Nominations Open for 2017 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 2016 winners were Bill Vaglienti of Power4Flight for Tech Leader of the Year and Trillium Engineering for Tech Organization of the Year. Nominations will be accepted through November 9 and the winner announced at our Winter Party on December 12 at Springhouse Cellar Winery.
Download the applications here:

Gorge Women in STEM

The Gorge Tech Alliance is starting a new offering and initiative for women working in STEM fields (science, tech, engineering and math) in the Gorge. We’re exploring how we can support and connect our women professionals and encourage the next generation of female students into STEM degrees. An initial gathering event is in the works, possibly in late October, and we hope to announce details soon! 

Meet Suzanne Burd, GTA Board Secretary

Suzanne Burd has been a dedicated GTA Board member for years through her position with Columbia Gorge Community College. We were happy to see her featured in the most recent “Women in Business” publication in the Gorge. Click here to see the full article, “A Love for Learning,” on page 6 of the publication.
“For the past two decades, Suzanne Burd has worked at the Columbia Gorge Community College as the community education coordinator and the renewable energy technology program coordinator. “I wear several hats,” Burd explained. “I coordinate all the community education classes. I write grants, and I represent the college on state and local work force initiatives. I work in professional development for employees and employers, and help provide comprehensive course development and delivery. There are so many cool programs that are helping people.”

GTA Member News: CGCC Transforms Renewable Energy Tech Program to Electro-Mechanical Tech to Better Serve Gorge Industry

Columbia Gorge Community College recently announced the transformation of their Renewable Energy Technology program to Electro-Mechanical Technology to address the changing industry needs in the Gorge. “The local renewables industry is evolving to include advanced manufacturing, unmanned aerial systems, and instrumentation and process control. In response, CGCC is revamping its Renewable Energy Technology degree to meet those changes. The name of the program is changing, too, from Renewable Energy Technology, or RET, to Electro-Mechanical Technology, or EM-Tech (pronounced M-tech for short). Instructor James Pytel says the shift is “not so much of a change in focus but rather a redesign to fit the regional needs and remain flexible. Our desired outcome is to offer foundational technical skills with an array of specialized options,” Pytel explained.” Read the full article on CGCC’s website here.

Robotics Sign Ups Begin as School Starts, Training Sept 9

The new school year brings a new crop of students itching to get their hands on a robot! One of the easiest ways to help your student find their way to a robot is to get involved with FIRST robotics. FIRST is a national program with a sports-like model where students meet as teams over several months to prepare for a competition. There are FIRST programs in the Gorge for students ages 6 to 18. 

Your first step? Contact your child’s school to ask if they have a team or check the list of past participating schools at Most teams form soon after school starts to prepare for competitions in the winter. If your student’s school does not have a team, call Jessica Metta with the Gorge Tech Alliance at 541-296-2266 to talk about resources to support forming a team. The GTA has free robots and laptops for loan and can point you towards training resources and mentors to support you in forming a team. 

One upcoming training is Sept 9, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm at Hood River Extension for coaches of FIRST LEGO League (FLL) teams for students ages 9 to 14. Teams begin meeting now to prepare for one of the Gorge Qualifying Tournaments held the first two weekends in December, sponsored by Insitu and Google. The free workshop covers an intro to FLL, coaching and mentoring techniques, basic robot programming and mechanical design techniques. Pre-registration is required. Find registration links and more information about robotics in the Gorge at, a service of the GTA. 

The GTA’s equipment for loan and support of robotics events is made possible by our regional tech businesses including Google, Insitu and others. 

Business Resources at Gorge Small Business Development Center

Did you know the Gorge has a Small Business Development Center that offers free one-on-one business counseling, workshops and other services? They work with businesses in every industry and at every stage of growth from start-ups to well-established companies, from one employee to 500. Housed at Columbia Gorge Community College, upcoming courses include a Quickbooks Learning Lab in August and the Small Business Management Program.
The Small Business Management Program is open to business owners and managers of businesses that have been operating for at least 1 year. This ten-month program (meets one day per month) provides 30 hours of classroom training and up to 20 hours of one on one business counseling and mentoring. It provides an opportunity for established business owners to improve their financial knowledge and management skills. Classes include business planning, understanding financial statements, breakeven and cashflow analysis, growth planning, marketing / website, employee management/strategic planning, and business transition. Learn more about the SBDC or search their online resources here

GTA Strategic Planning Continues

As we’ve reported before, the GTA is elbow-deep in an intensive Strategic Planning initiative for the organization. Many thanks to our many members and sponsors who took our online survey or participated in one-on-one interviews to inform our background research. The Board will be meeting on August 3 to use your feedback in a focused retreat. Stay tuned for details as a stronger, future-facing organization emerges with even better tools to serve the Gorge’s tech community!  

Seeking Individual Passionate for STEM Education

The GTA has been proud to be a part of the Gorge STEM Hub since its beginning a few years ago. The STEM Hub is a regional collaborative of schools, nonprofits, business and civic leaders with the shared goal of transforming science, tech, engineering and math education for students. 

The Gorge STEM Hub is seeking a unique individual to serve as the Coordinator to lead, focus, inspire and collaborate with the diverse partners in achieving the STEM Hub’s goals. Find more information here.