Simpson Featured on the MCM/ICM Website

Over the last ten years, how many teams has Simpson College fielded in the international Mathematical and Interdisciplinary Contests in Modeling (MCM/ICM) presented by COMAP?  More than any other college or university in the United States!  No wonder Simpson College students are featured on the new 2015 MCM/ICM website – check out the slider with images on the top of the main page.

Simpson COMAP 1 Simpson COMAP 2

Registration for MCM/ICM Modeling Competition

The COMAP MCM/ICM modeling competitions will be Thursday, February 5 – Monday, February 9, 2015.  There is a sign-up sheet outside of Carver 340 for teams.  This 96-hour problem-solving contest is an opportunity to use and get experience in:

  • Critical Thinking
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Scientific Reasoning
  • Written Communication
  • Collaborative Leadership
  • Information Literacy

You can also register for a zero-credit experiential learning course during Spring Term 3 to earn a general education designation for Critical Thinking or Information Literacy by participating in this contest.

Teams will choose between four problems, two mathematical and two interdisciplinary, and in 96 hours refine the problem, create a workable solution, analyze the solution and write a report.  For examples of past problems, click here to go to the COMAP website.

The contest is open to all Simpson students.  Students participate in teams of three.  The contest is held here on campus, and we offer teams a classroom to work in, computer equipment and software if needed, and technical support, as well as some nourishment. Simpson College fields more teams in this competition than any other school in the US.

New this year there is a $10,000 scholarship prize for the top two teams in the US.

For more information about the modeling contest at Simpson, click here.  E-mail Murphy Waggoner if you have any questions.

May Term with Multimedia Communication

While stoswald celludents at most colleges spend the middle of May taking final exams, Brian Steffen’s get a chance to stand in Lee Harvey Oswald’s jail cell.

That’s because, as part of Simpson’s May Term program, Steffen takes about 30 students each May to Dallas to see the sites of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination and meet some of the figures who played a role in those three tragic days in American history.

It’s all part of the three-week special-topics term that Simpson students complete as part of their experience at the college. In addition to this coming May’s JFK course, Multimedia Communication Assistant Professor Mark Siebert will teach Writing for Magazines.

“Simpson’s May Term program puts the emphasis on experiential learning,” Steffen said, whose course for next May is already full. “Being within a day’s drive of Dallas, my course gives students the chance to live history and meet some of the players in that event.”

In May 2013, other Simpson students in Multimedia Communication traveled through a class entitled “Media in Chicago,” taught by Assistant Professor Jane Murphy.

Murphy led a group of eight students on a course to highlight the benefits of the metropolitan media outlets in the city. The trip ran from May 12-16 with the group travelling via Megabus to the city where they stayed on the Magnificent Mile right off Michigan Avenue.

Chicago May Term The public relations centered class visited media outlets the Chicago Tribune, WBBM Radio and a public relations firm, Weber Shandwick. The first stop was the Tribune.

“Barbara Brotman, reporter and columnist, who has been with the Tribune since 1978, gave us a tour,” Murphy said. “We then got to sit in on the Page One meeting. Top editors sat around the table and talked about stories their reporters were working on. In the end, they agreed on what would be on the front page and where. The next day, we got a copy of the paper, and sure enough, the stories they selected the day before were on the front page.”

WBBM Radio, the top news-radio station in Chicago, has consisted of only news since 1968. The Simpson class was given a tour of the facility and was able to listen along to the live broadcast from inside the station.

The last tour was at Weber Shandwick PR firm, on the 24th floor of the John Hancock Building. The view from the office alone was enough to excite the students – the conference rooms overlook Lake Michigan.

Weber Shandwick does work with national and global public relations accounts, including the “Got Milk” campaign among others.

“Weber Shandwick is an award-winning PR firm with a global presence,” Murphy said. “The Holmes Report named it the 2014 Large Agency of the Year for the Americas. They focus on getting their clients to participate in what is called the Era of Engagement, using digital, social and creative media. They have an internship program that sparked the students’ interests. In fact, a recent alumna from Drake finished her internship there and was hired on full-time to work with their health care accounts.”

The department will offer two courses this coming May Term, including Steffen’s JFK course which travels to Dallas for a three-day trip. Students get to stand in Dealey Plaza, the site of the attack on Kennedy; visit the Sixth Floor Museum, from which the fatal shots were fired; and the Texas Theater, where Oswald was arrested.Mark Siebert in Oswald's cell

Siebert will be teaching “Writing for Magazines” on campus. The course includes a visit to Meredith Corporation in Des Moines, the publisher of “Better Homes and Gardens” and many more publications.

Both Multimedia Communication courses for this coming May Term will offer a variety of learning opportunities, both including real world applications of the overall lessons. The array of learning opportunities offered by the department make it possible for anyone to enjoy May Term with Multimedia Communication.

Simpson College Hosts MUCH

Last weekend, Simpson College hosted a regional conference for undergraduate research in the humanities.  Since this Simpsonian article for more information.

Simpson takes 1st, 3rd, and 5th out of 22 teams in programming contest

2014 ACM Programming Contest

Students in the Programming Contest

There were 22 teams taking part in the contest, held at Grandview. Simpson brought five teams.

