu engineers Kenna and Alden Welsh on their pathway and experience at Insitu.
 
The students then broke into smaller groups to travel around the campus and hear presentations from CGCC Health Sciences Program, CGCC Renewable Energy Technology Program, Google, Hood Tech, IBEW 48, Insitu, Interfluve, Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue, NuCulture Foods, Oregon Dept. Environmental Quality, Oregon Dept. Fish and Wildlife, Qstream, Real Carbon, Research Scientists Miller/ McCabe, SigmaDesign, TacAero and Zepher. 
 
Many thanks to Columbia River Insurance, our event sponsor! Thank you also to CGCC for hosting, Suzanne Burd with CGCC and Ann Harris with OSU Open Campus for helping organize and to the many businesses noted above for their participation. Thank you also to Governor Brown for making our annual event extra special.

Radiant Perspectives

Founded in November 2014, Radiant Perspectives helps businesses tell their story in a visually engaging way by developing interactive digital exhibits and experiences that often combine video, 2D/3D graphics, and animation.  Additionally, Radiant Perspectives works with businesses to develop custom training programs using virtual and augmented reality.  Owner Chuck Evans pulls together his engineering and artistic sides to create immersive experiences that look great and are a joy to use. 

Past examples of interactive digital exhibits created by Radiant Perspectives include wall-sized touchscreens for conference centers, company headquarters, and universities that allow executives to showcase information about their company or school in a unique and engaging way. These exhibits are often part of a branding strategy for outreach to customers and prospective students.  One project for a credit union created a multitaction table with physical objects that could be placed upon the table which activated different stories about the company. The project required significant creativity to make the virtual elements interact with each other in a convincing, yet playful way. (Learn more about that project here.)

In the virtual and augmented reality realm, Radiant Perspectives creates applications to help businesses train employees, and support customers.  Examples include training first responders to deal with dangerous situations by simulating them in an immersive environment, or help businesses improve efficiency and productivity by making information visually accessible on-demand.

Radiant Perspectives’ work is on display at Harvard, Verizon, Pac-12 and other locations around the nation.

Radiant Perspectives is a member of the GTA to connect with the community, meet others working locally in the tech scene, and support its mission to grow the tech industry in the Gorge. Learn more at radiantperspectives.com.

About Chuck Evans, Owner, Radiant Perspectives

Chuck moved to the Gorge four years ago when he was still working as a Senior Graphics Engineer for Intel. After working remotely for 9 months, Chuck had the opportunity to leave and create his own company, Radiant Perspectives. Chuck started his career as an Electrical Engineer focused on integrated circuit design for HP. Looking for more creativity in his work, he returned to school to receive his M.S. in Computer Science, 3D Graphics and Animation from Oregon State. Outside of the office, Chuck enjoys playing volleyball with his wife and outdoor sports with their four girls. 

View their GTA website profile here.

Overwatch Imaging

Overwatch Imaging is one of the Gorge’s newest UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) companies, having recently celebrated their one year anniversary. Overwatch helps UAV companies grow into civil and commercial markets by making custom camera systems for those opportunities. From infrastructure inspection, to fire detection and mapping, emergency management and agriculture, Overwatch’s unique solutions emphasize image processing for automatic detection of needles in haystacks. “While camera systems already exist to collect lots of aerial data, our solutions sift through the data in real-time to find the points of interest,” says Founder and Manger Greg Davis. “Our automatic detection versus a person watching hours of video dramatically lowers the cost equation for commercial customers trying to use UAVs as an economically viable tool.” With better information at their fingertips, civil and commercial end users of Overwatch’s solutions are more efficient and effective.

Real-time image processing is unique to the industry, allowing Overwatch to simply present the answer to the customer rather than overwhelming them with data. The business model is also unique in that every product is made in partnership with a customer focused on a specific application, meaning that the base architecture of the camera system is tailored to meet niche requirements. “We are making exactly the right solution for each individual client we work with,” says Greg. This involves rounds of internal rapid prototyping of mechanical, structural and electrical parts as well as experimentation with fitting the pieces together and connectivity of systems.

Typical customers for Overwatch are established US or international companies making long-endurance UAVs, generally for military applications but who are seeking opportunities to grow into civil and commercial uses. Even after just one year, Overwatch is seeing traction in the market for their products. As a result, they have openings for two new positions and one intern to fill out their current staff or four employees and four contract team members (job opening details here). With two co-founders who had spent years in the Gorge’s UAV industry, starting their business here was an easy decision.”There is so much aerospace talent in the Gorge, the supply chain we need, and we love the community,” says Greg. “The Gorge is an ideal place to have a company working in the UAV industry.”

Overwatch is a member of the GTA because “the GTA is a great connector of local like-minded individuals and companies, both as a connector for supply relationships and just as a social connector.” Greg adds, “It’s great to have an organization pulling us all together.” They also appreciate the voice that the GTA gives to our regional tech industry in local, state and national politics as a way for the companies to express their top priorities.

Learn more at overwatchimaging.com or contact them at 541-716-4832 or greg@overwatchimaging.com.  

About Greg Davis, Founder and Manager, and Nick Anderson, Founder and Design Engineer

Greg moved from the Bay area in 2006 to join Insitu. After eight years there and two with Cloud Cap, Greg formed Overwatch with Co-Founder Nick Anderson (see below). Outside of the office, Greg enjoys spending time with his three wonderful girls and wife (a teacher at Hood River Valley High School) as they teach the girls all the usual Gorge sports and an early love of tech through FIRST LEGO League. He appreciates the strong ethos of work/ life balance and outdoor recreation in the Gorge and is excited to work in the tech industry in such an awesome place.

Nick grew up in Portland and went to school for aerospace engineering at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He didn’t know there were aerospace companies in the Gorge until the small business he had in college re-selling fiberglass and carbon braided sleeves (that he was running out of his dorm room) took in a web order from someone with “@insitu.com” as the email address. From there he found out about Insitu, applied for an internship and the rest was history. After two years at Insitu and six at Cloud Cap, he left to form Overwatch Imaging with Co-Founder Greg Davis. Outside of the office, Nick enjoys typical Gorge outside pursuits, landscape and aviation photography, and making things such as small robots, home automation, electrical projects, etc.

View Overwatch Imaging’s profile on our website at http://crgta.org/overwatch-imaging.

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 one of the few licensed Structural Engineers 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.