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What’s so cool about puzzles?
I came to puzzles as a mathematician, because mathematics is the art of solving problems, and puzzle design is the art of creating fun problems to solve.
There are many types of puzzle out there, and I’ve spent a lot of time designing and enjoying them.
I’ve been involved in puzzling as a hobbyist and professional since 2009. I’m particularly interested in puzzlehunts: large-scale events which involve teams of players solving puzzles, which can end up sending them across an entire campus or town to find the solution. I’ve also gotten involved in escape rooms more recently, as both a designer and player.
A few of my projects can be found below.
Auburn Puzzle Community
I played and won my first Auburn Puzzle Party in 2009, and lead a team of puzzle designers to create Auburn Puzzle Parties 4 and 5 from 2010-2012. I’ve also developed multiple Auburn Puzzle Potluck concepts putting designers in head-to-head competition.
I retired from competitive puzzling in Auburn in 2016. During my tenure, I tied the community record for most first place wins, and I still hold the longest active streak of the first place wins in Auburn community puzzlehunts. My trophies include four Eric’s Puzzle Parties and two Auburn Puzzle Parties.
In 2012, I teamed with fellow AU graduate student Braxton Carrigan to create the Auburn Mathematical Puzzle (AMP’d) Challenge.
Our goal was to expose mathematical topics traditionally underrepresented in grade school classrooms to middle school students. More importantly, we wanted to present mathematics as critical thinking and problem solving in a fun enviornment, rather than the rote memorization of rules and formulas. Not only that, but it was a great way to introduce students to Auburn University’s campus, i.e. a great recruiting tool.
AMP’d has been a huge success at Auburn, mostly thanks to the continued support from current AU mathematics graduate students who develop the game from year to year. Auburn now runs annual events for both middle school and high school students at capacity.
Mathematical Puzzle Programs
Due to the ridiculous success of AMP’d at Auburn, I saw a demand for expanding the availability for these sorts of educational experiences across the country. To meet this demand I founded Mathematical Puzzle Programs (MaPP), and thanks to the hard work of several colleagues who collaborated with me on this venture, we launched in spring 2016 with high school puzzle competitions at five diffrent college campuses from Texas to Connecticut.
As Director of MaPP, I will double that number in 2017, including an expansion to Japan and the introduction of a middle school competition in partnership with the AMP’d Challenge.
The National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath)
I am a frequent consultant with the National Museum of Mathematics, including designing MoMath’s Dimensions Puzzle Hunt 2016, an annual puzzle challenge held on the museum’s campus in New York City, and talking about game theory for their Family Fridays outreach program.
Leadership in the Zombie Apocolypse
In partnership with The Leaders Foundry I developed a puzzle challenge for people managers in their “Leadership in the Zombie Apocolypse” training. The Leaders Foundry uses this event as a final test of the skills they cover in their People Manager Developer Program.
I designed Von Braun’s Puzzlehunt, sponsored by Escape Pod of Huntsville, AL and based on their featured escape room. This five-hour hunt took place across the City of Huntsville during November 2016.
I’m a regular contributer to Escape Zones in Auburn, AL. I’ve playtested every room they’ve opened to the public, and I collaborated with Eric Harshbarger on their first champions’ room, a variation on the traditional escape room format of my own design.
I co-founded the Huntsville, AL chapter of Puzzled Pint with my friend and colleague Tracy Cobbs. Puzzled Pint is available in cities world-wide, providing free puzzles at local pubs on the second Tuesday of each month. We launched the Huntsville chapter in June 2016, and broke the international record for attendance at a chapter’s first event. I also designed a puzzle for Puzzled Pint’s election-themed November 2016 event.
JoCo Cruise 2016
I contributed an original puzzle for the 2016 JoCo Cruise Puzzlehunt, organized by my friends/colleagues Charles and Erin McPillan.
Super Mario Maker
I’ve designed several single-screen puzzle courses for Super Mario Maker (along with some more traditional platformers), available on the Super Mario Maker Bookmark Site. Finally, my childhood dream of making Mario courses has come true!
Zero Time Dilemma
I wrote a detailed spoiler-free guide for progressing the narrative of the visual novel Zero Time Dilemma. I like to think of it as the hint system the designers should have included in the game.