GESS Dubai 2018 – Come meet us!

We are on a mission to bring the power of physical computing to the world of education and help educators from all around the world bring science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics to life. In January, the pi-topTEAM showcased our learning by making ecosystem at Bett in London and FETC in Orlando and just a few weeks ago, they were at TCEA in Austin.

In less than a week, we are packing up our mean green dream machines to GESS Dubai from the 27th of February till  the 1st of March at stand M10. The show is free to attend and CDP accredited, so if you are happen to be in Dubai , come join us! Here’s a taster of everything we’ve got planned.

Free STEAM education workshops

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Experience pi-top’s modular products and get making, innovating and inventing with them! Run by our in-house educationalists, we will explore a whole new chapter of computer science, STEAM education and learning by making.

Join us for a hands-on workshop session in a collaborative classroom setting. Learning with pi-top is about solving problems together, applying knowledge and collaborating with others. Does this sound appealing to you? There are a limited number of spaces available, book yours quickly to join us at stand M10.

pi-top stand

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The pi-top ecosystem for collaborative learning provides a transformative maker-centered learning experience. Come meet the team on stand M10 to find out how you can empower students to become collaborative, critical and creative thinkers.

In today’s increasingly interconnected world, we encourage teachers and learners to think beyond the screen and spend less solitary screen time and more collaborative ‘creative time’. We want to equip students with the necessary skills to thrive in the 21st century.

GESS Talks

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As we’ve highlighted in the pi-top magazine, we are on the precipice of what the World Economic Forum calls the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The evidence of dramatic change is all around us and it’s happening at exponential speed. Graham Brown-Martin, Learning Reimagined’s author, broadcaster and pi-top’s Chief Education Adviser, will present  on the 27th of February at 15:00 those changes and how education is at the heart of preparing present and future generations to thrive.

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On the 28th of February at 14:00 pi-top’s CEO and co-founder, Jesse Lozano, will share pi-top’s story; from his kitchen table he made to the world’s leading learning by making platform, where computer science and STEAM education are brought to life via the medium of physical computing and collaborative problem-solving. The talk will be followed by an interview with Graham Brown-Martin, and we are sure you wouldn’t want to miss!

See you soon,

pi-topTEAM

PiWars 2018 – The Building Starts

This year started with the chaos of Bett and the beginning of our robot build. Our team hit the ground running but with trips to Australia, Antigua and Brazil, we had to think hard about how to split resources to ensure time wasn’t being wasted. Especially since we were getting increasingly concerned by all the incredible tweets and blogs by our competitors! 👀

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With most of our team spending a week at ExCel for Bett, a few members decided to take the opportunity of peace and quiet office during the week to get moving with our build and made great progress getting the Max robot off the ground.

Ryan, pi-top’s CTO, made a few suggestions for our robot body to make it a bit more ‘pi-toppy’ – more on that in our next blog post – and the dev team got started on writing the code.

Check out our build video below to see the team getting started on both coding and building our robot!

Since things have settled back into normality, the excitement of our robot has caused a bit of a buzz here at pi-topHQ and we’re thrilled to be able to announce that we have a new team member joining us.

Liv accidentally found himself trying to make our robot follow a red ball and the next thing he knew, he was signed up to the team and ready to join us in Cambridge in April. Good job we had a spare bed. Meet our new team member!

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Name: Olivier ‘Liv’ Wilkinson
Role at pi-top: Software Developer
Role on the PiWars team: Senior “Trying To Fit Machine Learning Into All The Tasks” Architect
Fun Fact: This profile was written by a Deep Reinforcement Learning Algorithm
Inspirational Quote: “All your robots are belong to us”
Favourite pizza topping: Pizzas
Most likely to…: Overfit
What you’re most excited about for PiWars: (Deep) Learning Opportunities

 

With love,

pi-topTEAM

PiWars 2018 – The Unboxing…

Before Christmas, we received our amazing Max robot chassis from Brian Corteil. The plan was to use this as a test robot to get our code up and running before using components and modifying the chassis in a uniquely pi-top way.

