Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Diving into technology

Whenever Brandon Waltz ’11 explores the Internet, he says he is always drawn to interactive web sites that have visual special effects and lots of “other bells and whistles.”

“I always tell myself, ‘I want to do that. I want to be the one who produces something like this,’” he said.

This winter the computer major sharpened his skills to do just that. He and several other students gave up part of their winter break to take the new January Technology Immersion Program, which offered two weeks of intensive, all-day study in graphic and web design. The brainchild of faculty technology liaison Jenni Lund, the class was taught by faculty technology liaisons Patrick Rashleigh and Ken Davignon.

Park web site

Waltz dove into the web design class. Working on a team of three, he helped design a web page for “clients” Professor of Psychology Grace Baron and College Archivist Zephorene Stickney. (Another team redesigned web pages for a local food pantry.) The web page, which is located on Wheaton’s redesigned site, highlighted “The Art and Life of Jessica Park: Windows on the World of Autism” exhibit that was on display at the library from March 1 to April 11.

“I was basically the chief engineer,” said Waltz. “I had a good understanding of what the client wanted, and a good arsenal of skills, which I have gained through my major, to get it done. Our group was constrained from the start because we knew that we were essentially constructing a prototype/suggestion site that needed to fall within the recently redesigned Wheaton web site. We knew that Wheaton’s real web team might not want to use it. So designwise we didn’t have much leeway.

“The biggest challenge that I had to work through was trying to use the template that was given to us, decipher all the professional HTML and CSS code to make our changes, to make the site more or less the way we wanted it to be. So my overall goal was to make it as close to the Wheaton site as possible, and good enough.”

It was more than good enough, noted Baron, who was delighted with the design. “Brandon’s enthusiasm was evident from the start, and he, too, has helped to give us a window on the world of autism,” she said.

Kenya Bryant ’12, a sociology major, took the graphic design class. She wanted to help broaden her choices for summer opportunities.

“This summer I’m applying for internships in advertising, magazine publishing and marketing,” she said. “Most of the programs I’ve looked into ask if you have experience with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Since I’ve never been introduced to either, I thought the class would be helpful.”

The most valuable lesson she (and likely the other students) learned? “Patience,” she said. Q