Employee Spotlight: Justin Gradek @ OMEP

 

Meet Justin Gradek, OMEP’s consultant assigned to cover the Columbia River Gorge Region. Justin has been with OMEP for six years as a Senior Manufacturing Consultant. Justin consults with manufacturers around the state on a wide range of topics including capacity growth, strategy, facility layout, and equipment selection. He also does design work and coaching when called for. A portion of his time is spent on advancing manufacturing CTE programs with educators around the state.

Justin loves the flexibility in his work with OMEP. He appreciates that the agency’s mission and work style allows it’s employees to work with clients and on projects that the employees themselves are passionate about. For Justin, his work with companies in the Gorge to help create economic prosperity in the community where he lives is more than simply a professional goal – it is a personal goal as well.

“I’ve lived in The South, big cities on the east coast, California, and Europe – and there is nowhere as beautiful as the Pacific Northwest and The Gorge specifically. I also find the people of the west to embody a lot of the ruggedness and perseverance that I imagine it took to establish farming and industry on this land a couple hundred years ago. The Northwest has a lot of opportunity for people looking to build a good life while trying something new, and I think that’s me.” 

Picture of Justin and partner Monica Gulley and 3 sons, taken at home in Hood River summer 2022

When asked to give an example of something innovative, progressive, or exciting in his work, Justin described OMEP’s “Ready or Not” business simulation. This 4-hour, in-person group exercise gives teams of 5-8 people leadership roles within a fictional company in order to collaboratively make decisions and investments to grow the company based on the strategy they create. Teams compete against each other during this event, and it is interesting, educational and fun. OMEP has delivered this simulation to groups as large as 300 people and as small as 30. His current work involves adapting the simulation to be incorporated into Portland Public Schools’ CTE programs, as well as around the state at various institutions throughout 2023. This simulation is good context for much of the work that OMEP does, and Justin encourages people to go through the exercise whenever possible.

About the Company

Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership OMEP is best described as a “Public Non-profit” funded through NIST grants, Business Oregon state funding, and client fees. OMEP is part of the nation-wide NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership program, the goal of which is to advance small and medium-sized manufacturing by making business consulting available to this specific industry demographic. 

OMEP has a staff of about 20 consultants based around the state. Each consultant has specialized expertise in manufacturing and a broad network of generalist skills to assist manufacturers in current and pressing challenges. The companies we work with span aerospace, medical devices, food products, assembly, construction, and primary wood and metal processing. If a company uses a process to change a product, then OMEP can likely work with them. 

The range of expertise that OMEP consultants deliver fits into three broad categories:

  1. Manufacturing operations: including lean manufacturing and continuous improvement, manufacturing engineering, and technology solutions.
  2. Business Financials and Strategy: mastering financial understanding, understanding growth services, and developing strategies for success.
  3. Workforce Solutions: examining the organization’s structure and alignment, leadership and employee development, and recruiting onboarding and training.

OMEP joined the GTA with goals that are both broad and specific: to contribute to the local economy directly by helping companies who can benefit from our expertise, and to contribute indirectly by partnering with organizations that advance manufacturing through technology-focused training, working with educators to expose the next generation of workers to manufacturing opportunities, and facilitating groups working on challenges that are tangent to manufacturing.

OMEP Office

Online appointments and Onsite services

7650 SW Beveland St. #170

Portland, OR 97223

omep.org

Phone: 503-406-3770

Contact Justin directly!

Email: jgradek@omep.org

phone: 661.203.2273

Quick Links

www.omep.org

GTA Website>OMEP

Application Period for the 2023 Corwin Hardham Memorial Scholarship is Now Open!

Corwin Hardham Scholarship Applic

Applications for the 2023 Corwin Hardham Memorial Scholarship are now OPEN. This scholarship is awarded annually to Gorge high school seniors pursuing post-secondary degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM). Eligible students are those from Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, Skamania, and Klickitat Counties who are graduating from high school, home school, or receiving a GED in the spring/ summer.

Completed applications must be received by the Gorge Tech Alliance by 5pm on Monday, February 27, 2023.

Learn more about Corwin Hardham and this scholarship in his honor here.

The 2023 application is now available here.

Please contact Kristyn Fix with questions.


Please consider a donation now to help the GTA continue supporting the next generation of STEM-focused leadership in the Gorge! The fund is held at the Gorge Community Foundation. CLICK HERE and select the “Corwin Hardham Memorial Scholarship Fund” for receipt of your tax-deductible donation. 

