Visit the Experts: Giant Eagle Corporate Vice President of Risk Management

Found this in the draft folder. A crucial part of our team’s story, I’m sorry you missed it. Now step into the time warp, and the post as it should have looked weeks ago…

Today we took a field trip to the Giant Eagle Corporate Headquarters to meet with Mike Sealy, the Vice President of Risk Management, and his senior staff. They listened and talked to use about the various facets of our presentation. They offered valuable advice, such as putting dedicated Omni-Label scanners in the grocery aisles, as well as the cash registers. They loved our idea and said they thought it would be a valuable tool in tracing recalls. Then he gave each of us a goodie bag with chocolate covered pretzels.

We later received the following email from one of Mr. Sealy’s staff members.

“Mary Beth,

I was very impressed with the Robot Project team’s presentation last week.  The depth of their research was truly on par with what I expect from college students we hire as interns.  Their ability to then work as a team to transition that research into a meaningful solution, really stood out to us.  Lastly, I can’t say enough about each individual’s presentation skills and composure.  Presenting to a group is difficult enough, without the added pressure of the audience being comprised of individuals with decades of technical experience.

I also wanted to comment on the label idea.  I am very genuine in suggesting the team explore the potential of a patent.   I must admit, I have some concern in terms of the overall application for recalls, due to the need for regulatory support to require this type of change from the current labeling process.  However, I believe there could be tremendous applicability in connection with the current push to provide customers with quick access to key nutritional information.  There are a number of systems currently showing up on tags on grocery shelves that apply numerical values relative to nutrition, or state nutritional claims.  However, there isn’t anything that I am aware of that provides the ability to personally customize the information to your individual needs.  And, I think that the growing population of health conscious consumers are more likely to want to take a few seconds to scan an item that they have questions about to ensure that it meets their needs; instead of investing the time required to fully review a nutritional panel and label to try to pull out the specific details of interest.

I wish the team luck in the contest and their future pursuits.  Although, with the skills they possess, I am certain they will make their own luck.


I think this is an awesome endorsement and will be sure to show it to the judges. Until next time! -Conlon N

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Posted by on November 29, 2011 in Food Safety, Project


All In a Day’s Work

Today we took two giant steps towards the competition day. We met with a local competitor team to compare robots and share ideas and innovations, and had a conference call with Anne Reid, Deputy Regional Food and Drug Director for the South East Region of the United States. We learned a lot, and we hope to share some of that insight here, with all of you, our loyal readers.

We met today with the Mother of Sorrows School FLL Team ‘The Robo Eagles’. They had a highly developed gear rig designed to get both the thermometer and cooking timer at the same time. I have to say, I’m jealous. It was a nice setup. I talked with Jonah, who was one of the lead engineers of the team, about some common problems facing both teams. We then, in the spirit of coopetition™, took to working on a sort of alignment tool for the cooking timer to help ensure accuracy on that mission for the Robo Eagles. It came out quite well, and just goes to show that two (dozen) heads are better than one.

Batteries Not Included and the MOSS Robo Eagles pose for a picture after a friendly competition and pizza lunch.

As another reference for our presentation, we called up Anne Reid, Deputy Director of the FDA for our region. Our group talked to her for about half an hour and presented her with an idea. She said that she loved our idea and would love to see it in operation. Mrs. Reid also talked us through the timeline of a recall, filling in some of the blanks we had even after our visit with Mrs. Isherwood a couple of weeks ago. (Anyone who missed that can read that post here).

BNI around the conference call phone.

All in all, it was a very productive day. We accomplished a lot and learned even more. We hope to see the Robo Eagles and all of you on the board this Saturday! Good luck to you, one and all. -Conlon N

For the official project reveal paragraph and exclusive photographs from our visit with Mr. Sealy (Vice President of Risk Management at the Giant Eagle Corporation), click here.

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Posted by on November 28, 2011 in Core values, Outreach


Project Teaser Posters

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Expect more on our project as the week goes on!

See you on the board!

-Conlon N

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Posted by on November 27, 2011 in Project


Raise your Table

Some advice to get you ready for competition day

  • Raise your table to countertop height. Last year we worked on the floor, then when we got to the competition, we were a little flustered to have to change. It never even occurred to us to practice at the right height.
  • Practice with the boxes you’ll use to hold your stuff, and with the pit crew tagging in and out as needed
  • Have everyone yell. It will not be quiet and calm at the competition.
  • Try different light. practice calibrating your sensors.

We are preparing for a practice session with another local team, the MOS Robo Eagles.   Looking forward to pizza with friends, and lots of good idea sharing tomorrow!

Good luck everyone.

Photosynth of our table:

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Posted by on November 27, 2011 in Competition Day


Double Bumper


Double Bumper Schematic

While brainstorming cool hardware ideas, someone mentioned a concept of two bumpers (one in front and one in back) that would both be connected to a single touch sensor. I was dubious at first, but immediately set to work on the idea. After we had a functioning base to build off of, I started by first building just your standard, everyday bumper mounted in the front of the robot, connected directly to the sensor. I then went on to create a second bumper as if there was a sensor there. In place of the sensor, I mounted a rod, which could travel through the length of the robot similar to a drive shaft. The shaft was then connected to an “L” shaped piece, mounted so that it would pivot around the middle. This would change the direction of the energy from the drive shaft to go the opposite direction, which could then be wired to the touch sensor.

The obvious side-effect here is that the robot no longer has a front and a back.

We really think the hardware judges are going to think this is cool 🙂


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Posted by on November 26, 2011 in Hardware design


Rest in Pieces, Dead Bot

We Name You DeadBot


Happy Thanksgiving To One and All,


From Batteries Not Included

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Posted by on November 24, 2011 in Hardware design


How Many Hours Have you spent so far?

Here’s a tip for you:  last year in a followup questionnaire, they asked us how many hours we spent on FLL.  We had to guess because we had no idea.  This year, we kept a list on the wall along with our schedule thermometer.  We are up to 86 hours

The Schedule Thermometer

Look at how our schedule has filled up nicely!  We are practicing our presentation, demo, skit and song and trying to get it all under 5 minutes.   The only problem is, we cannot stop laughing — it is so much fun!

We have to finish up our last robot mission, and then start practicing all five runs together, and we are nervous about our table time….. but that is what practice is for, right?

We invited another neighborhood team over for lunch on Monday after Thanksgiving and are hoping to share a lot of ideas with them. We hope they can come. It will be fun!

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Posted by on November 22, 2011 in Schedule

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