Friday Funny!


Have a better math/science/teaching joke than this one? Send it in here to be posted as one of our Friday Funnies!

Piem Winners!

To celebrate Pi Day earlier this month, besides eating many different types of pie, WebAssign held a Piem Contest.  A piem is a poem that uses words with the numbers of letters that corresponds to the digits of pi.  In order to judge the piems one of our coders created a script that compares the length of each word (ignoring punctuation) to the corresponding digit of pi and checked that they match. When the digit is 0, the word could either be 10 letters long or was skipped. A summary is then displayed, along with the total number of words. piem1

Check out our winning employee piem as well as pictures from our Pi Day Celebration below!

Winning Employee Piem
by Jeremiah Smith

“Pie, a dish I enjoy consuming to finish every day.
Never creating bleakness,
Whether meat-based pie or the fructose kind
Hunger is wholly gone
(tho’ the fillings are of variant character).

Still an appetent consumer,
Know I longingly desired a creamy delicious pie
Chocolate tastiness (the supreme sweet) I enjoy
Heavenly, oh delicious caramel,
This satisfies your post feast appetites”
IMG_0206 IMG_0204
IMG_0223 IMG_0222
IMG_1215 IMG_1216 IMG_1223

15 Anniversaries 3/24 – 3/30

To celebrate WebAssign’s 15th anniversary, each Monday we will be bringing you 15 anniversaries in science, technology, mathematics, and education that you can look forward to throughout the week. Here are some important dates in history coming up this week:

March 24

1820 – French physicist A. E. Becquerel is born. Becquerel later discovers the photovoltaic effect, providing the foundation for the development of modern solar cells.

1882 – German physician Robert Koch announces his discovery of the bacterium responsible for tuberculosismycobacterium tuberculosis. Koch later receives the Nobel Prize for this discovery. Koch eventually lays the foundations for the discipline of microbiology with his publication of Koch’s Postulates, which provide a method for determining the microbiological etiology of human and animal diseases.

1896 – Russian physicist Alexander Popov makes the first radio transmission.

March 25

1655 – Dutch renaissance man Christiaan Huygens discovers Titan, the largest moon of Saturn.

1928 – American astronaut Jim Lovell is born. Lovell is later the commander of NASA’s Apollo 13 mission.

1948 – The first successful tornado forecast predicts a tornado strike at Tinker Air Force Base. The advance warning results in no injuries despite it being the most damaging tornado strike in Oklahoma up to this date.

1995 – American computer programmer Ward Cunningham makes public the world’s first wiki, WikiWikiWeb.

March 26

1773 – American mathematician Nathaniel Bowditch is born. Bowditch contributes greatly to the field of nautical navigation with his later publication of The American Practical Navigator.

March 27

1845 – German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen is born. Röntgen later receives the Nobel Prize for his work producing and detecting X-rays.

1915 – Mary Mallon, known as “Typhoid Mary”, is placed in quarantine, where she spends the remainder of her life. Mallon is the first person in the United States who is identified as an asymptomatic carrier of typhoid fever.

1998 – Viagra is approved as the first pill of its kind by the USFDA.

March 29

1929 – English pharmacologist John Vane is born. Vane later receives the Nobel Prize for his work explaining the mechanism of action of the drug aspirin.

1974 – The NASA space probe Mariner 10 becomes the first to fly by the planet Mercury.

March 30

1811 – German chemist Robert Bunsen is born. Bunsen’s work studying emission spectra of heated materials results in the discovery of the elements Cesium and Rubidium, as well as the development of the Bunsen burner.

1892 – Polish mathematician Stefan Banach is born. Banach later has a lot of things named after him.

Friday Funny!


Have a good science/math/teaching joke? We want to hear them!


WebAssign Names Five to Board of Directors

Following our decision to become a Benefit Corporation, we are pleased to announce we have named five leading North Carolina educators and business leaders from the technology industry to WebAssign’s board of directors.  Here is a brief look at each member:

Dr. John Risley, Founder and CEO, WebAssign


  • Dr. Risley, who has a physics Ph.D. from the University of Washington, has been a physics professor at North Carolina State University for the past 37 years. Under Dr. Risley’s direction in 1998, WebAssign first became commercially available as a hosted subscription service. Within a year, WebAssign quickly became the standard in online homework and grading. 

