Skip to:Main Content

Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University

An Ideal Environment

The IQ Center

from The Bridge: Winter 2014 issue

Aaron Abrams, assistant professor of mathematics, and Helen I'Anson, head of the Biology Department and director of the IQ Center, with products of the center's 3-D printer.The first phase of the new Integrative and Quantitative (IQ) Center at Washington and Lee is complete. Featuring up-to-the-minute technology and instruments, the IQ Center is devoted to data acquisition, data storage, computation, visual imaging and innovative teaching methods. The center, on the ground floor of the Telford Science Library, is supported by a $1 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and by $600,000 from individual donors.

"This generation is one of the most technologically savvy of all generations," said Helen I'Anson, professor of biology and head of the Biology Department, who is directing the program. "So we want to use technology to get students excited about science and see that it isn't scary, that it's obtainable for them and how important it will be for their future."

Alison and Jamie Small '81, P '15For science majors, exposing them to new technologies that are already available at large companies will increase their competitiveness, according to Jamie Small '81, P'15, a geology major, from Midland, Texas. He is a former president of the W&L Alumni Board and a current member of the Science Advisory Board and W&L's Campaign Cabinet. Small and his wife, Alison, a geophysicist, support the sciences at W&L and are enthusiastic investors in the IQ Center and many other University priorities.

"We're in the oil and gas business, and we know that the imaging and technology that are in the IQ Center are extraordinarily important for our line of work," says Jamie Small. "The quicker students learn how to use this technol- ogy, the better off they'll be moving forward through their advanced degrees and into the work force."

Father and son George Young '54 and Marshall Young '85 wanted to support the IQ Center because their W&L education was instrumental in their success in their professional careers in the oil and gas industry. "I'm the second generation to graduate from the W&L Geology Department," says Marshall Young, of Fort Worth, Texas, "so my family has always supported it." Young's two uncles also graduated from W&L in geology, Kelly Young '58 and former W&L trustee Frank Young '66, who established an award in the subject.

Marshall Young '85 and George Young '54"Technology changes so rapidly," Young continues. "I strongly believe that it is vital to educate young scientists and expose them at the undergraduate level to the latest technology that will be germane to their careers or graduate work."

"This center is a way to give our kids a leg up; it's a valuable asset. There's lots of potential for non-science majors as well," Small says. "I can see art majors wanting to make use of this space and work with the 3-D imaging. Students can easily interact in groups with smart boards. This happens in business every day now. We're very excited about the potential uses for the space, for the students, faculty and community."

"The IQ Center is a state-of-the-art teaching and learning space where interdisciplinary questions can be tackled and answers sought through collaboration," adds Suzanne Keen, dean of the College and the Thomas H. Broadus Professor of English. "Not just science majors but all students at W&L will now have the opportunity to manipulate and visualize information acquired through the scientific method."

The Hundleys: David '79, Caroline and Hal '14Caroline and David Hundley '79, of Dallas, parents of Hal Hundley '14 (the third generation of the Hundley family to attend W&L), agree about the center's capabilities. "We supported the IQ Center because it will enable W&L to continue to attract exceptional science students as well as faculty," they say. "The IQ Center's cutting-edge technology provides benefits across many departments. It is unusual for a university as small as W&L to have such powerful technol- ogy that can be used to supplement curriculum in innovative ways."

According to I'Anson, although other liberal arts colleges have some of the new technology, W&L will be the first to have new technology that covers so many different areas in one space. "We're hoping that this will be phase one for the technology, and that later we can expand and upgrade the abilities of the center," she said. "For example, we're raising funds right now to add 3-D imaging, which can do so much across all the majors, making W&L the first liberal arts college to have something like that," she says.

Randall Hudson '83 has contributed $50,000 toward the IQ Center because he is excited about the technological capabilities of the space. He owns Hudson Oil/Javelina Partners, in Fort Worth, Texas. "My wife, Carolyn, and I visited the school in November 2012. We were able to tour the space allocated for the IQ Center, including where the 3-D printing center is now located. It was easy to understand what the school is reaching for with this project, and why it is so important to support that vision. I really enjoyed seeing how the school has changed since I was there, how truly state-of-the-art it has become, and I'm delighted to be able to help the University continue to move in that direction."

Carolyn and Randall Hudson '83Hudson continues, "I chose to support the IQ Center because the sciences are so important. Too many people, including students, think all the answers can be found on the Internet. We need to promote opportunities for students to ask why or why not, to question conventional wisdom, to ask new questions, and to discover the answers to those new questions. The IQ Center will be an ideal environment for them to take on these challenges."

Small concurs. "The way the space is set up is very comfortable--it will encourage people to spend time there and see what other people are working on," he says. "I think it will be a nice community gathering place. Giving to this was not difficult for Alison and me. We believe in education--this is a labor of love for the University."