Biz OR Small Business & Microenterprise Grant Program

Oregon small business and microenterprise assistance is now available through an accessible grant program. The Oregon Business Development Department has partnered with CCD Business Development Corporation, a private nonprofit economic development organization, to administer and process the $3 million dollars allocated to the CDBG-CV Statewide Emergency Small Business & Microenterprise Grant Program. This program is funded with federal grant funds from the Oregon Community Development Block Grant program CARES Act funding for communities affected by COVID-19.

Applications open on Monday, January 23 and you can visit the site here to learn more or download this one-pager to share with others in your sector who may be eligible.

2022 STEM Leadership Recognized by GTA

Thanks to so many of you for coming out to our Winter Party to honor our 2022 award winner, Sally Anderson!
 
Sally Anderson was nominated to receive this year’s award by the Columbia Gorge STEM Hub Director, Julie Cucuel. Sally is the K-5 STEM Educator for Hood River County School District. Sally visits every Elementary school in the Hood River County School District to provide STEM lessons to all students in grades K-5, driving up on the amazing STEM Fab Bus. Sally also works with school administration to explore solutions to funding, programming and scheduling in order to ensure that all students are provided with quality STEM educational experiences. 
 
Sally is passionate about her work and it shows!  She is responsible for organizing school-wide STEM Night Events for the families and communities throughout Hood River County.  She partnered with Cascade Locks Elementary to provide a community-wide STEM Night Event, post-covid, and is currently planning community-wide STEM Nights for May Street, Parkdale and Mid-Valley Elementary schools.   
 
Sally’s leadership goes above and beyond simply providing quality STEM education experiences to her students.  She also supports other educators in their learning and growth. For example, this year she has supported the HRCSD Media Specialists in receiving Code.org Training, and further supported them with bringing coding into their classroom instruction and curriculum by coordinating collaborative planning time to develop and implement classroom lessons for all students K-5.   She is currently developing Ozobot Training to share with the entire Columbia Gorge Region this Spring
 
Sally considers innovation as a top priority, and she continues to learn and grow through ongoing professional development.  She has chosen to direct her award dollars to Hood River County School District. Congratulations and jobs well done, Sally!

Business Oregon: State of Oregon’s Uncrewed Aerial Systems & Economic Impact

Uncrewed Aerial Systems (“UAS” or “drones”) are one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States. Business Oregon commissioned an analysis to evaluate the size of the State’s UAS sector and to evaluate the total economic impact of UAS on the State’s Economy. UAS companies were surveyed to estimate their UAS‐related employment and to determine what their role in the UAS sector is. Many companies provide goods and services to aerospace companies, and companies were asked to estimate only their UAS‐related employment.

The state of Oregon has been an early leader in the UAS sector for much of the last decade. This early leadership in the UAS sector is generally attributable to two factors. First, the location of Insitu across the Columbia River, an early UAS success story, resulted in the creation of a cluster of support contractors, particularly in the sensor and optics fields. In addition, the creation of the Pendleton UAS Test Range resulted in a robust research, development, and testing center for UAS companies. Pendleton was a partner in the Alaska‐Hawaii‐Oregon UAS Test Site program, authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 2014. Tillamook and Warm Springs are also partners in the test site program. To read the rest of the report and learn more CLICK HERE.

Tech and STEM Leader Award Nominations for 2022 are now open!

The GTA recognizes outstanding achievement among our membership each year from October 1, 2021 to September 30, 2022.  Nominations are now open, and must be submitted by November 15th to be considered. Our categories are:

Tech Leader of the Year, which recognizes the outstanding achievement over the last year on the part of an individual or company that principally provides technology products, services, or support in the Columbia River Gorge. All technology sectors are eligible, as are sectors not traditionally characterized as technological if the individual/ company has an extraordinary commitment to innovation or using technology. 

Our 2021 winner was Columbia Gorge Community College’s Career and Technical Education Department, for pioneering new ways to provide our current and future workforce with the skills it needs for successful employability in industries across the Gorge. The incredible and tireless work from everyone in the department helped make the opening of the Regional Skills Center in Fall 2021 a reality.  Additional Technology Leader of the Year finalists honored were: Nick Anderson from Overwatch Imaging and Mary Kramer from CGCC.

Nominate Your Choice for:   GTA 2022 Tech Leader Award Here

 

STEM Education Leader of the Year recognizes an individual for outstanding contributions to STEM (science, tech, engineering, and math) education in the Columbia River Gorge over the last year.  Nominations should describe why (with specificity) the person is being nominated for such recognition.

