Students create games, iPod apps

Students create games, iPod apps

by Kelly Gerdts

Simpson’s computer science students have busy creating everything from video games to 3D movies to iPhone applications.

“Computer science is the hidden ‘gem’ of degree programs,” said Paul Craven, assistant professor of computer science. “Students thrive using technology. They know there is a lot of money and demand in the job fields. Yet few students sign up for computer science classes.”

Junior Ethan Eller thinks it is a lack of knowledge rather than desire.

“I really want our department to expand and a lot of people just don’t really know about our department,” Eller said. “They don’t really realize what we do…We do more than that, we physically build a computer, and I just want people to understand that.”

Eller created an iPod app for his CIS 260 class in which users play whack-a-mole with the head of Steve Jobs. The more hits you make the faster the game goes. He hopes to ultimately turn his computer science degree into a career similar to the Catch Fire Media internship he has applied for.

“I like to do a bunch of things at once,” Eller said. “I don’t want to be stuck just doing one thing like programming. With this internship that I’m applying to its web development, its mobile application development, its software support, writing your own custom software, possibly building systems, it’s a bunch of different jobs because it’s a smaller firm so you have to kind of do it because you don’t have it spread out, but I like doing stuff like that, I like being able to do many things at once.”

Sophomore Steven Mildenstein created a video game for his final project in CMSC 150 this fall. In the game the player is Mario and must escape from the traditional Super Mario bad guys. Mildenstein recently changed his major to computer information services and became a member of the computer science department.

“I wanted to be a pre-engineering major when I was a big skateboarder, so I wanted to design skate parks and that kind of stuff,” Mildenstein said. “Then as I got too old to skateboard I decided to find something else that would interest me. My dad is really good with computers and taught me a lot of stuff, like he built his own computer basically. So he taught me a lot of stuff before I ever decided. I thought that would be a good thing to look into and I ended up really liking it so I stuck with it.”

You don’t have to be a major like Eller and Mildenstein to enjoy the benefits of the computer science department. Juniors Autumn Girres and Amanda Ambrose, developed a 3D movie as a part of their May term class.

“I had heard about it from other students and I also thought it sounded like a fun, unique experience,” Girres said. “It was a great experience if a student is looking for something to do for May term.”

There are multiple levels of computer science classes available to all of Simpson’s students to help gain the skills necessary in today’s job market.

“Our department has the strongest demand from the evening students, students who have gone out into the workforce after getting a degree and realized that the top paying jobs are going to those with technology knowledge,” Craven said. “The smart students take technology classes before they graduate. Even if computer science isn’t your main field, it is ideal to take several classes to get that background.”

More information about the computer science department can be found on their website at along with a showcase of the projects that students have created.