MUMS – Plenary Talks Announced

We have two exciting plenary talks planned for the eleventh annual Midwest Undergraduate Mathematics Symposium (MUMS 2014).  Dr. Jitka Stehnova will present The Beauty of Math about the aesthetic nature of mathematics and Dr. Kathryn Leonard will present Shape Modeling with Industry and Undergraduates about automated object recognition.

For more information, visit the MUMS 2014 website.

The Beauty of Math
Friday, April 11, 2014, 7:00pm, Jordan Lecture Hall (Carver 215)
Dr. Jitka Stehnova
Mount Mercy University

Shape Modeling with Industry and Undergraduates
Saturday, April 12, 2014, 9:00am, Jordan Lecture Hall (Carver 215)
Dr. Kathryn Leonard
California State University Channel Islands

First Annual Pi-K!

Help Math Club & Tri Club Celebrate National Pi Day by running in our First Annual Pi-K!! (3.14 kilometers is approximately 1.95 miles.) Answer math questions before your run/walk to take time off of your run/walk!

When: Friday, March 21st at 4:45pm

Where: Starts and ends at Carver Science

Why: First 3 finishers will receive gift cards for pie at Funaros! There will be games and pie for everyone!

Image from

Math Club Meeting Minutes

Math Club Meeting Minutes

2/25/2014 at 4:30 p.m. with Tri Club in the lounge area outside of the fitness center in Kent

We made decisions about the PiK walk/run.

Event Date and Time: 3/21 at 4:45 p.m.

General plan: The PiK is a celebration of Pi Day. We will gather in Carver Atrium at 4:45 and spend 15 minutes solving 3 quantitative reasoning difficulty math problems. For each question right, a participant will receive 30 seconds off of his or her race time. Then we will run or walk 3.14 kilometers, which is 1.95 miles. Afterwards there will be pie, water, games, and announcement of winners in the Carver Atrium. Gift cards for Funaros will be given to the top 3 winners – $25, $15, and $10.

Our budget is $160. We will spend $60 on the gift cards and $100 on the pie and water.


  • Kelly will order and pick up the pies and gift cards from Funaros.
  • Geoff will design the route, which will be 3.14 kilometers and begin and end at Carver.
  • Taylor and Kelly will chalk the route the day of and include fun math designs.
  • We will not have people positioned around the route to direct runners.
  • Kylie and Kelly will design the math questions.
  • Matt and Nick will keep track of participant names, times, and time reductions.
  • Taylor will start advertising the week before Spring Break. We will reach out to faculty and staff to participate.
  • Nick will contact Nicole Darling with Intramurals to borrow beanbags and ladder golf. ​

Women in America Lecture – March 5

This year’s Women in America Lecture will feature historian Victoria Bissell Brown (L.F. Parker Professor of History, Grinnell College) speaking about her research on American social reformer Jane Addams.  The lecture, which kicks off Women’s History Month, will be Wednesday, March 5 at 1 PM, in Hubbell Hall-Kent Campus Center.

Computer Science Department News

Contained in this news update:

  • How do I know if I should sign up for a 1-credit capstone or a 4-credit capstone?
  • Student Awards
  • Internships
  • What is CIS 390?
  • Update on the Tetris Board
  • Summer Research

How do I know if I should sign up for a 1-credit capstone or a 4-credit capstone?

  • If you are working an internship, sign up for 1-credit.
  • If you have a 4-credit capstone in a different major (like math) and you are using computer science in it, you can use the 1-credit capstone.
  • Otherwise, sign up for 4 credits.
  • 1-credit capstones send in weekly reports and have a presentation at the end.
  • 4-credit capstones meet at least once a week with the professor, need to turn in weekly things that have been done, and have a presentation at the end.

 Student Recognition

National Conferences on Undergraduate Research: Three separate groups of Simpson Students are traveling to an NCUR conference to do a poster presentations on their research.  This is a highly selective conference where there were over 4,000 submissions. To have all three groups get selected out of that is impressive. Please congratulate Tony Clark, Jamie Ethington, Adrian Gibson, Louis Joslyn, Thomas Klein, Kendra Klocke, Abby Lantzky, Kyle Reimers, and Connor Uhlman.

