During the 19th and early 20th centuries, Springfield was a center of innovation in technology and manufacturing. Today Springfield is a great place to ask “what’s next”? 

Funded by the National Science Foundation under the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), Futurescape City Tours are interactive, community engagement projects where participants explore how new technologies could change their city and their lives in the near future. Springfield is one of six cities, including St.Paul, MN; Portland, OR; Phoenix,AZ; Edmonton, Alberta; and Washington, D.C., hosting engagements in which local residents, stakeholders, scientists and engineers tour their neighborhoods and talk about how new technologies like nanotechnology may change buildings, transportation, food, healthcare, energy use and more.

Join us for an Exhibition and Opening Reception of photographs and material artifacts from the Springfield tour. Thursday, December 12, 5:30-8:30PM at the UMass Design Center @ Court Square, Springfield, MA

Highlights of the exhibit include:

  • Comments from representatives from the citizen panel
  • Images of our meeting with U.S Representative Richard Neal
  • A slideshow with images taken during the tour, and from the other FCT locations
  • Images and captions that represent the past, present and future of technology in Springfield
  • Artful images of nanotechnology, curated by Cathy Russell, Program Manager of the Ventures in Science Using Art Laboratory (VISUAL) of the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC), UMass
  • A mini “makers space,” where people can have a chance to tinker with and share hands on engineering projects
  • Complimentary light refreshments will also be served
The University of Massachusetts Amherst hosted the event in partnership with the Loka Institute for Science and Technology and the Center for Nanotechnology and Society at Arizona State University. Futurescape City tours rely on a set of methods that feature citizen-driven agendas, the importance of place and materiality, the relevance of multiple timescapes, and the use of photography as a tool for deliberation. The group visited the Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History, the Springfield Data Center, the Roger L. Putnam Vocational Technical AcademyIndian Orchard Mills that houses the Geek Group of Western Massachusetts

We met with professionals, scientists and engineers at each location including U.S. Representative Richard Neal, Daniel LaDuke Energy Engineer for Conservation and Load Management at the Western Massachusetts Electric Company; Carolyn Hart Lucien of the Pioneer Valley Transit AuthorityKen Carter of the UMass Amherst polymer science and engineering department and Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) to learn about research in nanotechnology self assembly and roll to roll processing; and Nikhil Malvankar, a postdoctoral research associate at UMass Amherst in Derek Lovely's Microbiology Lab, to learn about new bioenergy research associated with the Geobacter bacteria, and Guy McLain, Director of the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History.

FCT involves students in a new graduate-level research methods course supported by a UMass Community Engagement and Service-Learning Fellowship: Participatory Digital and Visual Research Methods that is taught by Krista Harper (Anthropology and Center for Public Policy and Administration [CPPA]) and Gretchen Gano (Science, Technology, and Society Initiative, CPPA).

You can also view an information sheet about the project & sponsors as well as a copy of the tour guidebook

About the VISUAL photography:

VISUAL (Ventures in Science Using Art Laboratory) is an outreach program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst based on the premise that the visual arts provide an effective means to educate and stimulate the general public as well as students of all ages on the importance of scientific research in our everyday lives.  Each captivating image is a direct experimental result from research conducted on the Amherst campus or at our partner institutions.  As a Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, we share the vision of our sponsor, the National Science Foundation, to find ways to reach the American public and to educate students on the importance of science.  By building on the synergy between art and science, VISUAL provides a unique avenue by which both disciplines can be promoted, appreciated, and enriched. 

Project links and affiliate information: 

Springfield Project Contacts

Gretchen Gano
Science Technology and Society Initiative
Center for Public Policy and Administration
University of Massachusetts - Amherst

Krista Harper
Associate Professor
Director, European Field Studies Program
Department of Anthropology
and the Center for Public Policy and Administration
University of Massachusetts - Amherst