Tech alliance to focus on STEM ed in Gorge

The Goldendale Sentinel reports the Gorge Technology Alliance (GTA) is about to launch another initiative to impact STEM education in the Gorge. STEM is the hot acronym of the moment, standing for science, technology, engineering and math. The GTA, a nonprofit trade association focused on supporting the tech industry of the region, is creating a new college scholarship fund for Gorge students pursuing post-secondary STEM degrees.

“College is expensive and just getting worse,” says Jessica Metta, Executive Director of the GTA. “For a few years now, the GTA has wanted to develop a scholarship fund and since 2015 is our 10th anniversary, it seemed the perfect time to make it happen.”

Ten years ago, Mid-Columbia Economic Development District brought together the tech businesses in the five-county region to work on a plan to help them grow. Those at the table identified the need for their own support organization and committed financial support as members and sponsors to sustaining the organization. The GTA was formed and has grown along with the tech industry to now over 100 members representing more than 2,700 employees.

Over the years, the GTA has become more involved in supporting STEM education in the region to support the businesses and encourage the next generation of entrepreneurs and employees. With 60 robotics kits and laptops on loan to students and hosting of robotics tournaments and events, any parent with a student in robotics has been touched by the GTA. For the last two years, the GTA has also hosted a STEM Career Day for all seventh graders in the five-county region.

“We are excited to extend our STEM support to older students with the launch of this scholarship fund,” says Metta.

Students from Klickitat, Skamania, Hood River, Wasco, and Sherman counties would be eligible. The scholarship is being hosted with the Gorge Community Foundation and named the Corwin Hardham Memorial Scholarship.

Fundraising for the scholarship is kicking off on July 31, at 6 p.m. at the Columbia Gorge Hotel with a dinner and auction event sponsored by Insitu — Robot Rendezvous. Guests will be entertained with hands-on demos from high school students and businesses, music from Ben Bonham and Friends, plus delicious food and fun action items like quadcopters and sailing trips. Tickets must be purchased in advance and are on sale now for $55 each through the event’s website crgta.org/robot-rendezvous or by calling 541-296-2266.

“With the fundraiser, we plan to have scholarship applications open in spring 2016 to start giving back to the students,” says Metta. Those interested in contributing to the fund directly can do so by contacting the Gorge Community Foundation at www.gorgecf.org or 541-354-2009.



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