Once we received our box of exciting hardware, we all agreed it would be great fun to film an unboxing video and thought that customer support manager, Alan, would be a great choice for this video since he has a huge passion for hardware and engineering. We also asked Matt, our Senior DevOps Engineer, to step in and give Alan a hand. We’ll let you judge the results, but let’s just say it wasn’t as easy as we thought it would be…

Keep your eyes peeled for our next blog post… The building is about to begin! 😀

With love,

pi-topTEAM

Bett 2018 – Show Recap

It might sound like a cliché, but it’s crazy how time does fly! A couple of weeks ago we were sharing our enthusiasm about attending Bett 2018 and now we surprise ourselves writing a show recap.

Like every year, we had an amazing four days at one of the world’s leading education technology shows. It was chock full of activities; engaging workshops, interesting talks and extraordinary people that, like us, want to empower students to become collaborative, critical and creative thinkers. So, without any further ado, these are some of the show’s highlights!

pi-top winning!

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We are chuffed and incredibly proud to announce that we won the ‘Innovator of the YearBett 2018 Award. This is the second year in a row that we take home a Bett award – last year we won ‘Start-up of the Year’ – so massive props to the team!

Winning ‘Innovator of the Year’ means a great deal to all of us, as it’s an important recognition of the great work that we’ve accomplished over the last year. Plus, it raises the bar for what we now want to achieve in 2018 and beyond…

Hands-on STEAM education workshops

 

We managed to get everyone making, creating and innovating with our modular products during our fun workshops. They were focused on solving problems together, applying knowledge and inciting learners to discuss with others what will work best.

Bett Talks

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We passionately believe that Collaborative Problem Solving is an essential skill in education and a basic necessity for the 21st century workforce. It is undeniable that the world is changing at an overwhelming pace and, as educators, we should all be thinking of how to equip our children with the skills to thrive in this transforming society.

As Jesse Lozano, pi-top’s CEO, explained in his keynote, the reason we wake up every morning is to design an inspiring learning by making ecosystem that supports students in the development of critical and creative skills while empowering educators to achieve their goals.

 

We also hosted two talks on Collaborative Problem Solving from the educators’ and students’ perspective. Both were hugely enlightening and clearly demonstrated that our education system needs to evolve and adapt to both educators’ and learners’ needs.

Drinks Reception

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On Friday 26th of January we hosted a pre-TeachMeet drinks reception in the STEAM Village to celebrate STEAM education and a wonderful week at Bett. We had a great time meeting new people and seeing some familiar faces 🙂

#NoStormtroopers Competition

In one of pi-top’s magazine articles we wonder if Constructionism can prevent our children turning into mindless Stormtroopers (you can read the article online) so we thought it might be a good idea to fill ExCel London with our #NoStormtroopers stickers and badges.

We encouraged all of our stand visitors to share their best #NoStormtroopers pictures with us to be in with a chance of winning daily prizes of pi-top swag for the most creative placements. Check out some of our favourites here!

 

If you didn’t make it to Bett this year, don’t worry. You can have a look at the very first issue of the pi-top magazine ‘Learning by Making’ here.

The mag features case studies and articles by Learning Reimagined author, broadcaster and pi-top’s Chief Education Adviser, Graham Brown-Martin  and Mitchel Resnick (Professor of Learning Research at MIT Media Lab and author of Lifelong Kindergarten).

Thanks again to everyone that stopped by the STEAM Village to see us at Bett. We loved meeting each and everyone of you. And we cannot wait to see you again next year!


Onwards and upwards,

pi-topTEAM

Bett 2018 – Competition

Bett 2018 is here! This year we’ve got a lot of things planned: two stands F480 and G480 full of pi-top fun, several free hands-on workshops over the course of Bett, three Bett talks and our drinks reception on Friday, 26th of January. But it doesn’t end there. Here at pi-topHQ we thought that it would be a good idea to get creative and give you the chance to win a free pi-top modular laptop for learning by making every single day.

This competition is only open during the BETT Show times between 24th-27th January 2018. The competition is open only to Bett 2018 visitors aged 18+.

Come find us at G480 for a change to win a new pi-top!

