Whale Lab Archive Contents

Whale Lab

Making/fabrication space meets interdisciplinary research lab.

Think mobile robot platforms and a 3D printer;
hundreds of LEDs and 17-gauge electric fence wire;
conductive thread and an embroidery machine.

Just add students, staff, and faculty and you get a learning community.



The Wheaton Autonomous Learning Makerspace is filled with people from across campus. From students in Studio Art, faculty in Anthropology, staff on the Web Team to Mathematics and Computer Science majors, library liasons, and faculty in Physics — everyone is welcome; everyone can contribute.

WHALE Residents (Summer 2012)

COMP 299 Students

Wheaton Summer Science Research

Lab Residents at Microcenter



Our growing research laboratory and makerspace is full of equipment for projects and prototyping from designing intelligent robots to making chainmail to to building the next Facebook or Google. Think of the space as a combination of great stuff from mechanics, tailors, roboticists, designers, and artists.

Making Browse around Thingiverse, download and try to model something with Blender or SketchUp, or use our NextEngine 3D Scanner to come up with something to print on our MakerBot Replicator. Talk to , get trained on the printer, and you can show others how to use it! We have lots of plastic in a rainbow of colors.

In addition, we have Arduinos, ShiftBrite LEDs, tons of single-color LEDs, Craftsman hand tools, 1/4 mile of electric fence wire, and 4 XBox Kinects. For the 2012-2013 academic year, we are planning to add a sewing machine, serger, programmable embroidery machine, and conductive thread. We may acquire a spherical etching machine; we may acquire a letterpress printing press; we may acquire a laser cutter.

Adept MobileRobots Performance Peoplebot (Summer 2012)Come and say hello to our robot. See what it can do, how to control or program it, and learn a little about Bob Balaban along the way. Think about taking Computer Science 155: Intelligent Systems (it is a QA course) to learn more about robotics and create a project with iRobot Create robots — like making them squaredance — or propose something else like building an artificial intelligence to play a Euro-style board game.

Printing a Metabiaugmented Dodecahedron

Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes

Hand Tools



If you know how to — or want to learn how to — knit, solder, weld, letterpress print, sculpt, design, or anything else where you take a glimmer of an idea and bring it to life, then you are welcome here. Come join us in making. We have hand tools, access to a machine shop, robots, computers, microphones, and more plus friendly students, staff, and faculty that want to help you — and for you to help them!

Frostburg Museum (MD) Loom During the 2012-2013 academic year, we are celebrating the Turing Centenary with a focus on the stages in the history of computing from the loom (and Babbage’s/Lovelace’s extensions from textiles to computing) to modern touch interfaces on mobile devices. Check out what equipment we have, and let us know what you want to make: Tweet to @W_H_A_L_E

Gothic cathedral


Arduino-Driven LED Display Prototype



The WHALE lab explores artificial intelligence research in the areas of machine learning and knowledge discovery in databases. We are interested in problems where humans universally demonstrate proficiency, but robots and algorithms remain outmatched by infants and skilled analysts.

Mining Massive Time Series Databases

Time Series Data MiningIncreasingly, the information stored in database systems are not those that are highly structured (e.g., webpage texts; bank transactions). Rather, databases contain massive amounts of real-valued, unstructured information. The sources for these data are diverse — security cameras; fetal heart rate monitors; sensor buoys floating in the ocean; stock tickers. Yet, humans are unable to interpret meaningfully all of these data because of the sheer volume collected. The wealth of data, combined with the resulting cognitive overload, presents an opportunity to develop novel machine learning and data mining methods. In the lab, we explore motif discovery in large time series databases, and now particularly focus on the broader task of knowledge discovery in robotic and vital signs data.

Improved Pipeline for Cognitive Robotics

Adept MobileRobots Performance Peoplebot (Summer 2012)Computational approaches to language acquisition typically decompose the problem into learning specific components (e.g., syntax, lexicon, phonology) — treating them as isolated tasks. These problem simplifications have led to disconnected solutions and algorithms with no expectation of grounded inputs. In our earlier work, we created an architecture for bootstrapping together different language learning components. We looked at ways in which different learners, typically arranged as different levels in a hierarchy (e.g., phoneme level, word level, phrase level), could share information akin to the ways that human learners acquire language. More recently, in the lab we explore ways to seed this architecture with information from the learner’s environment. We are developing methods to discover the mapping between sensor experiences and the discrete symbols used to initialize the bootstrap algorithms.


RIPTIDE System Diagram

Wheaton Summer Science Research



Sit with Me

Why Sit With Me?

“Sometimes you have to sit to take a stand. Sit With Me invites you to validate and recognize the important role women play in creating future technology by taking a small but symbolic action: sit in a red chair and share your story. Pull up a chair and listen to stories from others; men, women, technical and non-technical, as they sit in the red chair.”

Sit With Me was created by members of the National Center for Women & Information Technology, a non-profit coalition that works to increase diversity in computing and IT, with creative direction from marketing and branding firm BBMG. [Why Sit With Me?]

More about Sit With Me & Women in Computing

Unicycling and Red Chair


Red Chair and the Wheaton Seal




WHALE Lab (Science Center 1340)

WHALE Lab (Summer 2012)

The Wheaton Autonomous Learning Lab is chock-full of robots, computers, tools, and spaces to work on projects. Students, staff, and faculty work on artificial intelligence research projects and make. Students that learn to use the equipment safely have access to this space or can use the space with student mentors.

FiberSpace (Science Center 233)

Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes
We are in the midst of setting up a space for fiber and textiles. Yarn, conductive thread, sewing machines, programmable embroidery machines, etc. will populate a space where making fuses the fiber arts and technology. Come help us build Wheaton’s contribution to the Crochet Coral Reef project.

iLab (Science Center 1348)

Start of a Beowulf Cluster

The iLab is dedicated space for students to experiment, build, break, and reconfigure older equipment. Among rack-mounted machines, spare parts, and countless cables, we have 15 Dell machines that we are planning to build into a Beowulf-style cluster. Come help us turn this collection of machines into a usable computing cluster. We also have a half-dozen Apple PowerMac G5s that are beautiful cases for modern internal hardware waiting to be disassembled. Students have 24-hour access to this space and equipment.

csLab (Science Center 1315)


The csLab has 12 System76 machines that dual boot Ubuntu 12.04 (for work of all kinds) and Windows 7 (for games of all kinds). In addition, there is a server hosting user accounts and directories. The space is available for students in CS courses and those affiliated with the WHALE Makerspace to use 24-hours a day (when classes/labs are not using the room).

Machine Shop (Science Center 258)

The Machine Shop has a variety of more powerful tools for fabricating and modifying materials. For example, we have a milling machine, a drill press, and a lathe. In addition to another set of hand tools, this space opens up a world of possibilities for what you can do and make. Check with us about coming to a safety training workshop on the machine shop equipment.



Long-Exposure Photographs of iRobot Creates Dancing

Post Date: July 21, 2012

Combine deterministic programming of iRobot.

Create robots, square dancing, a large empty room, and long exposure photography and you get the following:

Students in Computer Science 155: Intelligent Systems have access to robots, microcontrollers, sensors, and plenty of computing equipment to let their imaginations explore different creative possibilities.

More about Photography

iRobot Create Robot

Board Game Library

Post Date: July 2, 2012

We have a collection of Euro-style board games available for play in the makerspace. Below is a sampling of the games available: New Donation from Rio Grande Games!

Rio Grande Games Donation

More about Games

Agricola Match (Summer 2012)

Board Game Library

Playing 7 Wonders