Confection Perfection

Snacks on Wheels, Snacks in the Air, Snacks Everywhere


Have you purchased meal plans this semester that you’re worried you might waste? You’re not alone! Millions of dollars in meal plans are wasted every semester and we want to do something about it. A team of your fellow students has teamed up to design a solution to inconvenient locations, high prices, and poor food choices.

According to an article in the Eagle, millions of dollars in unclaimed meals are wasted every semester (Reed). Their study revealed that in one semester about 9,000 students purchased $11.8 million worth of meals, $2.7 million of which went unused. But why would any of us spend so much money on meals just to waste it?

Our team has put together a concept that will utilize Next Generation technology that will have you snacks waiting on you at your next class. You want a tasty meal without having to wait in Oklahoma for the line outside Sbisa to clear? Text ahead to one of our trucks strategically located throughout campus, and we’ll have a warm meal ready for your cold fingers upon arrival. How about a nice pumpkin spice latte that literally falls out of the sky into your hands? Now you can have that warm beverage to cheer you up without waiting in line in the freezing cold. All you have to do is sign up for our premium subscription that will have you calling drones on speed dial.

Our services will be coordinated with servers that utilize artificial intelligence to optimize our delivery routes so we can get you food faster than Jimmie John’s; you won’t know what hit you. Our fleet will be made up of eight trucks placed in the most common areas, and each one will have the capacity to hold four drones for your snack time pleasure. Our solution is dedicated to pursuing university environmental safety initiatives. Each of our trucks utilize hybrid technologies to help lower fuel emissions and save on fuel economy which helps us bring you the snack you want at a reasonable price! Feel free to look below at each of the sections for specific details on each aspect of our service.

Questions? Suggestions? Join us at the Next Generation Snacks Open House next week to refine our process with your student input. The details of this event are given below! Can’t make it? Leave a comment below!


Current Campus Infrastructure Issues: Construction

Surely you're no stranger to the expression, "don't bite more than you can chew." Unfortunately, Texas A&M has done just that with its overly ambitious prospects for future growth.

While the running joke on campus is that construction is an Aggie tradition, current projects like Zachary renovation, Commons renovation, and Corps construction have begun to cause quite a ruckus, especially on the campus food scene. The Commons building was the staple food destination for Aggies on the south side, and now that it's out of commission the campus' dining infrastructure is heavily strained.

The campus has tried to compensate by opening Duncan to the general student body, but this is like trying to fix a dam with a piece of bubblegum, mostly because the heavy Corps presence discourages regular students from going. Also the Zachary Engineering Center had a critical food venue that provided those in the engineering corner with their beloved cup of joe in the morning, and now the only other options are inconveniently located.

Current Campus Infrastructure Issues: Overcrowding

Matter takes up space, this is basic science. Our university is renowned for its STEM fields, yet the irony of Aggieland's current state of affairs is that it fails to grasp this simple scientific concept. You cannot cram more people into a smaller space and expect positive results. But again, that is just what Texas A&M has done.
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This problem will only get worse too, as a direct result of the new 25 by 25 initiative being set into place. With larger enrollment numbers and less venues to dine, lines become longer, and our willingness to dine on campus grows smaller.

Luckily we have a solution for all these dining problems: an advanced fleet of food service trucks.

For more interesting TAMU demographics:


Why food trucks?

A brand new fleet of food trucks will reach the parts of campus that lack proper dining areas, but are still frequented often by students, with greater ease. No better example of a place that lacks this service comes to mind than center campus.
The pavilion complex houses a small diner and convenience store so tightly packed even a mouse would suffer from some claustrophobia. Also the Starbucks lines wrap halfway around the world. These trucks would bring greater variety and alleviate the strain overcrowding causes

Why Buy The New Trucks?

Some might argue that the purchasing of a brand new fleet is a waste of funds because the university already owns buses, and it could be economically more viable to just retrofit them to fit our solution model.

The opposite proves to be true, however. Retrofitting the buses would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, due to part replacement costs and breakdown and service costs from greater lack of efficiency. Simply put, buses were meant to haul lots of people around, not lots of people and lots of ice cream at the same time.