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How to participate*:

  1. Come to stand G480 (in the STEAM Village)
  2. Scan your badge
  3. Grab one of our free pi-top stickers
  4. Get creative and find the best place for your pi-top sticker! Take a quick snap of it and tweet us @GetPiTop using hashtag #NoStormtroopers
  5. The lucky winners will be contacted

*Entries valid only during BETT show times, between the 24th to the 27th of January 2018. The competition is only open to participants aged 18+. T’s&C’s apply.

Prizes:

At the end of each day the pi-top team will choose the three most creative sticker placements posted on social media from all entries of the day! Winners will be announced at the end of the day and prizes will be handed out or shipped to you directly after the event.

  • 1st prize:

1 x the new pi-top with Raspberry Pi 

1 x pi-top swag pack 

  • Runner up prizes:

2 x pi-top swag pack


Competition Rules Overview 

  1. This competition is only open during the Bett Show times 24th-27th January 2018.
    1. Closing date is the 27th January 2018 at 5pm.
  2. The prize competition is open only to Bett 2018 attendees and participants aged 18+.
  3. Multiple entries by the same person will not be accepted.
  4. Valid entries must have complied with all the entry requirements steps.
    1. Get badge scanned by pi-topTEAM
    2. Upload a picture with pi-top sticker to Twitter
    3. Tag @GetPiTop
    4. Use #NoStormtroopers
  5. The prize is non-transferable
  6. The winners are selected by pi-topTEAM
  7.  Any personal data submitted with consent will be kept by pi-top for marketing purposes and will not be shared with any other third party.

pi-top Bett 2018 competition T&C


See you there!

pi-topTEAM

Collaborative Learning by Making and Playing

Here at pi-top we passionately believe that students learn better by making fun things together.

This is why we have made it our mission to give teachers and kids everything they need to embrace STEAM learning collectively and to really bring science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics to life.

What we are not about is using technology for technology’s sake in the classroom. Education technology needs to be driven by creativity, collaboration and making things. And not about adapting consumer tech gadgets and tech toys to the curriculum.

Introducing Creative Collaborative Learning in Schools

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Collaborative learning is best demonstrated when we allow students to work on projects they strongly want to solve together. Sounds pretty straightforward, no?

For pi-top, the real value of blending project-based learning with Computer Science and STEAM education in schools is clear. Both kids and teachers love building things together. And the notion that children can say that they’ve built their own laptop computer, robot, music-making machine or countless other cool things is what makes pi-top so special.

There are some deep-rooted systemic challenges for schools and teachers who see the real value in pi-top’s unique flavour of collaborative, project-based physical computing. Not least the fact that we work within an education system rooted in the late 19th century, driven by an antiquated text book and measurement industry that regards teaching as delivery rather than design.

That said, many forward-thinking educationalists are convinced that our education system needs to be based much more on collaboration, making and constructionism. And much less on direct instruction and rote learning.

As Mitchel Resnick, the Director of the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab passionately argues: “The most important thing for us to do is to help children learn to think creatively, adapt to change and come up with innovative approaches to new and changing situations.

“Too often in today’s schools I think we end up valuing the things that we can assess. Instead I think we have to figure out ways of assessing the things that we value.”

The Root of Creative is Create

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If we need our children to be creative, critical and socially skilled, then why are they being taught to behave like machines? Schools need to move from the traditional model of education and really embrace creative, hands-on, collaborative student-centred learning.

This is far more than an issue of differing perspectives on educational theory. Designing collaborative learning experiences to encourage learners to make things together and helping them to solve interesting real-world challenges is going to be the key to giving children the skills they need to survive and thrive in the 21st century.

As pi-top’s chief education adviser, Graham Brown-Martin, notes: “We are on the precipice of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Artificial Intelligence. Automation. Ubiquitous, mobile supercomputing. Intelligent robots. Self-driving cars. Neuro-technological brain enhancements. Genetic editing.

“The evidence of dramatic change is all around us and it’s happening at exponential speed. And governments, educators and parents alike must ask the question about how they can prepare present and future generations to thrive in this transforming world.”

