Cooking Up New Ideas (and BBQ) at DMC's FedEx Day

Cooking Up New Ideas (and BBQ) at DMC's FedEx Day

DMC recently held another one of our favorite company-wide traditions... FedEx Day! On FedEx Day, everyone in the company takes a break from their day-to-day tasks and works on a project that they think will improve DMC. It's a great opportunity to collaborate with people we don't normally work with, develop new skills, and have fun.

It's called a FedEx Day because the planned project must be delivered by the end of the day. With five offices and more employees than ever, there were tons of projects going on that ranged from super technical internal improvement projects, to fun IoT improvements, to getting our hands dirty cooking for our colleagues or working in the garden.

Here are just some of the projects DMC employees worked on this FedEx Day. 

DMC Boston

Bike SmartLights – Frank May

Frank's car indicates with lights when he hits the brakes, and some cooler cars have lights that turn on when you walk up to the car. Frank wanted his bike to do the same, so he spent the day collaborating with the design firm Altitude getting the core functionality of this working while enjoying getting to ride his bike around the office.
Learn more about this project.

Frank May of DMC Boston Works on his SmartLights project (left), his bike and project partner (right).

DMC Hydroponics – Phil Schaffer, Jirka Hladis, and Eric Baggen

Phil, Jirka, and Eric B. designed and built a hydroponics system with a time-lapse camera to grow various types of flowers to exponentially increase Zen in DMC Boston. The setup relies on a custom-made Ebb & Flow System, continuously flooding and draining water, which removes the need for an additional aeration system.



DMC Boston FedEx Day April 2017 Planter, Seeds, Electric Panel.

DMC Chicago

Model Train – Gina Zak

Gina set up an N-scale model train set to run along the quad. The project is just in its beginning phases with wiring the track, power supply, and model building lights. Eventually, they'd like to have the train run all the way around their quad with automated bridges!       

DMC Chicago FedEx Day April 2017 Model Train setup by Gina Zak. 
Cooking for Colleagues – Smoked Meat, Mac n’ Cheese, Cornbread and Coleslaw – Patrick Corcoran, Spencer Glesmann, Grant Anderson, Molly Graham, Amy Costello, Heather Talbert, Elisha Harris, John Toljanic, Courtney Mitchell

Patrick and Spencer took the lead planning a follow-up to the Cooking for Colleagues initiative that our President Frank Riordan kicked off at the last FedEx Day.

For this FedEx Day, Patrick and Spencer pulled out all the stops and planned a smoked meat feast that included brisket and pork butt, coleslaw, cornbread muffins, and 50 lbs. of mac n' cheese. They worked tirelessly overnight using Patrick's smoker to prepare the meat in DMC's parking lot. It took lots of mini-teams to pull everything together, but it was more than worth the labor. 

DMC Chicago FedEx Day April 2017 Heather and Molly mix up cornbread muffins, seen finished on the left.

Cooking for Colleagues team members work on getting the mac n' cheese ready to go for lunch.

Spencer rests while spending the night at DMC smoking meat, delicious brisket is sliced, Spencer and Patrick help slice and serve smoked meats in the kitchen.

Between the meat, the mac n' cheese, the coleslaw, and the cornbread, there was enough food to feed everyone for lunch on FedEx day... and again on Friday when we all met to review our completed projects.

DMC Chicago employees wait in line to plate up food.

Ping Pong Demo – Beth Reinert

Beth spent FedEx day continuing to rework the ping pong demo, which uses LabVIEW to play solo. She focused on ensuring the demo correctly locates the ball's current position, predicts the ball’s path accurately, and actuates the solenoid at the correct time to hit the ball.

Beth Reinert of DMC Chicago works on the Ping Pong Demo. 

Custom Tap Handles – Nikhil Holay, Jeff McCormick, David Sestrich, Ken Brey

Nikhil, Jeff, David, and Ken built engraved wooden tap handles for our kegerator. They used Fusion 360 for the CAD modeling/G-code generation, and the X-Carve in our office lab for the actual cutting.

Jeff McCormick and Nikhil Holday use the xCarv to make custom tap handles for the Kegerator. Ken Brey came in for this assist.

Nikhil tests out a finished tap. Photo of finished taps.

DMC Ping Pong App – Jordan Harris and Curtis Weir

DMC's ping pong app uses a GoPro to record pong sessions and ranks players by their wins and losses. Curtis and Jordan worked on replacing the old GoPro Hero3 with a new GoPro Hero5 Session camera. They also updated the replay capture code on the Ping Pong App to use the new camera and upload replays to YouTube.

Screenshot of the Ping Pong App UI.

We all look forward to more crazy ping pong shots being caught on camera!

DMC Rooftop Garden - Anne Patterson, Jimmy Brady, Deborah Nunaley, Heather Talbert, Lexi Torres, Molly Graham, Natalie Meeker, Alex Krejcie, Matt Goedke

The DMC rooftop garden is turning five this year, and the garden crew spent part of the day prepping the soil for planting in May. An additional team worked to update the automatic watering system's moisture detection.  

Lexi, Heather, and Jimmy prep the soil for planing in May in the Chicago rooftop garden.

Monitoring Moisture and Repairing the Auto Watering System

Natalie and Alex used Power BI to work on moisture content detection.There is a wi-fi chip that ARM’s embedded IoT platform uses to talk to Azure and Azure talks to us. This allows the watering system to track moisture over time, keep the plants happy with water as they need it, and prevents accidental flooding of the garden and the roof!

Infograph of ARMmbed IoT Device platform to use Microsoft Azure.

Power BI Moisture Detection UI.

Unfortunately, it won't water the office dogs, but they did check out the roof while everyone worked on the garden.

Moisture content detection set-up for the rooftop garden at DMC Chicago. Rosco hangs out in the sun on the roof.

DMC Denver

RF Chamber – Boris Cherkasskiy

The aim of this project was to create a basic RF test lab to perform rough FCC pre-pre-compliance (not an official term) validation at the DMC office before committing to the full test at an external lab. The team built and tested a portable/collapsible RF semi-anechoic enclosure, utilizing nylon-based nickel/copper fabric and a removable lid with transparent mesh for an easy access and visual monitoring.

RF Chamber built by Boris at DMC Denver.


Drink Bot Project - Cameron Fyfe and Ross Bunker

Cameron and Ross worked on the Denver drink bot, a portable demo that utilizes Siemens hardware to mix drinks, similar to Boston's Drinxperiment. This update for the drink bot included integrating Cortana. The Drink Bot will debut at the Siemens Automation Summit in June which will feature 5 DMC Presentations

DMC Houston

DMC Houston spent time making their office more beautiful following their recent office expansion.

DMC New York

Grocery App – Simon Healey and Liz Rapoport

Liz and Simon worked on a grocery app to make restocking the office kitchen faster and easier. To speed up the process, they wrote a WPF application that connects to a database with a list of their most ordered items and lets them select directly from the app. They just add items to the cart, then press one button which compiles the list and emails it to Cat, the Administrative Assistant in Boston.

Screenshot of the UI for the grocery app that Simon and Liz created in New York for FedEx Day April 2017.


Screenshot of email to Cat in Boston from DMC New York ordering groceries.

Office Beautification

DMC New York also spent some time making their office space more organized and beautiful. They hung shelves and organized their lab. They also found a space to hang their college pennants!

DMC New York Office Beautification

FedEx Day is just one more reason DMC continues to be named one of Crain's Best Places to Work in Chicago. 


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