Midwest Instruction and Computing Symposium: Louis Josyln, Adrian Gibson and Thomas Klein got their demonstration of “Calculating the Melting Temperature of Linker DNA” accepted to the 2014 MICS conference.


A 1997 alumni from Homesteaders Life Company is looking for software interns! Currently we are setting up a time for him to come in. He will be at the Kent Campus Center from 11 am until 2 pm. Even if you aren’t looking for an internship, drop by to learn what it is like to work there.

 Update on the popular question “What is CIS 390?”

  • This class will be offered in the Fall of 2014.
  • The end-goal, work with a team to create your own game using the Unity Game Engine.
  • It is a web-based course. The first part will involve video tutorials.
  • It is a team-based project.
  • Most of the class will involve regular meetings with your team, and then working together as a team to create a project.
  • Grades will be done individually based on the assets and programming done during the prior week.
  • Programming will be done in C#. Modeling will typically be done in Blender. Having experience in either of those would be good.
  • If you like highly structured and very specific assignments, this course is not for you.
  • If you have difficulty getting things done and turned in, this course is not for you.
  • If you want to work hard with a group of other students and create something truly awesome, maybe even something that could be sold, this is the class for you.
  • Prerequisite is CMSC 150. I recommend Junior or Senior standing. If you aren’t yet at that stage, but you think you can program like your are, that is ok. Having C# or Blender experience is a plus.
  • I will send out information closer to summer on tutorials and other ways you can prepare. If you’d like to get the boring tutorial stuff out of the way during the summer and leave the fun programming to the Fall, that’s an option.

 Update on the Tetris Board

Progress continues on a giant Tetris board. See Dr. Craven if you want to help program it!

Students work to put together a giant Tetris Board

Students work to put together a giant Tetris Board


Summer Research

The University of Illinois is pleased to once again host the Passionate on Parallel Research Experience for Undergraduates for summer 2014. This NSF funded program will bring 10 undergraduate students to the top 5 ranked Computer Science department at Illinois for a 10 week program of hands-on research focused on the application of Parallel Programming to real-world issues. Participants will be mentored by Illinois faculty and their research teams and will also participate in a series of seminars on the research experience. No prior experience with parallel programming is required.


PROGRAM DATES: June 2 – August 8, 2014


Undergraduate Research – Midterm Presentations

You are invited to the midterm presentations given by our senior mathematics students enrolled in Math 385 or Math 386.  The students in Math 385 are working on undergraduate research projects one-on-one with a faculty mentor.  The students in Math 386 completed a summer internship or research experience and are communicating the interesting mathematics learned during the experience with the Simpson community.  The talks will be held on Tuesday, March 4 from 11:20-12:50 in Carver 205.  The following students will be speaking:

  1. Taylor Johnson
  2. Mike Rundle
  3. Mike Henry – Death of a Star
  4. Jamie Ethingon
  5. Kylie Van Houten


Kevin Concannon Speaks with WHO-TV During his Visit to Simpson

Kevin Concannon, the Undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services for the U.S. Department of Agriculture spoke with Simpson students last week about his role overseeing the SNAP (Food Stamp) program and careers in public service.

While at Simpson, WHO-TV was able to catch up with Concannon for “Three Minutes in the Chair.” The interview discussed the passing of the Farm Bill, changes to the Food Stamp program and Concannon’s past experience with the State Juvenile Home in Toldeo.

It’s a great interview and the Culver Center was honored to host Concannon for the afternoon. Check out the video here: WHO-TV Three Minutes: Former DHS Head Kevin Concannon.

Iowa Attorney General Visits with Simpson Students

Story by Rachel Peterson, Simpsonian Staff Writer

The longest serving state Attorney General visited Simpson last week at the Culver Center.

Tom Miller talked to seven students, including Culver Fellows, about public service and his time as Iowa Attorney General. His visit is part of a series of Iowa politicians sponsored by the Culver Center.

“We want Simpson students to be exposed to national leaders, local leaders, and civic minded people to have a chance to have personal contact with them and get a better idea of what their jobs are,” said Ray Walton, Executive Director of the Culver Center.