At pi-top we are obsessive about creating the best physical computing platform to encourage collaborative learning by making and playing. Constructionism and experiential learning, technology that liberates and inspires, personalised learning that’s focused on the child rather than the instruction.

Why do you get out of bed in the morning?

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All of these things are the reason why we get out of bed in the morning. pi-top is about designing inspiring education technology, working closely with some of the world’s most skilled educators to further collaborative learning in every way we can.

Most of all we are energised and inspired on a daily basis by the many start-ups, teachers and groups of students that we work with. These are the people who are liberating learners and teachers alike to work together to solve problems and create new knowledge.

The bottom line is this: if new technology and STEAM education in schools is not encouraging kids to work together, and promoting hands-on learning through play and project-based learning then it is doing something wrong.

We are providing kids an exciting, engaging and playful entrance into the worlds of hands-on computer science, coding, engineering, design, robotics, 3D printing, business management and so much more. Our technology encourages less solitary screen time and more collaborative ‘creativity time’.

pi-top is about inspiring kids to reach their full potential. After all, isn’t that the point of education?

Want to find out more? Visit booth #2453 at FETC or head over to meet our team at Bett on our stands F480 and G480. We’re also hosting three Bett talks:
24th of January at 10:30 (Schools Theatre). Teacher’s voice: Collaborative Problem Solving.
25th of January at 12:45 (Schools Theatre). Learner’s voice: Collaborative Problem Solving.
26th of January at 14:30 (Bett Arena). pi-top’s CEO, Jesse Lozano, keynote  Make project based STEAM learning a reality in your school.

pi-top’s Bett workshops: create, share, collaborate and learn by making

With a limited number of free spaces still available, pi-top’s hands-on STEAM workshops at Bett 2018 are designed and run by our in-house educationalists.

We are on the precipice of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, characterised by artificial intelligence, automation, self-driving vehicles, ubiquitous mobile super-computing and so forth. These advances will create new and unexpected employment opportunities as well as new pressures caused by technological unemployment.

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We know that present and future generations will face unprecedented challenges in the form of climate change, population growth, antibiotic resistance and an ageing population.

The vital question we must ask is this: how can we equip our children with the knowledge and skills to thrive in a transforming world? Come to pi-topCORNER (stand G480 in STEAM village) to find out.

Register quickly if you want to join pi-top’s education team at stand G480 in STEAM village for a genuinely fun and enlightening workshop in a hands-on collaborative classroom setting.

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The pi-top workshops will focus on solving problems together, applying knowledge and encouraging learners to discuss with others what will work best. We will explore a whole new chapter of computer science, STEAM education and learning by making.

Get involved! And get making, innovating and creating with pi-top’s modular products. Learn how to code in Python and do some real-life physical computing. Build your own circuit with lights, buzzers, sensors and motors and learn how pi-top can facilitate a meaningful learning environment for both students and teachers, addressing curriculum requirements through project-based learning.

Each pi-top workshop will last between 30 and 45 minutes. You will leave with a thorough understanding of how pi-top can help your school to fully embrace and benefit from our learning by making philosophy. We hope you come join us! 

Bett 2018 – What’s to come

Last month we were excited by the news of being shortlisted as a finalist for two Bett awards, “Innovator of the Year” and our modular laptop, the new pi-top, is up for a “Digital Devices” award. Winners will be announced on the 24th January, fingers crossed, we’re hoping to win!

Bett 2018 is just a bit over a month away, so we wanted to share some of the fun things we’ve got planned. We hope you come join us from the 24th to the 27th of January at the ExCel in London.

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Oldie but goldie. Image from Bett 2017

STEAM Village 2018

We are happy to announce that the Bett STEAM Village 2018 is sponsored by pi-top. On top of that we are building not one, but two stands full of pi-top fun in the village! Come join us on stands F480 and G480 where you’ll be able to meet our awesome team, try out our products and maybe snap a few pictures to share with the rest of your school.

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Free hands-on workshops

A new feature for us at Bett is the pi-top workshops on our stand G480. They will be 30-45 minutes long, including 15 minutes of collaborative learning. You will get hands-on experience with our modular products and learn how to code in Python using pi-topCODER.

