December 2015

Just a quick reminder that we have our December General Meeting on Tuesday, Dec 15th starting at 7pm! Bring some holiday snacks to share and enjoy:

  • Discussion on the upcoming hackathons of 2016!
  • An overview of the hover bike project Will Crowder is working on
  • More exciting news on upcoming events!

In addition to the items above, we’ll also be talking about the revised volunteer training and get feedback on proposed changes to how volunteering works. Hope to see you there!



Jeff Branson of SparkFun to Mentor and Judge, More Than $1,000 in Prizes

TROY, N.Y. (Dec. 10, 2015) — The Tech Valley Center Of Gravity (TVCOG) is inviting “hackers” from near and far to a two-day “hackathon” hardware challenge in its newly opened downtown space this winter.

The “Internet of Things Hackathon, hosted by the Tech Valley Center of Gravity and Powered by AT&T,” will take place from Saturday Jan. 30 to Sunday Jan. 31.

“Hacking has a PR problem because of a few hackers who write malicious code to spread viruses or steal data,” said Erica Rinehart Iannotti TVCOG chair. “The act of hacking is really about making something do something that it wasn’t designed for in order to solve a problem.”

A hackathon is an event, usually lasting more than a day, where groups of computer programmers and other tech-oriented people collaborate intensely on projects using software. Hackers typically stay in the space the entire time working constantly.

“Hackathons are around-the-clock intense,” Iannotti said. “They sleep here. No showers. You’re living on Red Bull, Cheetos and adrenalin. At the end of the weekend we celebrate what they’ve produced.”

There will be a top prize of at least $1,000, as well as other giveaways including a free TVCOG membership. But Iannotti says most hackers will come for the camaraderie, the excitement of competition, the good food (in addition to Cheetos) , the bragging rights and, most of all, the opportunity to mess with hardware they cant afford to own themselves.

“Most hackathons focus on software, this one will combine software, hardware and the Internet,” Iannotti said. “Teams of hackers will spend the weekend at TVCOG making software to connect physical objects to the Internet in new and interesting ways.”

Jeff Branson, educational outreach coordinator for SparkFun Electronics, will be attending the hackathon to mentor the participants and judge their creations. SparkFun Electronics is an online retailer that sells the parts to make your project a reality. SparkFun has been a champion of open-source hardware and software since 2003 and remains a committed partner for education, professional development and technological literacy. Sparkfun provides educational resources, hookup guides and project tutorials for a range of ages and abilities from kindergarten to NASA.

“Sparkfun is always thrilled to support hackathons. The value for us is in working side by side with the people in our community to develop and deploy new solutions for a digital citizenry. We participate in hackathons across the country that focus on embedded systems, Internet of Things, Node.js and community-based problem solving,” Branson said. “It’s particularly fun for me to come back to the Capital District, where I grew up, and work with TVCOG!”

Kishor Bagul, entrepreneur and former chief technology officer of New York State and TVCOG board member, will also judge in the contest.


The hackathon’s theme is The Internet of Things (IoT) which is the network of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enables these objects to collect and exchange data.

TVCOG has teamed with AT&T to power the Internet of Things Hackathon.

“As an industry leader in the Internet of Things, a technology transforming how we live, communicate and work, AT&T is proud to collaborate with the Tech Valley Center of Gravity to power this hackathon and we’re excited to see the innovation that is developed during the event,” said Marissa Shorenstein, New York president, AT&T. “Our continued investment in a robust mobile network, the backbone driving Internet of Things, as well as our activities with local organizations working to foster the resurgence of the local economy through technological innovation is evidence of our continued support of the Capital Region and the entire Tech Valley.”


Registration is required but participation is free in the Internet of Things Hackathon, hosted by the Tech Valley Center of Gravity and Powered by AT&T.

To register, visit:

Looking for a great gift for that creative innovator in your life? Wondering how to give the gift of the Tech Valley Center of Gravity and the great classes and events that are coming in 2016? After many requests, we’re finally offering gift certificates on our web site!

Gift Certificate Quick Facts:
  • Available in $25 increments
  • Can be redeemed for membership services, classes and events
  • Pick-up or USPS delivery
  • Processing time: 1-2 business days

Please contact Tom Tongue ( if you have any questions or comments about the gift certificate options!

