Making it happen

If you can imagine it, you can build it.

That’s the essential spirit of the WHALE Lab at Wheaton, an interdisciplinary space that opened in 2012 in the new Mars Center for Science and Technology.

Professor Tom Armstrong carved out the space from his research lab to create a center that allows students—and faculty and staff—to dig into the creative process of turing ideas into tangible form. Equipped with everything from Legos to a 3-D printer, the lab has been home to a number of projects, from the design of drones and computer programming to crochet and arts initiatives.

The lab was recently featured in EdTech magazine, which published an article about the growing movement of college-based makerspaces, such as Wheaton’s WHALE Lab and the University of Southern California’s Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation.

“The idea is that by providing comfortable settings with high-tech carpentry and crafting tools, visitors will hang out, collaborate, learn and become inspired to build innovative creations,” journalist Melissa Delaney wrote in the article.

That summary neatly sums up Professor Armstrong’s motivation for the lab. He told the Wheaton Quarterly:

“I see peer-to-peer learning happening in the makerspaces daily—between students, alums and faculty,” says Armstrong. “That everyone brings skills to the table and everyone is a peer reinforces lifelong learning outside of the classroom. Everybody can be expert at something and share that with people. In WHALE, the sooner that we get to, ‘I don’t know,’ the more we all learn.”

Learn more about the WHALE Lab by visiting its web site.


Making Matters—Labs engage campus in creative hands-on learning, collaboration. Wheaton Quarterly, Fall 2013. More >>