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Internet Speeds Springfield Development Prospects

July 16, 2013 in Community Development, Makers by Jen

Fellows Gear Shaper building, built in 1896, now features state of the art fiber optic internet

Fellows Gear Shaper building, built in 1896, now features state of the art fiber optic internet

We have been extolling the connections Springfield has to emerging tech fields and the huge potential of this area to tap into the rich history of innovation.

Today, Bernie Sanders released two articles related to Springfield and technological advances that will help spur economic development in this area.

The first focuses on the availability of ‘Ultra Fast Internet’ and it’s potential impact on the region.

An excerpt from Bernie Sanders:

Ultra-Fast Internet Speeds Give Springfield a Boost Share

This July 15, 2013 Bob Flint, the executive director of the Springfield Regional Development Corp., is hoping to persuade people from out of state to move their businesses to Springfield, Vt. The lure: ultra-fast Internet speeds that are on par with the world’s fastest connections. Springfield was a national manufacturing center for the tool and die industry.

In recent decades, with the industry in decline, thousands of good-paying manufacturing jobs left the city. Now, an infusion of federal stimulus funds has brought some of the fastest Internet connections anywhere in the world to the Springfield area. The ultra-fast connections are generating enthusiasm for the economic rebirth of the region. “I‘m from here. I grew up here. I was here when things were going strong,” Flint said. “I care about this town. I believe in it. It’s a frequently-asked question down here: We were the machine tool capital of the world, what are we going to be?” Thanks to the federally-funded project, an answer to that question is emerging.

The state-of-the-art fiber optic service being rolled out boasts speeds of up to 1 gigabyte per second— something unmatched in the United States except by a pilot project by Google in Kansas City. That’s 100 times faster than the average Internet speeds commonly available now. The ultra-fast Internet speed offers the power to dramatically change how we think about education, health care, and business. The super-fast connections will provide Vermonters with better health care, educational opportunities, and the opportunities to build businesses and create jobs. Aside from Springfield, its 13 neighboring towns — Saxons River, Chester, North Springfield, Grafton, Bridgewater, Cuttingsville, Wallingford, Hartland, Killington, Pawlet, Danby, Mt. Holly, Middletown Springs – will be equipped with state of the art connections. Through a separate federal stimulus award, Waitsfield, Vt., will also be equipped with bolstered broadband connections. “Springfield is an example of how a federal, state, local and private partnership can significantly upgrade our infrastructure. The goal now is to use this resource to attract business and create good-paying jobs,” Sen. Bernie Sanders said. “Vermont may be on the verge of reaping enormous dividends from this historic investment in our future.”

[Read the rest of the story at Bernie Sanders' site]

The second article released by Sander’s today delves into the specific implications for access to information, particularly the opportunities for libraries, schools, and health centers.

It’s an exciting time in Springfield and we are looking forward to what develops next.

For other articles about technology and Springfield:


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Tech Students Become Adobe Certified

July 11, 2013 in Community Development, Makers, Youth & Education by Jen

Multi-media and visual communication skills are important for web applications and technology development. Visual communication is a multi-disciplinary field encompassing graphic design, illustration, fine arts (like drawing and painting), and photography.

A global leader in multi-media development is Adobe, offering some of the most used tools for digital marketing and digital media services. With $4.4 billion in sales in 2012, their place in the evolution of online and digital services is almost certain. If you look, you are likely to see their products in websites, smartphones, tablets, televisions, and more.

As such, it’s probably safe to say that having skills and experience using Adobe products could prove valuable to those seeking careers in related fields. Having certification, along with a well-rounded portfolio, is even better, especially as you begin a new career.

This month, three RVTC students have taken steps to ensure they stand out from the crowd by becoming Adobe Certified Associates.

  • Alex DeWitt earned certification in Photoshop CS6
  • Wayna Zhang Manning earned certification in Adobe Dreamweaver CS6
  • Jordan D. Plaisted earned certification in Photoshop CS6 and Dreamweaver CS6
RVTC Tech Essential Students earn Adobe Certifications

RVTC students Alex DeWitt, Wayna Zhang Manning, Jordan Plaisted

About Adobe Certified Associate certification

The Adobe Certified Associate (ACA) certification indicates proficiency in Adobe digital communications tools.  Having  Nationally Recognized Industry Credentials can help students stand out in the job market, providing a clear way to demonstrate proficiency.