Ok, maybe that’s a good description for life in the second week of December as a general principle, but it is definitely true that we have a fantastic assortment of opportunities this week, from making & coding to 3D design and marketing… there is something for everyone here at the Tech Valley Center of Gravity! In addition to our usual Social Night (Tuesday, Dec 8th starting at 6:30pm), here is a quick summary of the awesome on-deck:

  • Homeschool littleBits Workshop – Wednesday, Dec 9th, 1:30 – 3:30pm: A great opportunity for homeschooled kids to learn how to create and design with littleBits, a small library of easy-to-use electronic building blocks that snap together with magnets. Registration is required through Eventbrite at and there are a limited number of seats (only two left as of this writing).
  • Tech Valley Solidworks Users Group – Wednesday, Dec 9th, 5:30pm – 8:30pm: Presentations and networking on Solidworks, a leading 3D CAD and Simulation tool. Hosted in the SEFCU Community Room at the TVCOG. Please RSVP to so they have enough food and prizes!
  • Tech Valley Game Space Social Night – Wednesday, Dec 9th, 6pm – 9pm: Fun time talking about games, development and cool projects. Hosted in the TVCOG main hall. 
  • Photoshop 1 – Out of the Gate – Wednesday, Dec 9th, 6:30pm – 8pm. Learn the basics of photoshop that will form the foundation for enthusiasts and pro-users going forward. Hosted in the Board Room at the TVCOG, requires registration through Eventbrite at
  • Entrepreneur REBOOT Session – BRAND – Friday, Dec 11th, 12pm – 2pm. Part of the monthly Entrepreneur REBOOT series offered by the Capital Region Chamber of Commerce. This session is on BRAND with a real group of power players in the industry…Kelly McMurray from 2Communique, Jake Dumesnil and Tom Nardacci from Gramercy, and Duncan Crary of Duncan Crary Communications. This workshop is free to boot camp graduates and members of TVCOG. Please RSVP by emailing Janet at
  • Tech Valley Game Space: Ludum Dare 34 – Friday, Dec 11th – 7:30pm – Monday, Dec 14th, 10:30pm: The largest online game jam where participants race against time to create a game in 72 hours or less! TVGS will be working through the weekend, offering team building exercises and motivation, camaraderie and inspiration for newcomers and experienced alike to participate. Check out the calendar listing for full details!
  • THINQubator: Kids Night Out – Saturday, Dec 12th 5:30pm – 9:30pm: This event is Holiday themed. Make decorations on the laser cutter, 3D printer, with LEDs, or wood. Registration is required, and you can register through:
  • Holiday Gift Workshop: Snowman! – Saturday, Dec 12th, 6pm – 10pm: How to make a 3D printed snowman ornament. This event requires registration at
  • Holiday Gift Workshop Series – Jewelry Making – Sunday, Dec 13th, 6pm -10pm: This event is taught by Irene Purificato and will feature making jewelry as a holiday gift. Registration is required for this event through

WHEW! As usual, to learn more about the above events and ones further in the future, please consult our calendar at

Please note that our next General Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec 15th from 6pm – 8pm!

In this holiday season, there is a strong tradition of giving to each other and to charities and non-profits who work hard to sustain and grow our communities. The Tech Valley Center of Gravity is a 501c3 non-profit that focuses on growing and sustaining the innovation economy in the Capital Region, and while much of our support comes from memberships and classes, we would not be here today without the generous support of donors and sponsors. Thanks to support from SEFCU, National Grid, Empire State Development, Workforce Development Institute, Ecovative, Rensselaer County IDA and countless individuals, we have grown to offer expanded workshop, classroom, meeting and coworking spaces as well as adding a STEAM-focused kids makerspace (THINQubator) and SPECTRVM services for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

We rely on your generous support to continue offering new events, classes and workshops, as well as making our facilities accessible to the broadest possible user base. Your donation matters in the lives of thousands of young people who use the THINQubator for STEAM-related activities, learning and creative endeavors. It matters in the development of startups who aspire to grow and succeed in Tech Valley. Most of all, it matters in growing and sustaining an innovative community that is at the heart of main street revitalization and renewal.

With your tax-deductable donation, we can expand and sustain TVCOG programs and add new equipment to the workshops. This Giving Tuesday, join the global celebration of generosity by donating. Your gift to the Tech Valley Center of Gravity is one of the most meaningful ways to support the creative and innovative ecosystem of the Capital Region.

Please make your contribution today by visiting our donation page at

Wishing you the very best of this Holiday Season!

–Tom Tongue
Executive Director, Tech Valley Center of Gravity