Why HEV? Problems occured with gasoline and diesel vehicle

Air pollution problems

Gasoline driven and diesel driven vehicles are causing a lot of problems. Since they have really low efficiency on gas or diesel using, they can actually cause more pollution problems since incomplete burned gasses can produce more greenhouse gasses, especially the carbon dioxide. In general, ars and trucks account for over one-fifth of the United States' total global warming pollution; transportation, which includes freight, trains, and airplanes, accounts for around thirty percent of all heat-trapping gas emissions. (Jingyu)
Also, other gasses that vehicle's exhausted such as Hydrocarbons (HC), Nitrogen oxides (NOx), Carbon monoxide (CO) and Sulfur dioxide (SO2) can cause human's respiratory system problems. The biggest one is lung cancer. (Jingyu)
Lung Cancer: Is Air Pollution a Major Cause?
Also, air pollution can cause other respiratory system damage. Christopher and two other researcher of the University of Minnesota have just published a study in the National Academy of Sciences. They estimate that air pollution kills more than 100,000 people a year in America. (Jingyu)

Costs Problems

current gasoline engine has 32% efficiency on gas using and diesel engine is 40% on diesel using. They are both really low which means about 60% to 70% energies have been wasted or exhausted to the atmosphere. (Jingyu)

Replacement of Gasoline and diesel vihecles-HEV

HEV-hybrid electric vehicle, is the type of vehicle that based on the regular gasoline vehicles and developed a more efficient system. For a hybrid electric vehicle, the only difference that it has with a gasoline vehicle is that hybrid has battery powered electric drive motor and a system with generators which recovers the heat energy which usually rejected to the atmosphere and produce useful electric power for storage in an electric battery. And below is a picture of the structure of a hybrid electric vehicle. (Jingyu)

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Compare HEV to a normal gasoline driven vehicle

Compare to gasoline vehicles, hybrid electric vehicle provides a solution for the shortcomings of the gasoline or diesel fueled vehicles, more specifically, the increased fuel consumption, and increased exhaust gas emissions at idle and low speed operating conditions.

Hybrid electric vehicles hace achieved the least green house gasses emissions and energy consumption. The crude-to-gasoline pathway has a high efficiency of 82.6%. The efficiency of crude oil recovery is approximately 98%. Also,the hybrid car system can achieve approximately up to 25% reduction in fuel use through recovery of waste heat energy from the internal combustion engine. Depending on the ambient temperatures and operating conditions, fuel savings in the range of 30% to 40% can be achieved when compared to a conventional gasoline or diesel fueled vehicles. And below is a price comparition. (Jingyu)

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Compare HEV to a pure electric vehicle

Compare to a pure elecytic vehicle, the hybrid car system provides a solution for the shortcomings of the electric driven car, more specifically, the limited storage capacity of the electric battery, short battery life, short driving range, and low speed and torque output. Since we need to drive those trucks all day long, it is important to make them last longer. (Jingyu)

How much to make? How to make it? MONEY.

Profit? How much profit? The possibilities are endless and with that being said, the money should pile in as we begin providing service to students on campus. A&M students waste a total of 2.7 million dollars in meal plans and dine-in dollars. That is money that us as a snack providing service can hope that students use on us. If you add up the expenses that we as a company make (food, drinks, utilities, maintenance) and deduct that amount from our profits, that leaves us with enough money to provide the founders (group B) payed tuition!


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Profit Margin

Let's talk numbers. If we were to sell snacks at a regular price meaning that we would sell chips and things like for at $3 per bag but we would purchase (whole sale) a total of, lets say, 150 bags worth $50 dollars then we would make a total of $400 of profit. Providing a drone service that would cost the customer an upwards of $0.75 per 500 ft. would bring the price up a few dollars. Now, assume that students would order a drink along with their chips, we as the company would look to make a total of $8 per sale. Although it may seem a little expensive for a drink and a bag of chips, the customer will be informed that they are getting their food delivered at hand. Meaning they can be anywhere on campus and order at their liking, at any time.

