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    GWATA hosted the 2017 Innovator Awards Luncheon at the Wenatchee Convention Center on March 30, 2017.  Over 350 attendees came out to see a keynote panel of entrepreneurs and hear the announcement of GWATA’s five regional awards:
    ●Entrepreneur of the Year
    ●Tech Savvy Business of the Year
    ●Future Technology Leader
    ●Problem Solving Innovator
    ●STEM Educator of the Year
    The luncheon began with Scott Paton of Arlberg Sports interviewing Jonathan Baker from eqpd, Ty Bourgeois and Paul Roberts from Lithic Skis, and Adam Krefting and Dan Hallada from CushCore. The entrepreneurs discussed everything from start-up financing to why they selected their manufacturing location. Next, GWATA recognized the 30+ businesses, educators, and students who were nominated for one of the Innovator Awards before transitioning to the announcement of the winners.
    Mission Ridge presented the Entrepreneur of the Year award to Dave Carlson of Giga Watt. Giga Watt is the world’s first state of the art combined blockchain hosting and service center.
    Jeffers, Danielson, Sonn & Aylward, P.S. presented the award for Tech Savvy Business of the Year to Pacific Aerospace and Electronics. Pacific Aerospace and Electronics employs proprietary technologies, best practices engineering, and specialized manufacturing techniques to produce electronics that perform in the world’s most extreme environments. Ed Phinney accepted the award on behalf of the company.
    Stemilt Growers presented the Future Technology Leader Award for K-12 students to Moses Lurbur of Wenatchee High School.  Moses started a tilapia fish farm his junior year. His project started because of his fascination with aquaculture and it’s ability to produce sustainable protein anywhere in the world. Moses designed, tested, and redesigned his facility over the course of a year - raising tilapia until they were ready for harvest. He harvested and served the fish as fish tacos as part of “Taste of Washington Day” at WHS. Next, Moses sought ways to expand and continue his project after he left WHS in a way that will produce year-round food. Moses redesigned his entire system with a more efficient filtration system, deeper tanks, and larger heaters and also trained a sophomore student who can lead the project going forward.
    Peoples Bank presented the Problem Solving Innovator Award for Post Secondary students to Nataliia Piestrup and Jared Harris of Wenatchee Valley College. Jared and Natalia are working together towards an understanding of how plant cells combine different DNA repair systems to successfully cope with ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Last year they began breaking open this project and presented their initial findings in July at the Idaho Conference for Undergraduate Research at Boise State University. These findings pointed to a very interesting interrelationship between multiple DNA repair systems in plant cells stressed by UV, and they are hard at work exploring this previously unknown area of science while going to WVC full time. Their work has extremely broad application throughout basic and applied plant biology, particularly with regard to modeling the responses of various kinds of crop, forest and natural ecosystems to possibly changing climates.
    GWATA presented the STEM Educator of the Year Award to Tina Nicpan-Brown of Lincoln Elementary School. Tina saw the need to expand the role of STEM educator beyond the classroom to our community. Tina and the 5th grade team at Lincoln have created and planned a comprehensive career connected learning field experience called “STEM Careers in Wenatchee”. Tina is an out-of-the-box thinker that bring an innovative and fun approach to her classroom instruction. She is always looking for new and exciting ways to engage her students in learning and creates experiences that connect them with the community.
    Videos featuring the five Innovator Award winners will be posted on the GWATA website on Monday. GWATA will also share additional content on all finalists through the GWATA website and on social media.  
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