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.

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.

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.

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:

June 30 Fundraising Challenge for GTA College Scholarship

Connor AbbottMeet Connor Abbott. Connor is graduating this week from Goldendale High School with a 3.758 GPA and a passion to save human lives through use of robotics. He excelled on his high school’s VEX robotics team and will be attending Washington State University this fall to focus on Mechanical Engineering. With a single, working mom and a sister close in age preparing for college, Connor needs all the financial help he can get to realize his dreams of developing better bomb disposal robots or interstellar rovers.

Connor is the first-ever recipient of the GTA’s Corwin Hardham Memorial Scholarship to support students from the Columbia Gorge pursuing college degrees in science, technology, engineering and math. This year’s award was made possible by the contributions we received at our big event in July 2015, the Robot Rendezvous. We need your help to keep the fund growing and we need it today.

An anonymous donor has issued a challenge grant so that every dollar you contribute to the Corwin Hardham Memorial Scholarship before June 30 will be equally matched. In other words, your $50 contribution becomes $100 in the fund.

We were overwhelmed by the students that applied to the scholarship this year – fifteen enormously talented, ambitious young women and men from across the region with demonstrated financial need to achieve their dreams. Our goal is to provide larger scholarships to more than one student as the fund grows.  Please help us continue to offer and grow the scholarship.

The scholarship fund is managed by the Gorge Community Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization, so your contribution is fully tax-deductible. Click here to donate now to our scholarship fund. Please click the “Donate Now” button and then enter “Corwin Hardham Memorial Scholarship” when prompted where to direct your donation.

Thank you so much for supporting Connor and students like him through this scholarship!

Congrats to Wind Challenge Winners!

Thanks to Google for sharing this press release about the Wind Challenge event, co-hosted by the GTA:

Winners of the wind: 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. – April 30, 2016 – Earlier today, a fierce competition blew into town as students from around the Gorge took part in the third annual Google Wind Challenge at the Civic Auditorium in The Dalles, Oregon. This year, more than 100 students from 20 local high schools and middle schools competed to build the competition’s top turbines.

Participants, family and friends and community members also had the opportunity to explore science, technology, engineering and math at the adjoining STEM fair, featuring local high school robotics programs, Girls Inc., a traveling exhibit from the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (with science plexers and puzzles for attendees to solve) and more.

The popular Wind Challenge and fair is sponsored by Google and produced in partnership with Gorge Technology Alliance and Columbia Gorge Community College. The annual event is a culmination of the organizations’ broader efforts to bring hands-on STEM opportunities to area students.

“This day is all about sparking 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 a partner supporting learning opportunities in the community.”

During the Wind Challenge, 30 student teams worked together with volunteer mentors to design, build and test their turbines. The colorful, creative machines were then presented to local judges Phil Donovan, Israel Duran, Mary Kramer, Steve Kramer, Tom Lieruance, Dave Mason, Gary McFarlen and Brad Schrick, who selected the winners based on each turbine’s power and efficiency.

This year, three high school division winners and three middle school division winners were selected (see names below). The winning teams received an assortment of prizes, including STEM-related design kits, trips to OMSI, and robots for their efforts. State Representative Huffman, Mayor Lawrence and County Commissioners Kramer, Runyon and Hege were on hand to give out prizes.

High School Winners:

  • 1st: Stevenson High School
  • 2nd: Columbia High School
  • 3rd: Tie between South Wasco County High School and The Dalles High School

Middle School Winners:

  • 1st: Henkle Middle School
  • 2nd: St. Mary’s Academy
  • 3rd: Sherman Jr. Sr. High School

“The students showed creativity and ingenuity in their turbine designs, and from their reactions, I think we are proving that fun and learning can go hand in hand,” said Gorge Technology Alliance Executive Director Jessica Metta. “We can’t wait to do it all again next year!”

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

GTA Board President Brad Schrick checks the alignment of a turbine as a judge at the 2016 event.
GTA Board President Brad Schrick checks the alignment of a turbine as a judge at the 2016 event.

Third Annual STEM Career Day A Success

On April 29th, 2016, the Gorge Technology Alliance hosted our third annual STEM Career Day inviting all 7th graders in the Gorge to learn about local career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math. The 2016 event brought together around 750 students from schools in Hood River, Odell, Klickitat, Mosier, The Dalles, Dufur, Centerville and Stevenson for presentations on The Dalles Campus of Columbia Gorge Community College. “This event is important for inspiring our local students to reach for the wonderful careers in our region, to pursue those college degrees we need and then come to work for our companies,” said Jessica Metta, GTA Executive Director.

The event was sponsored by Columbia River Insurance and organized with help from Columbia Gorge Community College, OSU Open Campus, The Dalles and Hood River Middle Schools. Many thanks also to these presenters who volunteered their time to make the day amazing:

Google IBEW 48 Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue
Insitu Interfluve Dakine
CGCC Renewable Energy Technology Program Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Light Wave Communications
CGCC Health Sciences Program Sigma Design Integrated 3D
CGCC Computer Science Program Full Sail Cardinal Glass
New Buildings Institute Goldendale Observatory Cascade Mountain School
Googler Adam Gardner shares the many career opportunities with Google.
Googler Adam Gardner shares the many career opportunities with Google.
Interfluve_STEM_Career_Day
Students listen to Nichole Smith from Interfluve present about flow dynamics on a stream table.