Vancouver Business Journal

Fri01302015

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What businesses can expect this tax season

What businesses can expect this tax season

The tax man cometh – and just exactly what that means this year depends on your ...

Gold’s Gym to open in former Nordstrom space at Westfield Vancouver Mall

Gold’s Gym to open in former Nordstrom space at Westfield Vancouver Mall

Westfield Vancouver today announced the addition of Gold’s Gym, scheduled to ope...

State, local marijuana retail stores suddenly

State, local marijuana retail stores suddenly "flush with product"

Washington’s recreational marijuana business has been up and running for about s...

Top tech trends for 2015

Top tech trends for 2015

Remember when a cloud was just a puff of white or gray in the sky? A file was ma...

Port commissioners approve Northwest Packing Co. lease extension

Port commissioners approve Northwest Packing Co. lease extension

Fruit processor Northwest Packing Co. will continue to call Southwest Washington...

Trust reveals plan for Academy renovations

Trust reveals plan for Academy renovations

Although officially it won’t be a done deal until late January when escrow close...

Accounting & Finance

What businesses can expect this tax season

What businesses can expect this tax season

The tax man cometh – and just exactly what that means this year depends on your business. For some, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will bring significant ramifications. For others, capitalization and repair rules are going to be a major concern. For businesses and CPAs alike, IRS response times could cause problems. In the following paragraphs, local CPAs share their expertise with VBJ readers to h...

Education & Workforce Development

Clark College expanding new Economic & Community Development Program

Clark College expanding new Economic & Community Development Program

While managing variables of supply and demand have been part of business culture for centuries, the concept has often been lost in terms of staffing and personnel development. Clark College’s Economic and Community Development Program (formerly Corporate and Continuing Education) looks to change that.

“The program really grew out of our contract learning projects. We saw a need and opportunity to...

News Briefs

Riverview, Heritage Bank report quarterly earnings

Vancouver-based Riverview Bancorp Inc. reported this week an income of $1.1 million, or $0.05 per diluted share, in the third fiscal quarter ended December 31, 2014. This compares to an income of $801,000, or $0.04 per diluted share, in the third quarter of 2013.

Spotlight

Feasting on success

Feasting on success

Scarcely out of the shadow of their second year, Harvest owner Chef Tim McCusker has opened his second Camas-based restaurant, Feast@316. Considering 90 percent of new restaurants do not see their first anniversary, the renowned restaurant consultant is banking on his track record of culinary success.

Launching on New Year’s Eve, Feast@316, a steak and seafood house located in downtown Camas, ope...

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

Cashing in: How to plan for business succession in a recovering economy

Cashing in: How to plan for business succession in a recovering economy

When it comes to retirement in the United States, nothing hurt business owners more than the financial crisis of 2008.

R...

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...

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