Our 2021 winner was Amy Foley, HRVHS Computer Science Teacher, recognized for her hard work in developing the first official sequence of Computer Science courses ever offered at the High School. Amy engaged in rigorous coursework to develop her own skills and knowledge in order to be able to offer the CS programs to students and her personal initiative has opened countless opportunities to the students at HRVHS.  Additional STEM Educator of the Year finalists honored were:  Michael Glane from Hood River Valley High School, James Pytel from CGCC, David Scharfenberg from Hood River Middle School, and Jamie Sowell from South Wasco County School District. 

Nominate Your Choice for:  GTA 2022 STEM Leader Award Here 

Nominations must be received by 5 pm on November 15, 2022 to be considered.  The winners will be announced at the GTA’s Winter Party and Awards Ceremony.  Contact Kristyn with questions. 

Member Spotlight: Columbia Gorge STEM Hub

Columbia Gorge STEM Hub                                                

400 E Scenic Drive #207

The Dalles, OR 97058

                                                                                                                www.gorgestem.org       541-296-2046

 

About the STEM Hub

The Columbia Gorge STEM Hub was founded in 2016 when the region applied to the State of Oregon’s Department of Education to have a STEM Hub and was awarded funding in the 2015-17 biennium. It is one of thirteen STEM Hubs across the state of Oregon. The STEM Hub is the convener of a regional network of schools, educators, nonprofits and business partners who are all working together towards the goal to ensure that all learners in the region are STEM literate and future-ready. 

The Gorge STEM Hub serves the five-county Oregon region comprised of Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, Gilliam, and Wheeler counties.  This area includes ten school districts ranging in size from 53 to 3760 students. The Hub also collaborates with the  Gorge’s  Washington  partners in Skamania and Klickitat counties. All of the region’s Oregon school districts interact with the STEM Hub for at least one project. Local businesses (including several GTA members!) and non-profits also support with STEM Hub efforts by participating in regional work groups, co-leading projects, and providing volunteers or financial contributions.  The STEM Hub works through collective impact, an approach that amplifies what can be achieved by the staff of just three.

Many of the STEM Hub’s projects, such as collaborating with school districts on curriculum planning, are done behind the scenes. The more visible parts, like training teens to be STEM Leaders in their communities, working with businesses to increase access to career connected learning, coordinating internships, and community wide events such as the Gorge STEM Fair, build momentum for the Hub’s work as community awareness and participation increases.

The Columbia Gorge STEM Hub’s three broad strategic focus areas each encompass several efforts.

 

Empowered Educators includes PreK and Elementary trainings and leadership cohortslending library; annual summer STEM Symposium; MakerClub after school program (led by site-based educators); Microgrants; and more.

 

 

2022 Wasco Co Children_s STEM Fair_ building with magnatiles.jpg

 

 

Connected Community includes the annual Gorge STEM Fair; supporting partner events; Family STEM Nights; STEM Hub collaboratories; community newsletters and resource sharing. 

 

CGCC Welding _ Mfg. Program Spring 2022.jpg

 

Engaged Career Partners includes regional leadership  around Career Connected Learning; College & Career Expo; Gorge Career Challenge; developing a summer internship list and guest speakers list.

There are always several projects going across the three focus areas!   If you are interested in getting your company involved, or have general insights to share, please contact Christy at:  cchristopher@cgesd.k12.or.us

Learn more at www.gorgeSTEM.org

 

GTA Participation is needed for our August Teacher Externship focused on Modern Manufacturing!     

This is a three-day event for secondary teachers and counselors to help them understand what manufacturing looks like in 2022. The event is designed to give teachers first-hand knowledge of the many types of jobs involved and the skills needed in manufacturing, so they can in turn infuse that knowledge in their work with local youth. The event plans include in-person tours of a variety of companies as well as virtual panels. Companies that would like to help with either of these pieces are encouraged to reach out to Christy.

About the Director

Christy Christopher.jfif

Christy Christopher was born and raised in Hood River. She left the Gorge for college and the first ten years of her career, moving back upon seeing that the Gorge had become a more economically diverse place during the decade of her absence. The core aspects of the close-knit, engaged community and the beautiful surroundings that make the Gorge a great place to live, and the proximity to her family were deciding factors in Christy’s decision to return.  When not working, Christy can be found outside trail running, traveling to new places, and spending time with her husband and young children.

 

 

 

2022 Corwin Hardham Memorial Scholarship Awarded

The 2022 Corwin Hardham Scholarship has been awarded to Hood River Valley High School student Sandra Castillo Palacios. There were thirteen well-qualified applicants for this year’s scholarship. The GTA Board of Directors used a scoring matrix to narrow the pool to one final recommendation which was forwarded to the Gorge Community Foundation Board of Directors for final approval.

