Faculty

By Maegan Murray

RICHLAND, Wash. – Washington State University Tri-Cities alumnus Geoff Schramm never thought he would go to college.

Coming from a family where no one before him in his family had gone to college, he said it was sort of a family tradition that he goes straight into the workforce after high school.

Geoff Schramm presents during first-generation student celebration event

WSU Tri-Cities alumnus and instructor talks with students about being a first-generation, non-traditional student during a first-generation celebration event on campus.

“That’s just what you did in my family,” he said. “I didn’t have a blueprint for college or someone that could tell me about the experience. In some odd way, I felt it wasn’t for me when I was young.”

However, when the recession hit in 2008, he started thinking more about his future and the uncertainty that detailed the availability of jobs that were opened to him without an undergraduate degree. That same year, he applied to Washington State University Tri-Cities, got in, but couldn’t muster up the courage to start his classes. Then in January 2011, with his wife’s hand in his, he walked up the entrance steps to campus to begin his first semester at WSU Tri-Cities.

As the first person in his family to attend college, the beginning of this new college process was daunting. Often times, he said he didn’t feel he was smart enough. But through getting involved with campus programming, student clubs and especially through the development of professional relationships with faculty and staff, he said he found his place and really excelled in school.

“I decided to really submit and give myself to the process,” he said. “Once I started to do that and get involved with things on campus, everything changed.”

Finding his feet

While going to school, Schramm worked in the career development office as a career coach and then as a student mentor. He was also involved with several student clubs and served as a member of TRIO, which provides support services for students who are first-generation, disabled or economically disadvantaged.

Meanwhile, Schramm worked heavily with his environmental science faculty mentors to get a grasp of his school work, learning everything he could about his future field. Those same individuals then helped him connect with external professional learning opportunities that paired directly with his coursework.

WSU Tri-Cities alumnus Geoff Schramm hugs professor Dick Pratt following receiving his diploma last spring.

WSU Tri-Cities alumnus Geoff Schramm hugs professor and mentor, Dick Pratt, following receiving his master’s diploma last spring.

As an undergraduate student, Schramm completed a number of internships in his academic field. His first was with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which was followed with an internship with Mission Support Alliance doing biological monitoring. He also did a six-month internship with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

As his combined school and career participation grew, so did his confidence, he said.

“I realized you may not get a degree because you’re smarter,” he said. “You can achieve a degree because you’re persistent enough to see yourself excel and you see it through. You have to put yourself out there and take opportunities as they come. I grew as a person mainly because I put myself out there.”

Prior to the end of his senior year, he decided to pursue a master’s program in environmental science. Through this opportunity and combined with his regular courses, he got the chance to teach several undergraduate lab courses, which opened his eyes to his love for teaching. He spent the past several summers helping instruct science courses for middle and high school students. He also completed an additional internship, this time with CH2M.

After graduating with his master’s in environmental science last spring, Schramm now works for Washington River Protection Solutions as an environmental quality lead. In addition to his full-time position, and as a way to give back to his time at WSU Tri-Cities, he also continues to teach science courses at the university.

Inspiring a new generation of college graduates

As he looks back on his college years, he said they were the ones that really prepared him for the best version of his professional self that he could be.

“I love being here,” he said of WSU Tri-Cities. “It was hard for me to leave as a student because I did see this place and the people here as family. The personal gratification that I felt through this place, which helped me reach my own desires, dreams and aspirations, stays with me.”

Geoff Schramm presents during the first-generation student celebration event at WSU Tri-Cities

Geoff Schramm presents during the first-generation student celebration event at WSU Tri-Cities.

Schramm said he now hopes to inspire in his children, as well as other men and women, to achieve their own aspirations through obtaining a college education. He asked his son recently if he was thinking about college.

“Heck yeah, I think about college all the time,” his son replied.

“I hope to build a legacy for my family and show them that education is important, life-long learning is important and giving back is important,” he said. “Hopefully through this experience, I’m giving them that.”

Preliminary research to be scaled into larger effort analyzing trends in wine industry entrepreneurship

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – From renowned winemaking regions to those that aren’t typically known for winemaking, business faculty from Washington State University Tri-Cities are studying why people start wineries in locations across the United States.

