Gene Whelan had a driving force to be a competitor in the big leagues. His heart came with the fire of Olympic Gold. You will also read that he was and continues to be a true engineering academician. His academic studies at the University of Massachusetts were satisfying; however, he found that his gymnastic needs for movement would be difficult to realize at the U. of M. after the gymnastic program was dropped. He transferred to Penn State University, renowned for its academic excellence and gymnastic successes. Not only did Penn State continue to be successful in the gym, Whelan helped them be more successful and, at the same time, was able to fully realize his scholarly ambitions as well.
Gene Whelan was a genuine athletic champion, and he is a champion professional engineer as well. It appears appropriate to begin with his successes in the gym and then move to his role as a champion in his chosen profession. OlympicGames: Team member [A], Montreal, Canada, (1976); WorldChampionships: Team Member, Varna, Bulgaria, (1974); Pan Am Games: Gold-Team, Silver-HB & PB, Bronze-PH, (1975). USGFChampionships: Gold-PH, (1977). AAUChampionships: Gold-Team, (1975, ‘76, ’77 & ‘78), Gold-PB & HB, (1977). UnitedStatesGymnasticsFederation (USGF): Gold-PH, (1977). NCAAChampionships: Silver-PB, (1974); Gold-Team & PB, Silver-AA, (1976). EIGLChampionships: Gold-AA & PB, (1974). FarmingdaleOpenChampionships: Gold-AA, (1975). Champions-AllCompetition: Gold-AA, (1977). InternationalCompetitions: USA vs. Japan, (1975); USA World University Games Team, (1977); USA vs. West Germany, (1975); USA vs. Poland, (1974). Whelan proved himself as an outstanding international and national athlete. CredittheCoaches: Whelan wishes to give credit to his coaches whether official or unofficial as follows: Tom Dunn, (1978) at the U. of Iowa, Gene Whettstone, (1971-’73), Ed Isabelle, (1974-1975), and Tom Dunn, (1976) at Penn State U., Ed Isabelle at Woodward Camp, (1972-’78), Erik Kjeldson, (1971-’73) and Tom Dunn, (1974), Jack Jablonski, (1969-’71) at the Manchester, NH YMCA, and what Gene terms “Guest Coaches”, Abie Grossfeld (1979 USGHOF Inductee) of Southern Connecticut State college, (1971-’77), and Fred Turoff, (Honored Guest at this web site) of Temple U., (1970-1978). Honors: Earned All-America honors twice (1974 & ’76) helping the Nittany Lions to capture their program’s ninth national championship, (1976); Received the prestigious Nissen-Emery Award, an award presented annually to the year’s outstanding senior collegiate gymnast. It is considered the “Heisman Trophy” of gymnastics and is inscribed with the following motto: “The true champion seeks excellence physically, mentally, socially, and morally”, (1976). In the short time I had to meet Dr. Whelan and exchange some ideas, he truly continues to exude these outstanding qualities. Named University of Massachusetts “Most Valuable Athlete”, (1974); Received Robert A. “Red” Rolfe Award (Union Leader-Sunday News, Manchester, NH); USA Senior National Gymnastics team-Top six-AA, (1974-’78); Named International Master of Sport designation, (1974-’78); Queen City (Manchester, NH) Athlete’s Hall of Fame, (1977); Named NYC Metropolitan AAU, Outstanding Athlete, (1978). Education: BS @ Penn State U., (1977), MS @ U. of Iowa, (1980), & PhD. @ Utah State U., (1992). Whelan’s BS was taken in civil engineering, his Master’s Degree in mechanics and hydraulics, and his Doctorate was earned in civil and environmental engineering. Professional: Dr. Whelan conceives, develops, and applies physics-based, integrated user-friendly computer based multimedia contaminant transport and exposure/risk assessment methodologies, which simulate chemical and radionuclide release, intermedia transport; e.g., through groundwater, surface water, overland, and air exposure such as inhalation, ingestion, dermal contact, and external dose, and risk hazard (to carcinogens and noncarcinogins). As of this writing, 2007, Dr. Whelan has been a Principal Architect/Investigator in the conceptual development of ten multimedia software systems and approaches. In other words, Whelan has chosen a professional career that will help save the planet and the lives of all who are dependent on the non-contamination of the earth. Since 1991, Whelan has received numerous honors from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Outstanding Performance Award. His awards have been for patents, inventions, and performance excellence in innovations and software development. Family: (m) Heidi Armstrong who was a member of the AIAW collegiate national championship team in 1973. Children: AJ who took a degree in mathematics at the U. of Washington and Dustin who is currently (2007) at Clarke College in Iowa. Dustin is also a starting midfielder on the college soccer team.
Sources: Interview and correspondence with Dr. Whelan with primary research and action photo provided by Jerry Wright, author of Gymnastics Who’s Who, 2005, excerpts from the USAG HOF Induction and Awards Ceremony, with portrait photo by Dr. Larry Banner who also provided the introduction, commentary, and formatting for this biography.