Alex Bloom, President, WebAssign


  • Bloom, who was named president of WebAssign last spring, came to the company from Appia, a Durham, NC-based mobile content distribution company, where he served as chief operating officer. Bloom graduated with a degree in commerce/marketing from the University of Virginia.

Dr. Brand Fortner, Research Professor in physics, North Carolina State University


  • A teaching professor at North Carolina State University, Dr. Fortner is considered an expert in accessible scientific visualization and in technical data formats. He previously was chief scientist of the intelligence exploitation group of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, and also held positions at NASA and at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. He earned a Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Illinois.

Petra Weishaupt-Smith, Managing Partner, Petra Financial LLC

professional image

  • Before starting her financial consulting service, Weishaupt-Smith was COO, and earlier CFO, of DigitalSmiths Corporation in Mooresville, NC. Prior to that, she was the CFO of A4 Health Systems. She graduated with a degree in accounting from Saint Leo University in Florida.

Brian Handly, CEO, StepLeader Digital

Brian Color (2)

  • Prior to joining StepLeader Digital, Handly was a general manager of Microsoft’s Online Services division and was co-founder and CEO of Accipiter before that. He holds a degree in marketing from the University of Missouri and is currently an executive in residence at North Carolina State University.

15 Anniversaries for our 15th Anniversary

To celebrate WebAssign’s 15th anniversary, each Monday we will be bringing you 15 anniversaries in science, technology, mathematics, and education that you can look forward to throughout the week. Here are some important dates in history coming up this week:

March 18

1858 – German engineer and inventor of the diesel engine Rudolf Diesel is born.

1957 – Swedish particle physicist Christer Fuglesang is born. Fuglesang later becomes the first Swedish astronaut with the European Space Agency.

1965 – Russian cosmonaut Alexey Leonov becomes the first human to take a “space walk” or “extra-vehicular activity“.

March 19

1883 – British organic chemist Norman Haworth is born. Haworth later receives the nobel prize for his work investigating carbohydrates and vitamin C.

1943 – Mexican chemist Mario Molina is born. Molina later becomes the first Mexican-born citizen to receive the nobel prize for his work on chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and discovering their damaging effects on our planet’s ozone layer.

2008 – Gamma-ray burst GRB 080319B is detected by NASA’s Swift GRB detector, and remains visible to the naked eye for about 30 seconds, making it the most distant object that could be seen by the naked eye.

March 20

1916 – Albert Einstein publishes his General Theory of Relativity.

1964 – The European Space Research Organization is established. Later the organization becomes the European Space Agency (ESA).

March 21

1768 – French mathematician and physicist Joseph Fourier is born. In addition to his transformative contributions to the field of mathematics, Fourier discovers the greenhouse effect, and his time with Napoleon in Egypt leads to the first published translation for the Rosetta Stone.

1928 – Charles Lindbergh receives the Medal of Honor for the first successful solo flight across the Atlantic ocean.

1965 – NASA launches the lunar space probe Ranger 9. The images of the lunar surface taken by Ranger 9 are broadcast live on television.

March 22

1930 – The first patent for a laser is granted to Arthur Schawlow  and Charles Townes.

1993 – Intel Corporation ships the first Pentium microprocessors. The first Pentium has a 60 MHz clock speed, 100+ MIPS, and a 64 bit data path.

March 23

1857 – The first passenger elevator invented by Elisha Otis is installed in New York City. Elevators already exist at this time, but Otis’s invention includes a contraption which prevents the elevator from plummeting should the cable break.

1965 – NASA launches the Gemini 3, the first two-man space flight by the United States.

Friday Funny

This week’s Friday Funny is another Chemistry Cat joke sent in by one of our employees.  As always, we want to hear from you!  Send in your favorite math/science/technology joke today.