Our services are not limited to Chips & Drinks. We are far more flexible than that. We plan to provide to the students a various amount of food types, for example, we will provide fountain drinks, dairy treats (milkshakes, ice-cream cones, frozen cookies) and much more. All this will come at different prices. This will come extremely helpful to all students considering that when finals begin and you start realizing that you might not have enough time left in the semester to finish all your dining dollars and meal trades. We will be the easiest and the most feasible way to spend money! All in good cause, and to bring smiles to each and every one of our customers.


Keeping the Customer: Advertisement & Marketing

Advertising & Marketing: The number one reason companies all over the world end their days on a bad note is because most people lack the correct advertisement and promotions to keep the customer interested. One way to keep students at A&M buying from us throughout the semester is providing special promotions. This can range from informing the students of special days of the week, for example, on Tuesdays we will happy hour, "Order our SZN Blasts at 1/2 off, only on Tuesdays!" these types of promotions tend to give the customer an excuse to buy. An excuse to buy is by far the best techniques in making money, when you tell your customer that its one time thing, they'll start to convince themselves that, "If not now, then never" eventually leading to a purchase.

Marketing can be tricky with college students. As a current A&M student, I can admit that as I walk through campus I do not pay attention to any signs that students are holding or do I feel that I have enough time to speak to any of them and get information. Why is this? Because students walk with purpose, every student is either walking to class or walking to have lunch, whatever the case may be, students do not pay attention to billboards, we simply do not have time. Mass emails won't do the work either, nobody checks their emails unless they start with a professors name.

How to fix it? Ask yourself this, if you saw flying coffee, would you wonder where its going? Or better yet, where it came from? Of course you would! Our best marketing tool is the service itself. Flying drones, flying coffee, flying baked Alaska, will catch ones attention and whats better than making free money. That is basically what it is. Companies spend millions of dollars on commercials and billboards to get their business out there and all we have to do is sell more deliveries. Our marketing strategy will encourage students through their own curiosity to purchase from us.


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DRONE DELIVERY: a Bold New Frontier in Confectionary Science

Have you ever been walking to class in the cold, windy, wet, Texas winter? Your nose gets all stiff and freezes up, your fingers stuffed in gloves or your pockets as a last ditch effort to keep warm. Your class is at West campus, but you missed the bus. You're tired, frustrated and want nothing more than a nice hot peppermint latte to warm your spirits. You eye the Starbucks as you pass by, but the line is almost fifty people long. You need to be in class in twenty minutes. Wouldn't you love it if that latte could just fall from the sky?

Sounds impossible right? It's not. With the premium drone delivery system attached to our proprietary trucks, any treat your heart desires can be brought right to you, no matter where you are, at the press of a button. Simply download our free mobile app, and register as a premium subscriber. This grants you usage privileges of our robust drone delivery network, powered by our predictive AI decision engine.

Then, whenever you find yourself having a hankering for a tasty treat, some go-juice or even a little pick-me-up, simply type in your order into our mobile app, make sure location services are enabled (or tell the drone where to deliver your snack) and hit send! The cost of the item will be deducted from your credit card information that you already have on file, so there’s no messing about with your wallet as you’re trudging to class.

5-10 minutes later, your treat will arrive, complete with napkins, straws, or whatever add-ons you select in your order.


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Pictured: a hexacopter drone, ideal for heavy lifting and endurance

Benefits to campus

While this idea may seem far-fetched at first, the benefits it will bring to campus will overwhelmingly outweigh any potential negative aspects. Soon, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it. During the hot summer months, dehydration and heatstroke due to the humidity are serious risks for anyone unlucky enough to be caught outside for an extended period of time. Our drone delivery service lets sweltering students order water bottles, ice cream, gelato, and all sorts of other cooling treats, to be delivered to their location in just a few minutes’ time. This would reduce strain on Beutel health center’s already crowded facilities by reducing the incidence of preventable heat-related illness.

Additionally, the publicity value of this cannot be understated. As the first university in the country to implement such a proposal, Texas A&M would be marking itself as a hub of innovation and modernity. It would attract smart, techy people from across the country, all while generating revenue for the university.