Adobe conducted research to identify the foundational skills students need to effectively communicate using digital media tools. Based on feedback from educators, design professionals, businesses, and educational institutions around the world, the objectives cover entry-level skill expectations for visual communication.

Following are the specific objectives and skills required to pass the certifications, from the website:

Adobe Visual Communication using Photoshop CS6 objectives

Setting Project Requirements
  1. Identify the purpose, audience, and audience needs for preparing image(s).
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of standard copyright rules for images and image use.
  3. Demonstrate knowledge of project management tasks and responsibilities.
  4. Communicate with others (such as peers and clients) about design plans.
Identifying Design Elements When Preparing Images
  1. Demonstrate knowledge of image resolution, image size, and image file format for web, video, and print.
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of design principles, elements, and image composition.
  3. Demonstrate knowledge of typography.
  4. Demonstrate knowledge of color correction using Photoshop CS6.
  5. Demonstrate knowledge of image-generating devices, their resulting image types, and how to access resulting images in Photoshop.
  6. Understand key terminology of digital images.
Understanding Adobe Photoshop CS6
  1. Identify elements of the Photoshop CS6 user interface and demonstrate knowledge of their functions.
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of layers and masks.
  3. Demonstrate knowledge of importing, exporting, organizing, and saving.
  4. Demonstrate knowledge of producing and reusing images.
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of and select the appropriate features and options required to implement a color management workflow.
Manipulating Images by Using Adobe Photoshop CS6
  1. Demonstrate knowledge of working with selections.
  2. Use Photoshop guides and rulers.
  3. Transform images.
  4. Adjust or correct the tonal range, color, or distortions of an image.
  5. Demonstrate knowledge of retouching and blending images.
  6. Demonstrate knowledge of type.
  7. Demonstrate knowledge of filters.
Publishing Digital Images by Using Adobe Photoshop CS6
  1. Demonstrate knowledge of preparing images for web, print, and video.

Adobe Web Communication using Dreamweaver CS6 objectives

Setting Project Requirements
  1. Identify the purpose, audience, and audience needs for a website.
  2. Identify web page content that is relevant to the website purpose and appropriate for the target audience.
  3. Demonstrate knowledge of standard copyright rules (related terms, obtaining permission, and citing copyrighted material).
  4. Demonstrate knowledge of website accessibility standards that address the needs of people with visual and motor impairments.
  5. Make website development decisions based on your analysis and interpretation of design specifications.
  6. Understand project management tasks and responsibilities.
Planning Site Design and Page Layout
  1. Demonstrate general and Dreamweaver-specific knowledge of best practices for designing a website, such as maintaining consistency, separating content from design, using standard fonts, and utilizing visual hierarchy.
  2. Produce website designs that work equally well on various operating systems, browser versions/configurations, and devices.
  3. Demonstrate knowledge of page layout design concepts and principles.
  4. Identify basic principles of website usability, readability, and accessibility.
  5. Demonstrate knowledge of flowcharts, storyboards, and wireframes to create web pages and a site map (site index) that maintain the planned website hierarchy.
  6. Communicate with others (such as peers and clients) about design plans.
Understanding the Adobe Dreamweaver CS6 Interface
  1. Identify elements of the Dreamweaver interface.
  2. Use the Insert bar.
  3. Use the Property inspector.
  4. Use the Assets panel.
  5. Use the Files panel.
  6. Customize the workspace.
Adding Content by Using Dreamweaver CS6
  1. Demonstrate knowledge of Hypertext Markup Language.
  2. Define a Dreamweaver site.
  3. Create, title, name, and save a web page.
  4. Add text to a web page.
  5. Insert images and apply alternative text on a web page.
  6. Link web content, using hyperlinks, e-mail links, and named anchors.
  7. Include video and sound in a web page.
  8. Add animation and interactivity to content.
  9. Insert navigation bars, rollover images, and buttons created in a drawing program on a web page.
  10. Build image maps.
  11. Import tabular data to a web page.
  12. Import and display a Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel document to a web page.
  13. Create forms.
Organizing Content by Using Dreamweaver CS6
  1. Set and modify document properties.
  2. Organize web page layout with relative and absolutely positioned div tags and CSS styles.
  3. Modify text and text properties.
  4. Modify images and image properties.
  5. Create web page templates.
  6. Use basic HTML tags to set up an HTML document, format text, add links, create tables, and build ordered and unordered lists.
  7. Add head content to make a web page visible to search engines.
  8. Use CSS to implement a reusable design.
Evaluating and Maintaining a Site by Using Dreamweaver CS6
  • Conduct technical tests.
  • Identify techniques for basic usability tests.
  • Identify methods for collecting site feedback.
  • Manage assets, links, and files for a site.
  • Publish and update site files to a remove server.

