Vancouver Business Journal

Mon10202014

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Introducing the Accomplished & Under 40 Class of 2014

Introducing the Accomplished & Under 40 Class of 2014

The Vancouver Business Journal is pleased to announce the Accomplished and Under...

East county bridge proposal causes contention within freight industry

East county bridge proposal causes contention within freight industry

After $200 million taxpayer dollars were spent on the botched Columbia River Cro...

Angels bringing ideas to light

Angels bringing ideas to light

Most new businesses come to being with a great idea. How to get that great idea ...

Vancouver-based children’s apparel brand sold to Utah investor

Vancouver-based children’s apparel brand sold to Utah investor

Oakiwear, a children’s apparel brand headquartered in Vancouver, has been sold t...

Creatives converging on Washougal

Creatives converging on Washougal

It’s hard to say exactly when it started, but the city of Washougal has quietly ...

Technology changing the work site

Technology changing the work site

From handheld apps to 3-D maps, high-tech innovations are changing how today’s c...

Banking & Money Management

Angels bringing ideas to light

Angels bringing ideas to light

Most new businesses come to being with a great idea. How to get that great idea from concept to marketplace reality is often what separates them.

Entrepreneurs can come into business with substantial investment and savings of their own, enjoy a low overhead-quick return scenario or be completely reliant on financial help.

“When you are in a position where you get to decide if you wish to seek ou...

Education & Workforce Development

WSU Vancouver: Enhancing the business community for 25 years

WSU Vancouver: Enhancing the business community for 25 years

25 years ago, Washington State University opened its Vancouver branch on the Clark College campus. From the very beginning, the university has been closely tied to Clark County’s business community, and those partnerships have grown even stronger over the last quarter-century.

WSU-Vancouver Chancellor Emile “Mel” Netzhammer joined the campus in July 2012, and has glowing praise for the relationsh...

News Briefs

iQ, SEH honored for support of disabled employees

iQ, SEH honored for support of disabled employees

iQ Credit Union has been named the 2014 Private Small Employer of the Year by the Clark County Developmental Disabilities Advisory Board and Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, the organizations named SEH America the Private Large Employer of the Year and Marshall Community Center the Public Employer of the Year.

Spotlight

Dynamic Events finds success in service & technology solutions

Dynamic Events finds success in service & technology solutions

When you attend a conference or a large corporate event, you might assume that the registration process will be smooth, dinner will be served on time, and the speakers’ presentations will work flawlessly. But Allison Magyar, president of Dynamic Events, doesn’t take any of these details for granted.

“We provide complete meeting and event management and software, plus registration services and gra...

School of tech

MAP program seeks to bolster ranks of advanced placement classrooms in Clark County high schools

Recent findings by the Trans International Mathematics and Science Study revealed the United States ranks 15th in the world for high school-level math and dead last in physics. Also, the National Science Foundation reports the U.S. is last in line for engineering, producing 60,000 engineering graduates each year. China is on top, producing 220,000. The report puts the U.S. at the bottom of a list that includes the major nations in both Europe and Asia.

MAP program seeks to bolster ranks of advanced placement classrooms in Clark County high schools

Recent findings by the Trans International Mathematics and Science Study revealed the United States ranks 15th in the world for high school-level math and dead last in physics. Also, the National Science Foundation reports the U.S. is last in line for engineering, producing 60,000 engineering graduates each year. China is on top, producing 220,000. The report puts the U.S. at the bottom of a list that includes the major nations in both Europe and Asia.

These trends are impacting Northwest technology companies.

Scott Keeney, president and CEO of Vancouver-based semiconductor diode laser manufacturer nLight Photonics, and some of his employees decided last year to take steps to change the statistics. The result is the Mentoring Advanced Placement program, a volunteer operation that brings technology professionals into contact with students at Clark County high schools in an effort to tutor, challenge and advise them as they consider applying for advanced placement coursework in math and science.

In founding the program, nLight partnered with the Southwest Washington Workforce Development Council; the Vancouver, Washougal, Camas and Evergreen school districts; and Educational Service District 112. SWWDC Project Manager Brandi Stewart-Wood said participating in the program made perfect sense to her organization.

"We are always looking for ways to link the business community with the educational community," Stewart-Wood said. "(MAP) aligns with making sure our local workforce is competitive."

