Program for students completes project at Applejack Stadium

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MANCHESTER — A paid, after-school apprenticeship program for high school students that launched this summer completed its first major project recently: an automated video streaming system at Applejack Stadium.

The Pixellot S2 system, the first of its kind deployed in Vermont, autonomously captures high-resolution footage of sporting events at the field, using artificial intelligence to predict and follow the action. Games are archived and made available to watch at any time on the stadium's website, which already features high school and college soccer matches from the past two months.

Mike Cole, of Bondville, a retired salesman of engineering-related software and services who created the apprenticeship program, named Vermont STEMcorps, oversaw a team of two students on the pilot project: Emmett Stahl, now a senior at Burr and Burton Academy, and Liam Murphy, who graduated in May from Long Trail School.

The group was awarded a $2,000 contract by the Town of Manchester for the work of selecting, installing and activating the system at the town-owned facility.

Town Manager John O'Keefe said the project team "delivered exactly what they promised" in a timely fashion.

Murphy, 18, now a college student at the Rochester Institute of Technology, described the work as intensive but satisfying.

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Cole said he plans to spend this fall recruiting new students and mentors — adults with career experience in fields involving science, technology, engineering or mathematics — to participate in the program's spring semester, which starts in January. Mentors will be offered part-time employment and receive health insurance benefits, which Cole believes will appeal to people who have retired but are not yet old enough to qualify for Medicare.

The outreach work also includes contacting possible clients in an effort to secure projects for teams of students and mentors, according to Cole. Although the projects will depend on the local businesses' needs, they likely will likely involve the development of software and electronics hardware, he said.

Cole is investigating the possibility of positioning Vermont STEMcorps as a kind of precursor to the Vermont Department of Labor's Registered Apprenticeship Program that would garner participants college credits.

The state's Artificial Intelligence Task Force, an entity created by the Vermont Legislature, has scheduled a 5 p.m. meeting on Oct. 10 at Dana L. Thompson Memorial Park, where Applejack Stadium is located. Ryan Flanagan, an administrative coordinator with the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, said the task force will be "open to any public comment about the AI-based streaming system, accepting any questions or testimony from the public" at the meeting.

More information about Vermont STEMcorps is available on its website, www.vermontstemcorps.com.

Contact Luke Nathan at lnathan@benningtonbanner.com.


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