MEC’s Initiative Brings Broadband to Rural Counties

SVRTC members from thirteen divisions (Amelia, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Danville, Hopewell, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, Prince Edward, Prince George, and Sussex) were present at the first meeting of 2018-19.  The meeting included a presentation from Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative (MEC) on an initiative that will bring ultrahigh -speed fiber broadband to many rural areas over the course of three-years. This initiative was made possible through grant funding from the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission (TRRC).

Man standing in front of projection screen, presenting.
David Lipscomb, Vice President of Member and Energy Services with Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative (MEC), presents to SVRTC members

David Lipscomb, Vice President of Member and Energy Services with Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative (MEC) elaborated on the High-Speed Fiber Optic Broadband pilot program during the meeting.  He explained that MEC has plans to upgrade the telecommunications infrastructure it utilizes to provide electric distribution service to offer ultrahigh-speed fiber broadband to its members and their communities in Brunswick, Charlotte, Greensville, Halifax, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Pittsylvania, Southampton and Sussex and the North Carolina counties of Granville, Person, Northampton, Vance, and Warren. Nine of these are SVRTC divisions. Bill Wilson, Senior Technology Engineer for the SVRTC has worked closely with Mr. Lipcomb during early phases of the project to install and test the fiber optic technology that will be used during a typical home installation. Mr. Wilson stated “The Internet service of this network has far exceeded my expectations. I have tried on numerous occasions to get reliable, adequate, and affordable broadband in our area with little success. I believe we are finally seeing it become a reality.” Mr. Wilson indicated that the service he tested has provided a constant 50 Mbps in download and in upload bandwidth and that he had experienced no buffering or other video issues. “It’s delightful!” he said.

During their monthly meeting, the SVRTC stated its support of this last mile fiber optic project that will serve so many of the consortium’s members. It is expected as more and more families come on-line more and more students will benefit from the Internet they may not have had or that did not work well. More details of MEC’s high-speed broadband pilot program including pricing can be found in Mr. Lipscomb’s presentation, Empower Broadband.

VA FIRST Robotics Teams Moving Up

Quite a few FIRST Robotics teams in Southern Virginia, in particular in the SVRTC consortium, were successful in winning out over competing alliances in District and Regional events. The SVRTC wishes to recognize those teams in general and hopes to see this as the continuation of many more successful seasons. I find myself smiling and enjoying a sense of pride when I see our teams go up against teams with big sponsors like Northrop-Grumman or NASA and come out the winner. It demonstrates the talent our mentors and teachers provide each year while they are training our students to build the robots. It also attests to the character and dedication our students put forth as well. When I visit a team and see 10-20 or more students there on a Saturday working on their robot and doing so with the enthusiasm I’ve seen when they are playing video games. There are two programs I routinely watch with pride each year as their students step up and demonstrate the best behavior. They are Band and Robotics. It’s rare to take 10-100 students on long distance trips and see them answer without challenge the directions given them by their Coaches and mentors. Go to one of the competitions and watch the teams for yourself and I expect you will be amazed. It can be addictive, you know, working with the students. I know. This will be my 19th season…

The list shown below is a copy from the FIRST web site. It includes all Virginia Teams  including those that are within the SVRTC consortium area and the MBC Southside and Southwest area. You may be able to see the entire page entire page here, but if not the bulk of the seasons info can be seen here. Those numbers in Bold and Red are members of the SVRTC or the SOVA-R Alliance.

Virginia FTC Teams

3595 Schrodingers Hat
3749 Bionic Penguins
7117 Blockheads
8297 Geared Up
10358 Squatch Watch

FIRST Chesapeake FRC Teams

Table with FIRST Robotics team numbers.
The new 2019 season is just around the corner. Start making plans now to become a mentor and help your local team succeed this year, or become a volunteer at one of the events (more info here). There is room and the need for volunteers is always high. If you’re not interested in becoming a mentor and working with the students one-on-one then consider becoming a sponsor. Your local team struggles each year trying to raise additional funds to cover the cost of hotels, food, transportation, registrations, materials, tools, and the list goes on. Even small donations like $20 add up when enough people contribute. Again, check with your local high school team coach or principal for more information on how you can help out. The video below will help you get a taste of what it’s all about!

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