News and Events

FURSCA Student Rolls the Dice on Research

Jacob Engel, '13Jacob Engel, '13, is serious about play—as it relates to casino gaming, that is. Engel spent the summer studying odds and payouts as a participant in Albion's Foundation for Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity (FURSCA). A mathematics and computer science major, Engel is studying the statistics that underlie gaming through developing (and possibly marketing) unique casino games of his own.

At the suggestion of his FURSCA adviser, mathematics professor Mark Bollman, Engel started with Spider Craps, his own variation of the classic casino game played with eight-sided dice. Engel spent a couple weeks writing a computer program that created some 70,000 dice rolls. With this data, Engel adjusted the winning and losing combinations to give Spider Craps a house edge between 2 and 4 percent, in line with other casino games.

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Chemistry Majors' FURSCA Experience Includes Space Center Visit

Vanessa McCaffrey, Erica Bennett, Casey Waun, and Nicolle Zellner visited the Johnson Space Center this summer.Vanessa McCaffrey, Erica Bennett, Casey Waun, and Nicolle Zellner visited the Johnson Space Center this summer.A number of Albion College students remain on campus every summer to complete scholarly work funded by the Foundation for Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity (FURSCA). The summer experiences of chemistry majors Erica Bennett, ’13, and Casey Waun, ’13 were enhanced when they joined professors Vanessa McCaffrey and Nicolle Zellner on a trip to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, where they conducted experiments to investigate the role of impacts on simple organic molecules.

The research, funded by grants from NASA’s Astrobiology Institute and the American Astronomical Society, is to examine how organic molecules change in impact events. The Albion delegation and Johnson technicians worked together to use the center’s hypervelocity impact technology to “shock” a sample of sugars by firing a projectile at a metal target holding the sample. The pressure from the impact of a projectile hitting the target’s steel plug has the ability to change the sugar placed inside the target, which the scientists hope will provide insight to the origin of life.

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