found somewhere online a version of the e^x approximation that was easier to interpret than the one my teacher gave (at least for me)

here is the resulting loop:

//50 times through series calculation
        for(int i = 1; i < 50; i++) {
            subtotal *= x / i;  //x is the exponent part and i is the factorial
            ex += subtotal; //sum
compared it to the value of
Math.pow(Math.E, x);
and they were VERY similar!!! woot