And revenue it will generate. Using the tried and true “freemium” business model, pioneered in mobile app development, our premium service is paired with and advertised alongside our free service (use of the trucks). This will generate word of mouth and social pressure encouraging non-adopters to take the leap and become subscribers. The sheer “cool” factor of the innovation will help further its adoption, and we believe that demand for this service will be high enough to cover its costs and make profit for the university within just a few months.


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Pictured: A truck-based drone delivery platform similar in concept to ours

Sounds great! What does it cost?

The monthly subscription fee is $20 for full-time students, $30 for part-time students and $10 for graduate students.


Brain Food, AKA the Brains Behind the Food


This system has a lot of moving parts. Literally. We need to be able to plan the routes of these trucks with daily analytics for optimal routing, track the paths of our Drone Delivery System, and make decisions in real-time as to where any given drone should return for its next delivery. We need a system large enough to handle so much incoming data, as well as be reliable enough to work in realtime. So we are going to invest $50k-$100k to build a server dedicated to the Texas A&M food truck services.

Servers More Powerful Than You

I'm sure you've noticed how Howdy gets overwhelmed at the start of every semester as every student on campus is trying to access their class schedule. While at worst, those students will be late to a class, but the consequences in a realtime system could be catastrophic. We need to be able to handle thousands of delivery requests, as well as manage all the traffic of every drone in the fleet, which need to be able to make a split-second decision about delivery routing. The servers we have cannot support this much data processing.

So we need a new server, but should we buy one or use a cloud computing service, like one of the ones below?

The choice is obvious.

Truck Routes Smarter Than You

There needs to be a way to plan our truck routes to get an even distribution of treats throughout campus. However, these routes need to account for the number of students in a given area and how likely students are to buy food, because it does no good to have a truck driving around an area where there are no students. Likewise, if half the engineering students drop out of physics after the first exam, we don't need to keep a truck outside that building to sooth their sorrows any longer, so we need to continuously monitor metrics like student attendance and sales and update our routes to make the most sales we can.

Luckily, the university already has Esri for our bus routes. Esri provides us with realtime tracking, so students can view where our trucks are at any time, and also allows us to input daily statistics and automatically creates the most optimal routes to use.

Drones Cooler Than You

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High-res photograph of a real drone.
Somehow, we need our drones to talk. Not just to each other, but to the students. Our solution is twofold: We need to implement a service to handle orders from students both from texts and a mobile app. The app is easy, the hard part is the text orders. But like a good Big Brother, Google has just what we need. We can set up a simple text server from a service like Twilio, and then funnel the texts over to Google's open source AI Engine, TensorFlow.
Representation of how TensorFlow works: by magic.
The advantage of using a system like TensorFlow to manage input and deliveries is that it gets smarter over time. As it learns more of what the students want, it can better predict where students will order food, and optimize drone routes appropriately. It would be extremely wasteful if a drone were required to return to the same truck every time, because if the truck moves, then a lot of time is wasted in returning to the truck. If we can work fast enough, then we can change the return path of a drone in a moment's notice to pick up its next delivery at the closest truck truck, so less time is spent in transit and each drone is able to make more deliveries.

Another advantage to using AI for input is that it also removes the step of preprocessing the text, because we can use the raw text as input to the AI engine. When we use an app, we can manually format the data however we need to to make sure that the AI engine can understand it. But the problem with this is that it needs constant maintenance, and anytime a new building or menu item is added the app must be updated to accommodate it. We can certainly have an app to go along with this service, but by using natural language as the primary input, we make it both more accessible for students, and also more responsive to changes in campus life. So we set up the system once, and it is smart enough to know when things change.

Also, since the engine is open source it is free and costs us nothing. That's free as in beer, and free as in speech. Costs us nothing. So why use anything else?

Next Generation Snacks Open House

Tuesday, Dec. 15th, 7pm

401 Joe Routt Boulevard

College Station, TX

Do you have questions about our project? Do you want your voice heard? Then join us for refreshments at our open house as we discuss the intricacies of our solution. We want to refine our project with your input! Our team will present even more details, then open the floor for questions, comments, and suggestions! Can't make it? Leave comments below!