Walton’s hope is that if students are exposed to responsible leaders, they will become civic minded citizens. “Young people have only seen hateful and mean politics. We would like them to be exposed to civil discourse,” he said.

Miller’s political journey began with inspiration from the Kennedy family. “President Kennedy was elected when I was in high school. Robert Kennedy was someone who I admired a great deal. The one of the three that I knew was Sen. Ted Kennedy. I was very involved in his campaign when he ran for President and inspired by his great vision and his desire to do big things for the public,” he said.

Miller was also inspired by Sen. Culver, whose namesake was given to the Culver Center. “He was my mentor. He had an extraordinary energy, drive and work ethic and incredible integrity and principles,” Miller said.

Miller’s office includes 240 employees. Lawyers make up nearly 60 percent of these employees.

Miller gave an overview of what his duties are including assisting politicians with litigation and the law and helping county attorneys with criminal cases. Miller thinks his most important duty, however, is public service.

“To be able to use the law to serve the interest of ordinary Iowans is a wonderful thing to do and when I’m done at the end of the day, I feel good about what I’ve done or what I’m trying to do,” he said.

Miller echoed Walton’s belief that the younger generation has only seen “hateful politics.” Miller thinks that change is coming and bipartisanship will be restored.

Miller thinks young people are key in the political process. “It’s particularly important for young people because they are the ones who we are going to depend on for a long time,” he said. “Young people have a little bit more idealism that those who are older.”

Public Service Success: Bill Northey Visits with Simpson Students

One man and his passion for Iowa’s agriculture led to a life of dedicated service. Bill Northey, Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture, spoke about his career in public service with a crowd of about 20 students and faculty Feb. 12 at the John C. Culver Public Policy Center.

Northey is a 1981 Iowa State University graduate who went back home to farm after college. He learned a lot from working on the family farm, and dabbled with politics as he watched his father be involved with various agriculture associations.

Northey has a strong line of family members involved in organizations including Iowa Farm Bureau and Iowa Corn Growers. He admired his grandfather’s work with these organizations and he saw the “rewarding nature and influence of public service,” Northey said.

“Being able to influence what happens is important. My father was elected County Supervisor and he probably had more of an impact on people than I will. Being closely connected with people of the county where everyone knows you was a rewarding experience for my father and I watched how rewarding that was,” Northey said.

Northey described the current state of Iowa agriculture in his speech to students. “Agriculture is a huge entity. Iowa’s crop production is world class and we have been the top corn producer 10 years in a row. The economic impact is amazing for the state,” Northey said.

As the current legislative session is in full swing, Northey has some work to do to accomplish the goals his department has this term. Their biggest push is for water quality across the state. They are asking for a little over $6 million this year to work toward better water for Iowa’s people, as well as other initiatives.

Northey loves his job and the 335 employees he works with at the Department of Agriculture. The department handles gas pump inspections as well as feed, fertilizer, meat and dairy inspections.

“Getting around Iowa and meeting people, seeing what they are doing and finding out new things to share across the state to help other folks is one of my favorite parts of the job,” Northey said.

Northey has been around public service his entire life, but while in college he never thought he would be doing what he does today. Through his experience Northey has seen how accessible public service is to young people. He shares his advice with students with aspirations of political involvement or public service in general.

“So many young people don’t get engaged in public service. There is room at all levels of involvement. You need to be grounded in why you are doing it though. Everyone has that something they are passionate about and know more than others,” Northey said.

“Step out and engage yourself. Sometimes it will be uncomfortable, but it gets less scary. You just need to get out there and try.”

Northey is up for re-election this fall and plans to run again. His campaign has raised money so far, but hasn’t had too many events since Northey already travels the state on a regular basis. More events will be coming as the election draws closer.

Northey loves his job and is excited for another chance to serve Iowans. He said,“I can’t get enough of finding out what’s happening and helping people. If you love what you do you never have a day of work, and I am lucky to have that opportunity.”

Computer Science Club Gets New Shipment of Robot Parts

Simpson students got a new shipment of robot parts to get ready for the next MICS robot competition!

Computer Science Club Robot