VineyardWine is currently made in every state in the nation; however, there are wineries located in regions that may not be suitable for grape growing or that don’t have a heavy foundation in wine entrepreneurship, said Rhonda Hammond, WSU Tri-Cities assistant professor of hospitality business and wine beverage business management.

Study examines winemakers’ motivations

“There is a gap in data regarding entrepreneurship in the wine industry,” Hammond said. “There hasn’t been a lot of research conducted on wine entrepreneurship in the United States. Not all winemakers are established in the places best for winemaking.”

Hammond, Byron Marlowe, clinical assistant professor and wine and beverage business management program coordinator, and Paul Skilton, associate professor of management, want to understand winemakers’ motivations and analyze major themes in entrepreneurship for wineries across the industry

In spring 2017, the researchers examined 307 U.S. wineries and vineyards as identified by Wine America, the national association of American wineries. They analyzed web and other digital media information to determine why wine makers chose various winery locations, and to see if location impacted success.

Location familiarity may trump best growing climate 

Hammond said their initial research indicates some winery owners, especially for those in regions that aren’t known for wine, may have sought out locations based on familiarity, regardless of whether the region’s soil, atmosphere, reputation and other conditions were conducive for winemaking. Others may import their fruit juice from other locations, she said.

“If people are already familiar with a place, then it makes it easier for them to be aware of opportunities and feel more comfortable starting a business in that location,” she said. “Some may also be able to import grape juice. Just because they may not be able to grow the grapes there, doesn’t mean they won’t be able to get the juice to produce wine.”

Hammond said wineries located in climates unsuitable for grape growing may also make wine with other fruits.

“The definition of wine is fermented fruit juice,” Hammond said “Hawaii, for example, is making pineapple wine. With the ability to transport juices, winemakers can utilize materials from other regions.”

The researchers plan to expand their research into a more extensive study where they will reach out to wineries across the country to assemble in-depth information about the wineries’ beginnings.

“We are hoping this can give us some direction and hopefully turn into something much bigger for the betterment of the wine industry,” Hammond said.

amazon catalyst + wsu logos

PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University announces the launch of a collaborative program with Amazon titled Amazon Catalyst — a successful innovation grant program.

Amazon will provide up to $300,000 to WSU to launch the initiative, providing funding and mentorship to support bold, globally impactful and disruptive projects proposed by members of the university community. The Amazon Catalyst program will support the expansion of the entrepreneurial ecosystem across the WSU system.

Grants will be available to students, staff and faculty across all of WSU’s campuses, colleges, research stations and extension offices located throughout the state. The grants can be awarded in any field, including the humanities, engineering, physical and life sciences, and the arts. Grant recipients also will join the Amazon Catalyst Fellows, a collaborative community of individuals who share a passion for building solutions to solve complex problems. The grants reward creativity, scholarship, and innovation for devices, products, processes and services.

Amazon first launched Amazon Catalyst at the University of Washington in 2015. In the program’s first two years it funded dozens of projects, ranging from self-cleaning solar panels to eco-friendly self-driving bikes, that tackle difficult challenges.

“We’re excited to bring the Amazon Catalyst program to WSU and to stimulate innovation and entrepreneurial spirit across the entire state of Washington,” said H.B. Siegel, director of engineering at Amazon Web Services, Inc.

Keane Christopher-
Keane

“As the state’s research land grant institution, with a mission of supporting and creating innovation that drives the economy of the state of Washington, we are thrilled to have the Amazon Catalyst program at WSU,” said Chris Keane, the university’s vice president of research. “Thousands of exciting ideas are generated across our campuses each year. This program will bring much-needed resources to help translate those ideas into successful endeavors.”

Amazon Catalyst projects must address a key problem faced in the world today. Problems can be diverse and focus on a variety of topics from computer security to immigration to healthcare. Given the complex nature of these issues, the solutions may come from different fields and perspectives. Therefore, grants are open to all members of the university community.

The Amazon Catalyst grant application process kicks off in the fall of 2017, and grants are scheduled to be awarded in early 2018.

For more information see https://catalyst.amazon.com/wsu

 

Media Contacts:

  • Ann Goos, director for public affairs, WSU, 206-465-5136, ann.goos@wsu.edu
  • Brian Kraft, WSU Office of Research, 509-335-3959, bkraft@wsu.edu
  • Marie Mayes, WSU Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, 509-335-5628, mmayes@wsu.edu