Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Making matters

Labs engage campus in creative hands-on learning, collaboration

WHALE LabLast semester, when William Cohen ’13 needed to tackle a term paper for his “Philosophy and Literature” course, he found help in an unexpected place—a box of Legos in the Wheaton Autonomous Learning Laboratory (WHALE Lab), courtesy of founder Professor Tom Armstrong.

“I spent a lot of time building things with Tom’s Legos,” says Cohen, who majored in English with a minor in studio art and computer science. “I find that focusing on some sort of immediate, often mechanical or tactile problem (such as building something with Legos), lets me work through larger, abstract problems. Some sort of organic problem solving happens when I’m otherwise occupied.”

Scattered about the WHALE research lab and FiberSpace, those Legos may seem like toys—well, they are—but they also are important brainteasers, notes Armstrong, assistant professor of computer science. “The goal is to create an environment of play and experimentation, to remind students, staff members and faculty that whimsy is important in fostering the joy of learning, and to encourage everyone to think differently about what ‘college’ is,” says Armstrong, who also founded FiberSpace. [Read more...]

Go Beyond: Progress in numbers

Science center: 

$36,118,382 committed to expanding and enhancing science facilities through the Mars Center for Science and Technology.

Goal: $35 million

Student scholarships: 

$45,339,901 committed to increasing scholarship support for Wheaton students and their families.

Goal: $50.6 million

Annual support: 

$30,998,428 contributed to the Wheaton Fund since July 1, 2005. Alumnae/i, parents and friends have committed $1,248,159 since July 1, 2013.

Goal: $4.3 million for fiscal year 2014 (ending on June 30, 2014); $34.4 million by June 30, 2014

Student-faculty research: 

$1,408,388 committed to support student-faculty research collaborations through the establishment of endowed funds for that purpose.

Artificial turf field: 

Construction by fall 2013 of an artificial turf field and lighting to expand opportunities for intercollegiate, club and intramural sports.

Goal: $3,865,000 [Read more...]

Women in technology

Alums shine in industry that needs diversity

When is a chair not just a chair? When it’s used for taking a stand. That’s what members of the Wheaton community discovered during the winter semester when the Sit With Me project was brought to campus by Colleen Wheeler, assistant director of Wheaton’s Web Strategy Team and one of the founders, with Professor Tom Armstrong, of the Wheaton Autonomous Learning Laboratory (WHALE Lab).

Sit With Me is a national advocacy campaign designed to encourage women to pursue computing careers. Sitting in a red chair, participants have an opportunity to show their support and share stories about women in technology. The project perfectly corresponds with one of the goals of the WHALE Lab—to broaden the interest in computer science beyond those who major in it.

Information technology is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the U.S. economy, with 1.4 million job openings expected by 2020. Although women make up more than half of the American workforce, they hold only 25 percent of technology and computing jobs, according to the National Center for Women & Information Technology, the creator of Sit With Me.

In the spirit of the 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. Click on their names for short biography.

Sharon Callahan ’84


  • CEO of LLNS at Omnicom Group
  • EVP of Omnicom Group, New York [Read more...]