Make sure you book your place as there are a limited number of spaces available.

Click here to register!
(Remember you will need to complete a free Bett registration to visit the show and our workshops)

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Bett Talks

It doesn’t end here, we’re also hosting three Bett Talks. Our talks on the 23rd and 24th of January in the Schools Theatre are focused on Collaborative Problem Solving. They will give both the Educators’ and the Students’ perspectives. Come hear from an educator on the 24th and from a panel of students aged 13 -17 on the 25th. To end our Bett talks on a high, Jesse Lozano, pi-top’s co-founder and CEO, will deliver a keynote in the Main Arena at 14:30 on the 26th of January.

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Jesse’s speech at Bett 2017

Drinks Reception

Finally, come celebrate STEAM education and a successful week of Bett by joining us at our drinks reception on Friday 26th January from 16:30 to 18:30.

For our US friends – FETC 2018

Don’t worry, if you can’t make it to Bett in London our amazing US pi-top team will be at FETC 2018 in Orlando (FL) from the 23-26th of January! They’ll be holding talks and have a beautiful stand you should definitely check out.

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Phew, that was a lot. For those who made it to the end – keep your eyes peeled for more Bett and FETC updates in the new year. 🙂

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Onwards and upwards,

pi-topTEAM

 

 

PiWars 2018 – It Starts…

When we started our robot plan way back in September, it all seemed fairly straightforward: We build a robot, we write some code, we modify it to suit the challenges and ‘Bob’s your uncle’. Turns out, things are never that easy – the first thing we had to decide on was how independent did we want to go – did we want to go for a complete kit build or to try and freestyle it all ourselves? Then we had to make decisions on which kit to actually buy, whether we wanted to get one quickly just to get started, or make an informed decision to actually start thinking about our final design.

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Full of enthusiasm

Of course, we had to put a lot of our build on hold while we were all heavily involved in the launch of the amazing new pi-top with Inventor’s Kit (not that we’re super proud of all our hard work). But this meant that we couldn’t really do much until the latter end of October once things settled down.

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The new pi-top with Inventor’s Kit

As a start point, we bought a couple of quick and easy kits like the CamJam EduKit 3 and the Monk Makes kit, however, we quickly realised that these wouldn’t be powerful enough for what we had in mind. Still, Angus had great fun playing with the first robot and getting a feel for programming it – he is converting its code to Node.js as “the real world is event driven and asynchronous Python stinks”. Let’s hope our final robot can be coded in JavaScript too!

We spent a fair bit of time discussing wheel-types, especially after looking at the cheaper kits. So we originally settled on a three-wheeled model, but saw on the PiWars forum that it was recommended to go for four wheels instead. There were some crazy ideas from Alan about machine learning and openCV which left a muggle like me a little bit confused.

By the middle of November, we realised it was going to be essential to schedule in not only a regular meeting to discuss strategy, but also a regular building session to ensure that everyone gets a chance to be involved in the robot as our team was full of so many people with sometimes contrary ideas that it became essential that we work together.

Team 2
check out Mic’s Movember moustache

After a lot of question-asking, we eventually narrowed it down to two kits – either the DiddyBorg by PiBorg or Brian Corteil’s ‘Max’. At this point I should point out how supportive Brian has already been towards the pi-top team, offering us advice, ideas and support and so when we came to make the final vote, the decision was easy. We originally got in touch with Brian as we loved his Tiny 4WD, but were looking for something with a bit more power, Brian was really helpful and suggested that we consider his Max robot, which is not currently available as a kit, but he was happy to custom build one for us!! Brian’s kit will provide us with everything that we need except a motor board, but fortunately he was also able to recommended the Pololu board recently released at Pimoroni and so we now want to try out different torque motors and different wheel sizes to ensure our robot is able to complete all of the challenges effectively.

As you can see, we’re all taking this super seriously 😉

 

PiWars 2018 – Meet the team!

Here at pi-top, we love getting involved with the Raspberry Pi community and taking part in events so when the opportunity to enter PiWars 2018 came around, we couldn’t resist submitting a team. With a range of skills, talents and opinions, the pi-top team spent several weeks… only to decide on a name for our robot, eventually settling on Robo-Top.