Stewart said the first year for the program was about just getting the framework together.

In the first year, school districts participated through in-kind donations. This year, they’re paying to participate – the result of efforts from the MAP Board of Directors. Districts pay a percentage based on student population, and together schools have generated $60,000 for this year’s program. The funding has allowed MAP to purchase supplies, conduct mailings and plan events as well as hire one full time employee to conduct outreach and generate support.

MAP volunteers dedicate 45 hours per year to working with students on problem solving, project development, preparation for AP placement exams and advising on career path decisions. Students also take field trips to tech companies to get hands-on experience. The goal of MAP is to get more kids involved in technology-focused studies. It seems to be working; the program began last year with 25 students enrolled and nLight alone providing seven mentors. This year more than 25 mentors from nLight, Sharp Microelectronics, Underwriters Laboratories, Hewlett Packard and law firm Kreiger IP work with more than 100 kids at 10 high schools.

Driving it home

On a more basic level, MAP mentors help students make a connection between the classroom and the work world.

"Students just don’t have a good sense of the connection between what they’re learning and how it applies to the real world," Keeney said.

Skyview High School physics teacher Carol Ramsey has nine students enrolled in the MAP program, and hosts nLight senior scientist and project manager Shabbir Bashar as a mentor.

"I have found that the kids get into problems more when Shabbir explains how he uses the subject in his work," she said.

Bashar, who holds a Ph.D. in electrical and electronics engineering from Kings College in London and spent his toddler years taking telephone sets apart, spends one hour in the classroom twice a month as part of his volunteer work. He said he is excited to be working with students that have similar interests.

"It’s great to be working with minds that haven’t been contaminated yet by university training," he said.

Bashar said the students he mentors range from the serious college-bound to kids who are just curious, to the ones who spend their free time solving complex mathematical problems.

More important than knowledge

In terms of real world applications, Bashar sees promise in even the most imaginative ideas from the students.

"There’s this one guy who’s really into Star Wars," Bashar said. "He wants to go out and make a holographic projection of Princess Leia."

Bashar said such ideas are at the core of the MAP program.

"It’s all about taking a wild idea and helping to develop it into a real application, rather than just dismissing it," he said. "(The Princess Leia hologram) sounded to me like a Ph.D. project."

Bashar said a holographic projection could have real world applications for conference calls or even to help the medical profession, allowing surgeons to view an operation in three dimensions half a world away.

"It’s very exciting," Bashar said, "he’s just taking it to a new level."

The Map program also gives way to more practical projects. Two students in Ramsey’s class hope to develop a machine that would clean the transparencies on overhead projectors.

"I have two kids who noticed that I spend 40 minutes a day cleaning those transparencies by hand," she said. "They actually did market research and cost analyses with other teachers and determined they could sell their invention. I know I would buy one."

Expanding universe

While the program started with mentors in physics alone, it has branched out to include chemistry as well. Karina Wagner is a safety compliance engineer with Camas-based Underwriters Laboratories. She brings her experience and a degree in chemical engineering from the University of California, Davis, to work with six students in Megan Botnen’s AP chemistry class at Skyview. She’s one of three mentors from the product safety compliance testing firm.

"They just seem to really be having a lot of fun with it," she said of the students.

In addition to classroom participation, MAP mentors also help students to network with great minds outside their school and develop their projects well into college. Skyview senior Nick Ewing wants to develop software that would translate Japanese to English. Bashar is working to put him in contact with a software engineer and a Japanese linguist, two friends of his from college.

"This is just another way we try to help the students," he said. "We try to use our connections to help them develop their ideas."

The MAP program plans to expand to include college students next year, sending mentors to Washington State University Vancouver. Stewart said the program has also applied to the state for nonprofit status and there are plans to write grants for future operation.

"Applied learning is a very powerful tool," Stewart-Wood said. "The WDC would some day like to see mentoring in every high school classroom."

Opinion

Focus Column

Now is the time for apprenticeships

Now is the time for apprenticeships

There is much talk of the “skills gap” – the widening space between the technical skills that employers need and the ski...

Towne Square project is a win for the local workforce

Towne Square project is a win for the local workforce

Our economy continues in fits and starts to recover. Workers struggle to find employment providing a living wage. Famili...

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