When Professor Pavel Naumov offered his senior Computer Science majors the opportunity to design and program a robot for their capstone projects, Shannon Jackson couldn’t resist the challenge. The traditional project of inventing and programming a game would have been a challenge too, but the robot intrigued Jackson, who has a double major in Mathematics and Computer Science. She decided to use the Lego Mindstorm kit to build and program a robot to solve the Rubik’s Cube.

“I wanted to do something people would understand – something everyone could relate to,” Jackson said, explaining that math and computer science are generally perceived as abstract and complex. The commonly recognized puzzle would provide a connection. Besides, she said, this was something she could build and see the concepts at work. Her first step was to write the program using the known algorithm, the set of steps that solves a problem – in this case, the Rubik’s Cube. “My math major proved to be incredibly helpful since the construction of the robot relies on geometry, specifically angles",” said Jackson, who is also doing a Mathematics capstone on prime numbers – a number that is only divisible by one and itself – and an independent study in cryptography. “It’s interesting that 1867, the year our school was founded, is a prime number.” ...