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We’ll be updating you on our build progress over the next few months, but first we thought it was important that you got a chance to meet the team!

Name: CatCat
Role at pi-top: Education Outreach Champion
Role on the PiWars team: Chief Kitten Wrangler
Fun Fact: I sleep walk and talk so can often be found wandering around the house at night, confused and half dressed
Inspirational Quote: The most dangerous phrase in the language is, ‘We’ve always done it this way.’ Grace Hopper
Favourite pizza topping: Good ol’ margherita (now spelt correctly thanks to Mic)
Most likely to…: disappear early to sneak off home to bed
What you’re most excited about for PiWars: Meeting (and beating) all the other teams

MicName: Mic
Role at pi-top:  Software Developer
Role on the PiWars team: Chief Artillery Officer
Fun Fact: When shaking a drink carton I have the compulsive need to break out into a rendition of Shake Your Booty by KC & The Sunshine Band
Inspirational quote: If it ain’t broke you ain’t trying hard enough
Favourite Pizza topping: Burrata
Most likely to…: Start an argument about pizza toppings
What you’re most excited about for PiWars: Practice for the imminent robo-pocalypse

20431392_10155582276409265_159485426494440223_nName: Alan (also goes by Steve)
Role at pi-top: Generic dude who engineers from time to time
Role on the PiWars team: Chief Director of Shuffling
Fun Fact: I like to move it move it, I like to move it!
Inspirational Quote: If you’re going to be thinking, you may as well think big
Favourite pizza topping: Any pizza that doesn’t have cheese on it
Most likely to…: Build a robot that will start the robo-pocalypse
What you’re most excited about for PiWars: The cool conversations that will probably go down

AndreaName: Andrea
Role at pi-top: Digital Marketing and Social Media Manager
Role on the PiWars team: Chief Prettifier and Head of Glitter
Fun Fact: I follow more pet’s accounts on Instagram than people. A girl needs her dose of #dailyfluff!
Inspirational Quote: “Tonight I say, we must move forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!” from one of the best TV shows, The Simpsons.
Favourite pizza topping: Pepperoni, pepperoni and pepperoni. Oh, did I mention pepperoni?
Most likely to…: Dance the night away
What you’re most excited about for PiWars: Glitter, glitter and more glitter

Matt

Name: Matt
Role at pi-top: Senior DevOps Engineer
Role on the PiWars team: Make things work team
Fun Fact: I once ran over a dolphin
Inspirational Quote: I reserve the right to have an opinion, no matter how wrong I probably am.
Favourite pizza topping: Cheese, any kind, lots of it.
Most likely to…: be found down the pub
What you’re most excited about for PiWars: Yeah, I’ll have a steak and ale pie, thanks

 
IMG_20160325_132440 (1)Name:  Val
Role at pi-top: Intern
Role on the PiWars team: Lead engineer
Fun Fact: I like to read medical textbooks for fun
Inspirational Quote: Shoot for the stars. That way, even if you miss them, you will smack into the moon.
Favourite pizza topping: Pineapple
Most likely to…: eat all the cake in the office (or team up with the robots in case of a robo-pocalypse)
What you’re most excited about for PiWars: Showing everyone what a real engineer looks like

 
Chris_HantonName: Chris
Role at pi-top: Mechanical Design Engineer
Role on the PiWars team: CAD monkey
Fun Fact: My neighbour knocked on my door at 2:30am this morning- luckily for him I was still up playing my bagpipes!
Inspirational Quote: You don’t want to take your product out while it’s still floppy – discussing Injection Moulding
Favourite pizza topping: Macaroni Cheese
Most likely to…: Complain about missing the rugby
What you’re most excited about for PiWars: Use this as a stepping stone to enter Robot Wars next year!

 
AngusName: I am Angus.
Role at pi-top: I am Angus.
Role on the PiWars team: I am Angus.
Fun Fact: Angus Angus
Inspirational Quote: Angus Angus Angus
Favourite pizza topping: Angus
Most likely to…: I am Angus.
What you’re most excited about for PiWars: We are Angus