There is still space available to  local students entering 10th – 12th grade who want to learn skills in Website Development, Photoshop, Animation, and Game Development. Contact RVTC to learn more.

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Vermont Most Inventive State- and 2nd Most Entrepreneurial

July 9, 2013 in Community Development, Inspiration, Makers by Jen

Vermont Number One in Inventiveness

In what should be no surprise to the residents of Springfield, Vermont has been identified as the most inventive state in the U.S.  The Springfield area has had a strong history of inventions and innovators, often being referred to as ‘Precision Valley’ or the ‘Cradle of Inventions’.

Springfield inventions have included the Breech Loading Gun, the Steam Shovel, the Sheep Shearing Machine, and the Corn Planter. Other notable examples include:

  • Inventor Joel A.H. Ellis, who in the 1800′s made doll carriages and jointed dolls from maple wood. The dolls are now valued collectibles.
  • James Hartness and Russell Porter. The Hartness Astronomical Observatory features an equatorial tracking system that was patented in 1912.
  • David M. Smith, who invented the spring clothespin in 1853.  Proving the lasting impact of Springfield’s rich contributions to the world of innovation,  it was named a “Top 10 American Invention” in 2012.

This rich history may be one of the reasons the Inventors Network of Vermont is based in Springfield.

Today, there are 3.5 patents for every 1000 residents in Vermont. While research at UVM and IBM has certainly been a driving force for this volume, the “burgeoning food manufacturing and microbrewing industry”  is also contributing significantly.

Tops in Entrepreneurship

What might be slightly more surprising is that Vermont was also identified as the 2nd most Entrepreneurial. With 520 residents per 100,000 starting a business, Vermont is a rich breeding ground for entrepreneurs.  Venture capital networks and low-cost small business loans provide needed access to funding, and the wealth of work-life balance opportunities have been attracting technology, biotech and life science startups, according to Betsy Bishop, president of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce (money.cnn 6/20/13).

The Springfield area is no stranger to the entrepreneurial spirit. After all, it was the ability to take innovations and use them strategically to build strong industries in manufacturing and precision machining that landed Springfield a solid reputation and provided a strong economy for many years.

Moving Forward

These reports and the naming of Vermont as high-ranking for entrepreneurs and inventions is good news. It provides a glimpse into the possibilities that lie ahead.

Building on a proud history of innovation and industriousness few communities can claim, Springfield has a huge window of opportunity. With innovators like VTEL (gigabit internet), Black River Produce (with their new local meat processing facility), ImageTek, and even the Vermont Brewer’s Association, all calling Springfield home, we are well positioned to move full-throttle to the next generation of innovation and entrepreneurship. Keeping the principles of sustainability at the forefront of progress will play a key role in ensuring long-term success for individual businesses, the town, and the region.

Further Reading: See also Spring-Field of Dreams?

Vermont most inventive and among top entrepreneurial states

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SolarFest: 3 days of family-friendly entertainment, workshops, and inspiration!

July 7, 2013 in Community Development, Inspiration, Makers, Youth & Education by Jen

SolarFest- The Power of Positive Energy is a three-day festival of world-class entertainment and workshops in renewable energy, sustainability, and community engagement.

Maker Faire exhibit

Maker Faire exhibit

Mini Maker Faire

New this year is the SolarFest Mini Maker Faire. Maker Faires are a family-friendly showcase of innovation, invention, creativity, and resourcefulness. It’s an exciting way to see what people are making and share in their learning. It’s a perfect fit for anyone who appreciates Yankee ingenuity, enjoys taking things apart, or putting things together!

Live Entertainment

With a Main Stage, a Family Stage, and Off-Stage entertainment, there is something for everyone. Performers include local and regional favorites and award-winning artists, such as:

There are even more workshops to fill out the festivities. And, if that’s still not enough, the Keynote Speaker is Ben Cohen, founding partner of Ben & Jerry’s. Cohen is now President of the Stamp Stampede campaign whose goal is to get money out of politics.

About SolarFest

The SolarFest was started nineteen years ago as a festival showcasing the power and possibility of Solar Energy. It continues today as a non-profit organization with a simple mission: SolarFest blends art, education, and outreach to inspire conservation, promote renewable energy, and support sustainable communities. Through our steadfast commitment to education, arts and community outreach, SolarFest, Inc. teaches and demonstrates the power and sensibilities of renewable energy and sustainable living at conferences, performances and venues throughout the year.

