The worthiness of the mission of TechStart Education Foundation (TEF) is clear to see. We need to raise the quality of technical education in Oregon and SW Washington to support economic growth and quality of life. Board Members and the many friends of the TEF have incredible passion to fulfill this mission. Their vision for programs and coordination of resources is bounded only by one thing, restriction of funds. Joining the TEF in passion to drive improvements is a collection of technology teachers who deliver training and mentoring to other teachers. This group drives the curriculum of SuperQuest, the teaching training "camp" that teaches robotics, programming and other technology curricula. TEF is the primary funding of this training and mentoring program. Don Domes, at Hillsboro High School, epitomizes the vision and selfless dedication to drive something much bigger than themselves. Several board members and other friends have done an outstanding job of creating vision and specific messaging to promote the story of TEF. Great work has also been done to connect the structure of their most important fundraiser, UncorkED, to their mission.
TechStart (formerly the Software Association of Oregon) has to be one of the most effective, efficient non-profits in Oregon, despite its modest size. It focuses on awakening a passion for technology within Oregon students and does so largely through teacher professional development as well as student engagement programs. It fills a key, previously untended niche and leverages its industry affiliation as a supporting entity to the Software Association of Oregon. With a laser-focus on program delivery, heavy involvement of committed volunteers, and a can-do attitude, TechStart makes a substantive difference for Oregon students every day. It also represents a great blend of public and private partners, working together on behalf of Oregon students. It was a pleasure to serve this committed group.
From all-girl robotics competition teams making global impact to ESL students who accelerate their language skills to young game programmers who found a place to fit in and put their talent on the line, TechStart is sparking the curiosity, creativity and critical thinking in young students that is the key to our future technology innovation. It's evident the minute you talk to any teacher or student involved - and there are so many more demanding it that can be reached.
I've seen first-hand the results of TechStart's teacher education and student immersion offerings in the area of computer science and technology education in K-12. My son has had the opportunity to participate in statewide game programming and puzzle solving competitions, as well as participate in helping to develop new curriculum to blend discrete mathematics with computer science.
At a time when many are wondering if kids in our country have what it takes to compete in the global workplace, if they have the 21st century technology skills required to succeed, I take solice in TechStart's work in Oregon. At the Oregon Game Project Challenge (OGPC)run by TechStart, I saw firsthand in May the culimination of months of work of students that programmed games to address biohealth. Not only did they work in teams to accomplish a goal, but their energy was electric. That's the energy that TechStart can create -- the kindling of the technology fire in OR kids.