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Evitts excels at math programs at Linfield and abroad

Kyle Evitts '14Kyle Evitts not only excels in mathematics, he has also travelled the world to expand his passion and knowledge on the subject.

Evitts, a junior majoring in mathematics with a computer science minor, spent last fall studying at the Budapest Semester in Mathematics program. It is a prestigious and highly competitive study abroad math program. Evitts tackled rigorous undergraduate- and graduate-level courses.

“Budapest was my first opportunity to experience true independence. Some of the classes were hard, I knew no one and I was in a new city. However, I learned a lot about math and a lot about how to live on my own,” he said.

His dedication is also shown here at Linfield. Professors and peers see Evitts as a hardworking and enthusiastic student.

“Kyle has a level of intellectual curiosity for this subject that is refreshing,” said Chuck Dunn, associate professor of mathematics. “He’s a kind, courteous and curious student that does very well in his classes, but never feels the need to show it off.”

Originally from Corvallis, Evitts’ passion for math began in high school when a teacher opened his eyes to the beauty behind the subject.

“He helped make math interesting,” said Evitts. “Parts of math yield unexpected and exciting results. It is kind of artistic in a sense, too. It isn’t all letters and logic. Just look at the beauty that comes from fractals.”

Evitts continued his academic growth as a member in the NSF-funded Willamette Valley REU-RET Consortium for Mathematics Research program at Lewis & Clark College over the summer. He was among other advanced students who were selected to participate in the program that immerses undergraduates in a challenging research experience to reveal the nature of mathematics research.

Evitts was assigned to create computer artificial intelligence that could beat Go, one of the world’s oldest board games. This task is one of the remaining challenges in creating artificial intelligence since no computer has ever been able to beat the human counterpart. Among the schools that hosted participants were Linfield, Lewis & Clark College, University of Portland and Willamette University.

Evitts later presented his research project at the Mathematical Association of America meeting for the Pacific Northwest. In addition, he was a member of Linfield’s team for The Mathematical Contest in Modeling. On a team of three, Evitts worked on an open-ended problem to find a solution. The competition lasted five days, from Jan. 31 to Feb. 4.

“This experience was especially testing,” Evitts said. “You work on this problem from the moment you wake up until the moment you fall asleep. The whole weekend is spent debating and analyzing your problem in hopes that you win the international competition.”

Evitts’ future goals include attending another session of the NSF-funded Willamette Valley REU-RET Consortium for Mathematics Research program and attending graduate school in math or computer science.

“These experiences have helped prepare me for my future,” he said. “I’ve learned the importance of teamwork and the amount of dedication it takes to become a high-level programmer. I made new friends and learned a lot about myself in the process.”