Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

A work of heart

Professor emeritus, brother create ceremonial pieces

The maces and their makerFor the past two years, Professor of Psychology Emeritus David Wulff has been engaged in a project of the heart. With the help of his brother, Bernard—an architect, artist and woodworker—Wulff designed and created two ceremonial maces, symbols of authority used worldwide in formal processions at colleges and universities and on parliamentary occasions.

“They are my parting gift to Wheaton,” says Wulff, who retired in 2012 after 43 years at the college. The maces were used for the first time at the inauguration.

It was at his last Convocation that Wulff had an epiphany. Filling in as marshal for the ceremony, he carried a small, unassuming white baton. “I started thinking that Wheaton really needed a proper ceremonial mace, the ornamental descendant of the armor-piercing weapons once used to protect reigning monarchs,” he says.

Wulff wanted something worthy of the college he holds so dear. “Too many maces look like bedposts,” he says. After researching maces at other institutions, the brothers came up with the idea of a gyroscope to hold the college seal atop the mace. Guided by a picture of an antique gyroscope, Wulff created a prototype “constructed of embroidery hoops, gold paint, and a paper seal” that he presented to head administrators at Wheaton. [Read more...]

Standing against violence

Snapshots vigil_DSC2057The Feminist Association of Wheaton this winter held a candlelight vigil in support of all who have experienced sexual or domestic violence.

Photo by Charles Wang ’15

Christina Nelson ’11

Christina Nelson ’11

  • Systems engineer
  • Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems, Portsmouth, R.I.

Christina Nelson is responsible for the software integration and testing on a new class of Navy destroyer. Working for defense contractor Raytheon, she and her team take software from various development groups, put it all together and make sure it works as designed. After integrating all the software, finding problems and testing solutions, she and her team communicate with Navy officials and run tests to make sure the software meets the Navy’s standards.

When she came to Wheaton, she had no experience in computer science and didn’t see herself in a technology career, but that changed the summer after her freshman year. While working on the Lexomics project with Professor of Computer Science Mark LeBlanc, she became “hooked on programming.” (Lexomics is the analysis of the frequency, distribution and arrangement of words in large-scale patterns.)

Women in technology
In the spirit of the Sit With Me project, the Quarterly is showcasing several alumnae working in the industry. Coming from backgrounds that include a variety of majors and working in a wide range of jobs, from designing Navy destroyers to creating educational software, they illustrate the many opportunities available and the many paths into the field that a liberal arts education offers.

“I liked seeing that you could use new methods to solve old problems,” she says. She went on to a major in computer science and mathematics. Professor LeBlanc recommended her for a summer internship at Raytheon, and a full-time position followed.

“My liberal arts education taught me how to problem solve, pulling from different experiences when trying to find a solution,” she says. “Having studied a wide variety of subjects at Wheaton, I feel comfortable taking on tasks that involve more than just a software background.” With less than one year on the job, she was asked to be the primary author on the testing her team performed.

Pamela “Pam” Perkins Au ’81

Pamela “Pam” Perkins Au ’81

  • Director, information technology quality and compliance strategy
  • Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, N.J.

Pam Au didn’t expect to work in technology, but an opportunity to be a pioneer in the early ’80s changed her mind. After interning for Congresswoman Margaret Heckler, the government major was offered a position in business applications programming at Merrill Lynch.

“Wall Street was making a huge investment in technology. There were few women in IT in the brokerage industry, and it was an opportunity to learn, grow and develop,” she says.

She went through a 12-week training program, learning COBOL and other programming languages. “It was really technical,” she says. “To this day, I am so proud of making it through that training.”

Women in technology
In the spirit of the Sit With Me project, the Quarterly is showcasing several alumnae working in the industry. Coming from backgrounds that include a variety of majors and working in a wide range of jobs, from designing Navy destroyers to creating educational software, they illustrate the many opportunities available and the many paths into the field that a liberal arts education offers.

Now Au is responsible for the development and execution of Johnson & Johnson’s global IT quality and compliance strategy. She recently led a team to transform the way IT systems and services are delivered by streamlining the systems development life-cycle process and making it more user-friendly.

“As a liberal arts major, I learned to look at things holistically,” she says. “[Professor of Political Science] Darlene Boroviak taught me not to set boundaries.”

With more than 30 years in IT, Au enjoys serving as a mentor to young women and men interested in technology careers. “It’s what I love most about my job,” she says. “Everything I’ve accomplished, I’ve accomplished by working with people in teams.”