Odd Day

by Roland Minton on November 13, 2015


The odds are that you don’t know the full significance of today’s date, November 13, 2015. Sure, it’s another Friday the 13th . (Did you know that the 13th day of the month falls on Friday more often than any other day of the week? That’s an odd fact!) More importantly, if you write the date in American order (tough luck for the odd Europeans reading this), you get 11-13-15, three consecutive odd numbers! Isn’t that great? Even spectacular? An interesting fact is that this is the last such “Odd Day” this century. So make the most of it: do something odd, be kind to odd people, find some odds and ends to give to those who find themselves odd man out. Days this odd don’t come around very often!

{ 1 comment }

Computer Science students succeed at CCSC

by Scotty Smith on November 8, 2015


Roanoke College Computer Science students sweep the top prizes at the 29th CCSC conference!

The 29th annual Consortium for Computing Sciences in College (CCSC) South-eastern regional conference was held at Roanoke College this year. Over 100 educators and students converged on the campus on November 6th and 7th, to discuss how computer science education has changed and needs to evolve. Roanoke College students achieved an unprecedented level of success at this years conference.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Students attend the conference to take part in two different competitions: the student research competition, and the student programming competition. Roanoke College had two computer science students in the research competition, and two teams in the programming competition.

The student research competition took place on Friday afternoon, beginning with poster presentations for the 12 students accepted to the competition. These 12 projects were ranked by the quality of the research and quality of the poster presentation. The top five students were invited to give an oral presentation of their research to a room full of fellow students and faculty from various institutions from the south-eastern region. These presentations were rated by the judges, and aggregated with all of the scores up to that point.

Two Roanoke College Computer Science students participated in the research competition this year: Derek LaFever (’17) and Natalie Wilkinson (’16). Derek was presenting the work he did over the past two Summers with Dr. Durell Bouchard on “Measuring Attention and Fatigue in Exergames,” while Natalie presented her 2015 Summer Scholars research she did with Mr. Scotty Smith on “Optical Music Recognition using Hidden Markov Models.” Both student performed well enough to be invited to give oral presentations of their research. In the final standings, Derek LaFever took 2nd place while Natalie Wilkinson took 1st place! Congratulations to both students for their amazing performances!


Roanoke College’s two teams at the programming competition were excited to continue their exceptional performance they have achieved over the past few years. Teams consist of up to 4 students, and 1 computer between all of them. All 30 teams at the competition were given 8 problems to solve in three hours.

We had enough students this year to field two separate teams, with our first team consisting of Thomas Lux (’16), Randall Pittman (’16), and Natalie Wilkinson (’16), and our second team consisting of Christian Moore (’17) and Elvis Choi (International).

Our second team was able to solve an astounding 5 problems, which was good enough to beat several “A” teams en-route to an 11th place outing. Which is an incredible achievement for a team of 2 in their first competition ever.

Our first team was able to officially solve 7 of the 8 provided problems. No other team solved more than 6 problems, which means that Roanoke College took 1st place in the student programming competition as well! This is the first victory for Roanoke College since 1999, and is the first plaque award since 2009!


Congratulations to all participants!


Suited to Tea

by Roland Minton on November 6, 2015


What is the social atmosphere in the MCSP department like? It is epitomized by the weekly afternoon tea in Trexler 271. Before you drag out any tired old mental clichés about socially awkward or intellectually snooty people, know that the finger most commonly raised at afternoon tea is not the pinkie. (The index finger is the answer, just in case you’re confused.) While we do drink tea (iced and hot) and munch on cookies, the dominant feature of the afternoon is fun. Card games, dice games, informal discussions of campus issues or favorite movies, and so on: this is a chance for students and faculty to mingle on equal terms. It works, and it’s fun! In a department that is known for energetic and nice people, afternoon tea is an unscripted gathering of Trexlerites who are, well, energetic and nice. Join us any Thursday afternoon between 2:15 and 3:15 (ish). See you there!


Facing Calculus Head On

October 25, 2015

What are mathematics classes like at Roanoke College? Different. Challenging. Fun. To take one example, Calculus 2 has a regular lab. What in the world is done in a calculus lab? Among other topics, we look at rabbit and fox populations, baseballs and golf balls in motion, a cube that curves, and the classic video […]

Read the full article →

S is for Soccer

October 20, 2015

The Physics Group came out in force to support its soccer players on Saturday, 10/10. The stars aligned for a day at Kerr Stadium, as both women’s and men’s teams had home games. Two of the starters on each team are Physics majors, with forward Linnea Kremer and defender Dio Beck joining goalkeepers Sarah Dvorak […]

Read the full article →

Showcasing MCSP

October 13, 2015

Phillip Barbolla explains his research to an interested student. What is life like at Roanoke College? Busy! A full weekend got started on Friday, 10/9, at Fintel Library with the Experiential Learning Showcase. All three MCSP disciplines were well represented as Phillip Barbolla from math, Dio Beck from physics, and Natalie Wilkinson from computer science […]

Read the full article →

Physics (and chemistry) outreach to West Salem Elementary

September 3, 2015

As part of the West Salem Elementary afterschool enrichment program, physics majors Linnea Kremer (2017, Left), Sarah Dvorak (2016, Center), and Hannah Lyle (2017, Right) led a course on physics and chemistry concepts in February 2015.  This was the fourth semester in a row that Roanoke College physics students and/or professors had taught an enrichment […]

Read the full article →

Roanoke College RoboCup

April 23, 2015

The Roanoke College Robotics course (CPSC 310A) completed their final exam on Thursday morning. Their exam was a simplified version of the international RoboCup. Each student was tasked with designing, building, and programming a robot using Arduino microcontrollers (essentially a low power, simplistic computer), motors, various sensors, 3d printed components, and a lot of wires […]

Read the full article →

Rich Grant’s New Role

April 21, 2015

Rich Grant, Associate Dean There are those who say that a faculty member who takes on administrative duties has turned to The Dark Side. I would never say such a thing. Rich Grant is trading in his Physics faculty duties for a term as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Student Engagement. Roanoke College will […]

Read the full article →

Mod Art

April 7, 2015

Those of us of a certain (large) age will remember the colorful mod art of the late 1960s; think Peter Max or the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine. Professor Jan Minton’s HNRS 301: Mathematics and Art class has decorated a Trexler stairwell with what is truly mod art. Modular arithmetic, that is. An example of modular arithmetic […]

Read the full article →