Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

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.

About Mary Howard

Mary Howard ’85 is a freelance writer and editor who lives in southeastern Connecticut.