ReadyTalk Pi Day 2017

ReadyTalk has been hosting an annual hackathon to celebrate Pi day, 3.14, for the last four years now. Long enough to go through a handful of revisions of the Raspberry Pi, and for me to go from participant, to winner, and now to organizer.

Why March 14?

For those of you who are unfamiliar, Pi is the mathematical constant 3.14, commonly used in calculations for circles. You might remember the formula for the area of a circle πr2 from a geometry class once upon a time. Since Pi is such an important constant in many areas of math and science, nerds around the world (using an American calendar) celebrate March 14, as Pi day. ReadyTalk celebrates in our own special way with a hackathon involving the aptly named Raspberry Pi computer.

Whats a Raspberry Pi?

Since it’s Pi day we thought it only fitting to use one of the best low-cost development boards out there: the Raspberry Pi. While originally designed to help teach computer skills in schools and developing countries, the Raspberry Pi found another following with hobbyists and professionals alike. Since it’s humble beginnings, the $35 computer has been quickly adopted due to its flexibility.

The Raspberry Pi made headlines in February of 2012 when it was first released, which caused the initial spark of a hackathon idea.

The Hackathon

The prompt

The way Pi day works at ReadyTalk is pretty straightforward: any engineer who wants to take part in the hackathon gets a Raspberry Pi with the stipulation that you must demo a project involving the Pi. Other than that, there are no limitations. Everyone is highly encouraged to go wild, and projects certainly don’t need to be work related.

Compared to other ReadyTalk hackathons, the freedom of Pi Day allows engineers to flex their creativity. It is typical to use this as an opportunity to learn more about interfacing with the physical world, moving things, driving displays and taking measurements of the physical world.

This year we had 36 different people sign up: the best turn out in ReadyTalk history! Ideas ranged from weather stations, robots with Watson powered AI to a reincarnation of the mechanical turk.

The schedule

Historically we have given out the Raspberry Pis as late as March, but this year we decided to start a bit earlier. The Raspberry Pis were handed out the first week of February to allow teams a lot of time to work on their projects. Two workshops were held in February covering how to interface with various pieces of hardware and how to solder. Up next is the work day of the hackathon. This Friday, March 10, we will have a full work day dedicated to Pi projects, along with food and drinks. To finishing things up on March 14, half the day is dedicated to finishing projects followed by demos and awards in the afternoon.

The impact

Pi day has become an integral part of ReadyTalk’s culture. ReadyTalkers look forward to it months in advance, planning and brainstorming projects. Successful projects are celebrated and improved years after their creation.  Pi day at ReadyTalk is how we start every year off on the right foot, with innovation and creativity. Follow us on twitter with the hashtag #RTPiDay for updates.

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Pete Winterscheidt

Pete Winterscheidt

Pete is an Associate Engineering Manager at ReadyTalk. He first joined ReadyTalk in the summer of 2008 as a Software Engineering Intern. After two summers as an intern Pete joined ReadyTalk full time in 2012. Pete is passionate about creating a great workplace through empowerment of employees and organizational creativity. Pete is a proud Colorado State University graduate with a Bachelors of Science in Computer Science and a Colorado native. When not in the office Pete can be found in the mountains, traveling the world, or entertaining friends and family.

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