Jacob W, Scott and Chris finished first.
Connor, Jacob H and Nate finished third.
Ellie, Maddie and Park finished fifth.

Second edition of “Program Arcade Games” released

Dr. Paul Craven released the second edition of his book “Program Arcade Games With Python and Pygame.” The book takes a student from knowing nothing about being able to program, to creating simple video games. This book is the basis of his CMSC 150 “Introduction to Programming” course.

The text of the book is available for free electronically at The book is available from Amazon in paper format and in Kindle format. It is also available from Barnes and Noble.

The website currently gets over 2,000 visitors each weekday and is used as an introductory course for students world-wide.

Program Arcade Games Book Cover

Program Arcade Games

Le cinéma français, Simpson Style!

Did you know that many popular American movies are actually remakes of French films?

The French 353 Comparative Cinema class, led by Professor Sharon Wilkinson, has been learning about cultural differences between France and the United States by comparing some of these pairs of films. And what better way to show off what we’ve learned than to try our hand at adapting English-language short films for a French audience?

french-film1The students’ task was to analyze the cultural elements of this short film (such as the choice of sports, the choice of stereotypes, and the type of ending) and then to find a way to adapt these elements to a French audience.

The students worked in groups of three to produce their remake. They interviewed our French Fulbright teaching assistant, Rosa Bathia, to find out what kind of changes would make their version more “French.”

They learned that individual sports such as judo, biking, or even ballet, would be more typical in France than badminton. Some groups adapted the stereotypes of parental roles to be more French with a demanding, strict mother and an understanding father, according to Rosa’s advice.


All groups adjusted the ending of their film to be more realistic, ambiguous, or tragic, in keeping with the examples studied in class. Then they wrote their script, filmed their story, and edited the footage, making use of special effects and music.

Check out their work on our YouTube channel and below.

Not bad for a budget of $0, right?

What a great way to put cultural learning to work and have fun at the same time!

Students can be Heard Through Communication & Media Studies Opportunity  

Amy Frakes and Austin JacobsWhether it’s popular culture or conservative politics, KSTM 88.9 FM radio — known on campus as The Storm — gives Simpson College students the power to run their own radio station.

KSTM is Simpson’s student-operated radio station that broadcasts live over the 88.9 FM channel in and around Indianola and online here.

“KSTM is a non-commercial low power station. It started as part of the Student Affairs Office years ago and was moved to the Communication & Media Studies Department to bring it into the academic experience of students studying journalism,” says faculty advisor Mark Siebert. “In 2013, KSTM moved into a new studio in the Gaumer Building.”

All students get some training in FCC rules to ensure the station is in compliance. Station manager Abbie Benge is in charge of monitoring the material and keeping the station up and running.

“I have already gained a lot of knowledge since becoming station manager,” says Benge. “I learned all about the FCC guidelines, I learned how the station runs and how to control it and fix it if something goes wrong.”

Benge says she’s used her experience with KSTM to further her career goals.

“I was an intern with Cumulus Media this summer, so I came in knowing a lot about how to promote a radio station and what types of things to incorporate into shows to make them more appealing to listeners,” she says. “I’ve also developed a method of how to teach the process to other students.”

Junior Austin Jacobs hosts a conservative political show on The Storm, and he says his experience is something from which he can benefit in the future.

“Two of my friends had a show last year and had a good time so Amy [Frakes] and I figured, why not try it out!” he says. “So far it’s been a great learning experience. I do plan on putting it on my resume. It shows my wide range of skills, and I see that as a plus.”

Not only can having a radio show impact a student’s campus life, it can also help develop those key skills needed in any future field of work.

“Most students who participate do not continue on to careers in radio,” says Siebert, the KSTM adviser. “Most will work full-time jobs in another field and perhaps have a radio show on the side covering high school sports or something similar. The skills developed are applicable to a number of different fields.”

The Storm is an outlet for a range of views and outlooks on lifestyle, politics, sports, popular culture and an endless number of possible show topics.

On the dial for this semester includes a liberal political show, a conservative political show, “geek news” for those interested in comic-book culture, local and national sports reviewing, Latino lifestyle coverage and other great shows provided by Simpson students and fostered by the Communication & Media Studies department.

It’s easy to get involved on campus and make your voice heard when a free radio opportunity is located within the college. Don’t be afraid to make noise at Simpson and foster future career skills through avenues like KSTM 88.9FM — The Storm.

Business and Communications Career Fair

Are you looking for an internship?  Are you graduating and looking for a job?  Attend the Business and Communications Career Fair tomorrow.  Several companies that hire mathematics and actuarial science majors will be participating.

Wednesday, October 29 | 12:00p.m. – 2:00p.m. | Kent Campus Center Hubbell Hall

Macy Koch – Alumni Update

Macy Koch recent wrote an interesting article about how she uses mathematics in marketing.  Click here to read the article.

***If you graduated from Simpson College with a mathematics or actuarial science degree and would like to write an graduate update for this blog, send it (along with a current picture) to  We would happy to post it.***