As the Northeast’s premier energy and music festival, SolarFest blends art, education, and community outreach to inspire the conservation of Earth’s limited resources, to promote renewable energy, and to support the creation of sustainable communities.

Living what they believe, the entire weekend festival, including sound and lights, runs on renewable energy: mostly solar with a little wind.

SolarFest combines superb family entertainment with presentations by some of the region’s most knowledgeable Renewable Energy experts. Workshops on green building and sustainable agriculture are balanced with a series designed especially for young people called The Solar Generation. There is also a special children’s activity area (Kids Korner).

Tickets remain affordable and include all the workshops and entertainment: Children under 14 are FREE; one day passes are $15, and full weekend passes are $39. On-site camping is available.

Plenty of space is provided throughout the weekend for serendipitous encounters, conversation, dancing, hiking, camping, relaxation, and an overall celebration of our planet’s beauty.

Learn more at their website- and perhaps we’ll see you there.

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Spring-Field of Dreams?

July 1, 2013 in Community Development, Makers by Jen

“If you build it, they will come”- a popular and inspiring line from the 1989 classic Field of Dreams. But, can the same notion be carried over into business and small towns struggling to bring new jobs and industry?

According to H. Brevy Cannon,  University of Virginia ,and Joyce Smaragdis, Batten Institute, U.Va.’s Darden School of Business  in their Forbes article, “The Next Silicon Valley? Small Town America.” (4/9/13), it is exactly what is happening. In fact, they state that it is the ‘build it and they will come’ notion that is capturing the attention of entrepreneurs of all ages.

The article goes on to describe some of the success factors of Silicon Valley and other regions that have become dynamic business incubators. They identify “having at least one major university, a strongly affiliated industry group, access to human capital, and a major catalyst or company which creates new markets and opportunities for other entrepreneurs” as the keys to success.

We wondered how Springfield would stack up- do we have these key ingredients for success?

  • Major University: Well, we certainly don’t have a major university here. Or do we? The Howard Dean Education Center partners with leading institutes throughout Vermont to bring opportunities to this community. Educational Partners include University of Vermont, Johnson State College, and Vermont State Colleges.  A definite asset to the area.
  • Strongly Affiliated Industry Group: There is a surprisingly strong affiliation in this town and region to the Maker MovemeSpringfield Vt logont- even before it was popular and had a cool name. If you aren’t familiar with this movement, it is worth checking out, and is a topic we will continue to cover regularly. Basically, it combines many aspects of the ‘geek revolution’, inventions, technology, DIY, and creators of all kinds. It is a shift in manufacturing that could provide Springfield a forward-facing stronghold for entrepreneurial incubation and growth.
  • Access to Human Capital: We have people. Hard-working, motivated people. There is potential to create a community for thriving entrepreneurial ventures that taps into all of our talents. This region offers many amenities that are attractive to those raising families and could become a major source for attracting new businesses and entrepreneurs.
  • A Major Catalyst: There have been many catalysts for change here. VTEL’s expansion of high-speed broadband is a major catalyst. It helps position Springfield as a center for high-tech entrepreneurs.  The redevelopment of 100 River Street is a catalyst. This new platform,  ( is a catalyst- offering new ways to engage community members and organizations, to focus on and build on our assets as a community.  There is a resurgence of energy permeating the town that is uniting groups and individuals. Together, we can be the change we want to see.

So, what are the next steps to tap into all this potential? The Forbes article continues:

Whether a small town entrepreneur with a big idea, or a major corporation launching a new business line or offshoot – finding the courage to jump into the uncharted waters of a start-up venture is daunting. Risk-averse cultures – whether corporate, university or community-based – have difficulty accepting that failure is part of the innovation process, a fact of life for fast-moving Silicon Valley companies which have learned to pivot fast and often.

The University of Virginia and other leading universities are making a concerted effort to build entrepreneurial ecosystems and programs that provide students and faculty the academic foundation, practical tools, and opportunities to cross-collaborate, with the understanding that great ideas are not created in isolation, and great businesses are inherently multi-disciplinary.

Perhaps we can take a note from the successes of these universities and Silicon Valley and become the “Spring-Field of Dreams”. The foundations are being laid, groups are working together, and we are ready to take it to the next level to become a hot-bed for the Makers, the shakers, and the Entrepreneurial Risk-Takers.