On Monday, 3.14, the ReadyTalk engineering department held its 3rd annual Pi Day Competition.
For those of you that don’t know, Pi Day (or π Day) is a well known holiday (well known by most geeks anyway) that celebrates the mathematical constant π, and is observed each year on March 14th.
Pi Day at ReadyTalk
For the past three years, the ReadyTalk engineering department has been honoring this holiday by holding a design competition based on the Raspberry Pi microcomputer (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raspberry_Pi).
This event started in 2014 as a way for ReadyTalk engineers to celebrate Pi Day and hack on some cool technology. In order to encourage as much creativity and innovation as possible, we decided not to require the projects to be business related. The only stipulation was that the project be built on a Raspberry Pi.
Participating engineers (or team of engineers) are supplied with the following:
- a Raspberry Pi microcomputer
- $25 per team
The individuals or teams are then tasked with coming up with a project idea, designing it, building it, and finally demo-ing the project to the rest of the company on March 14th. Although the engineers are allowed to work on their projects outside of the office all they want, they are only given the final 12 business hours before the presentations begin to finalize their projects. This means that walking around the ReadyTalk office on the days leading up to Pi Day, you may encounter any number of robots, autonomous vehicles, home automation devices, or any other piece of crazy technology that the ReadyTalk engineers can dream up.
This event has been a good way for our engineers to test out different technologies, show off some of their skills, and have some fun with their coworkers. ReadyTalk Pi Day has turned into something that the entire company looks forward to each year. The designs continue to get more and more creative, and the level of participation continues to grow. In 2014, we had about 35% of the engineering department participate, and it has grown each year, with a little over 50% of the department participating this year.
On Monday afternoon, ReadyTalk employees gathered in the ReadyTalk Nerd Lounge to enjoy a beer, have some pie and watch some cool demos. Once the demos were complete, the audience voted for their favorite project, and the winner was awarded the coveted ReadyTalk Pi Day Trophy (the trophy itself is a Raspberry Pi that continually calculates the value of π, and was actually a Pi Day project itself, two years ago).
This year, the team that took home the trophy was Team Bender, with Pete Winterscheidt and Brad Beeler. They created a robotic bartender, similar to the Bartendro Kickstarter Project. However, they decided to source their own pumps and adapt the open source software for a more cost-efficient alternative. With six pumps, Bender can make about 720 different drinks. But it doesn’t stop there – the real differentiator for the robotic bartender is that it can also be voice-controlled using its Amazon Alexa integration.
How did you celebrate Pi Day this year?