Miss Castillo Palacios is a first-generation student with plans to study Computer Science. As a high school senior with a 4.0 GPA, Miss Castillo Palacios is already certified in Beginner HTML and CSS as well as Beginner JavaScript. With a well-rounded record in volunteer community service, practical work experience, and a perfect academic record, Miss Castillo Palacios is a deserving recipient of the 2022 Corwin Hardham Scholarship. Congratulations to Miss Castillo Palacios!

The GTA proudly launched the Corwin Hardham Memorial Scholarship fund in 2015. This scholarship is awarded annually to Gorge high school seniors pursuing post-secondary degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM). Eligible students are those from Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, Skamania, and Klickitat counties who are graduating from high school, home school, or receiving a GED in the spring / summer. Donations to the fund can be made here.

Join the GTA at AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2022

One of the best benefits about being a member of the Gorge Tech Alliance is that fellow GTA members are never too far away, even if you leave the Columbia River Gorge. We are excited to announce that nine member companies of the Gorge Tech Alliance are exhibiting at the 2022 AUVSI XPONENTIAL tradeshow in Orlando, FL.  The majority of the GTA member booths are located near one another, off one of the main aisles.

  • SightLine Applications, booth number 2551
  • Overwatch Imaging, booth number 2754
  • Power4Flight, LLC, booth number 2754
  • Sagetech Avionics, Inc., booth number 2230
  • Sierra-Olympic Technologies, booth number 1851
  • SigmaDesign, booth number 2649
  • Silicon Forest Electronics, Inc., booth number 2649
  • Trillium Engineering, booth number 2557
  • Zepher, booth number 2565

This is the first year the GTA is lending added support to members at XPONENTIAL with an identifiable marker.  It will be easy to identify which booths are GTA members, simply look for the blue and gold GTA floor sticker. Each booth will have a GTA floor sticker in the aisle outside their booth.  Additionally, table top flyers will be on display at members’ booths talking about the GTA and our mission.  

If you are interested in coming to the mixer, stop by any of the sponsor XPONENTIAL booths for tickets.  All are invited!

Sierra-Olympic Technologies: Leaders in Optical Gas Imaging Technology

The Ventus OGI detects and visualizes hydrocarbon gases, including methane, propane, and butane.

On the near horizon, the oil and gas industry will be required to answer calls from consumers, investors, utility companies, and regulators to deliver cleaner energy paired with far greater transparency about greenhouse gas emissions, including methane and other gasses. While the carbon footprint of natural gas is relatively low, its primary component methane has more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over the first 20 years after it reaches the atmosphere.

The climate warming impact of methane emissions has been well-known in the energy industry for many years. In the wake of the COP26 meetings in Glasgow Scotland in November of 2021 awareness suddenly shot up for millions more people around the world. There are now more than 100 international signatories, including the U.S., to the voluntary Global Methane Pledge, committing all who signed to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030.

According to the U.S. EPA, natural gas and petroleum are the second largest human-caused source of methane emissions in the U.S., second only to animal agriculture.  Fortunately, awareness of the environment risks from methane is increasing and emissions from the energy sector can be mitigated, in part by deploying the latest in OGI (optical gas imaging) technology.

Methane emissions detection photo

The Sierra-Olympic team is proud to be on the cutting edge of this technology with the Ventus OGI, the smallest, lightest OGI camera core available. Third-party testing determined the Ventus OGI meets the regulatory standard in EPA’s OOOOa standards and documentation of that testing is available upon request. Look for Ventus OGI on the Colorado AIMM (Alternative Instrument Monitoring Method), as well.

Whether integrated into handheld, aerial, ground robotics, or continuous monitoring systems, OGI is becoming the industry standard for safely and efficiently surveying infrastructure, locating leaks, setting repair plans, and complying with global regulations. OGI safely and efficiently delivers actionable emissions data, enabling oil and gas operators to find and fix leaks and get in compliance with current and imminent emissions regulations.

Across the value chain, the oil and gas sector is intensifying efforts to detect and repair systemic problems that lead to leaking methane. Whether as a part of market-driven environmental, social and governance goals, or in preparation for stricter methane emissions leak detection and repair regulations, the industry is steadily moving toward delivering cleaner, lower emissions energy. Sierra-Olympic Technologies, Inc. is a respected leader in the development of state-of-the-art technologies that are poised to identify and reduce methane emissions and advance the goals of the Global Methane Pledge quickly and effectively. For more detailed information on our OGI work, please visit us at: Sierra-Olympic OGI technology.

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Interested in a remote demonstration of the Ventus OGI’s gas plume visualization capability? Email marketing@sierraolympic.com