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Mathematics and computer science ‘revamped’

Kaylin Smith
The end of the spring semester was an exciting time of year for seniors in the mathematics and computer science department, according to assistant professor Logan Mayfield.

“Our students are developing two apps for the iPhone/iPod, one for Android devices, a ‘World of Warcraft’ add-on, a 3D first-person shooter game, and a program to clean up duplicate files from music libraries,” he said last spring.

Mayfield also worked with Mike Steese ’13 and Alex Brooks ’13 on developing applications to help the Scots Roast Coffee project manage orders and inventory. The project involved creating applications that were “built on top of a Google Apps platform and meant to run ‘in the cloud,’” said Mayfield.

Seniors in the department engage in year-long projects and are given the option of working in a group or individually to propose a software development or research project. Previously semester-long, the capstone experience has been extended so that the students may formulate and develop their proposals in the fall and then carry them out in the spring. The course’s flexibility allows students to produce a culmination of the efforts in a unique and individual way.

Adjusting the capstone timeline is just one of several efforts that have been made in the mathematics and computer science department to improve the educational experience for MC students. Mayfield explained that during the four years he has taught at Monmouth, he has noticed many improvements, including a revamping of introductory courses; a focus on program design and analysis skills as well as a variety of programming languages; and the introduction of a 300-level course on artificial intelligence. Another exciting opportunity for students is a series of internship experiences available at Caterpillar, HON Industries and the IT department at Bridgeway in Galesburg.

Mayfield has experienced the large and small ends of the higher education spectrum, graduating from DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind., before earning his Ph.D at the University of Cincinnati.

“It didn’t take me long to decide that the close-knit community that is the private, liberal arts college was definitely where I wanted to end up,” he said. Noting the importance of MC’s small classroom sizes, he added, “Learning is hard; it requires a kind of push and pull between the teacher and the students that can be hard to generate in a larger setting.”

Mayfield encourages majors in his department to consider teaching in their futures.

“Computing technology is playing an ever-increasing role in our personal and professional lives. The support and development of that technology makes the computing industry a field that is in constant need of skilled labor. That also means that there is always a need for people to train and educate the future computing labor force.”