With funding from Alfred West, Jr., an alumnus of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and chairman of SEI Investments, Wharton Dean Patrick T. Harker established the Alfred West Jr. Learning Lab to explore ways “to reach a deeper understanding of how people learn and to push that process to a higher level using advancements in technology and learning science.”

The foundation for the Learning Lab was established in fall 2000 with a pilot program that included two new projects and expansion of an existing one. All three projects reflected Wharton’s commitment to research that would have a significant impact within the school. The new projects were earmarked for MBA “core” courses – those taken by all first-year Wharton MBA students. The third project was the expansion of a portfolio-management simulation previously developed at Wharton for one of the school’s finance faculty members (which eventually became Wharton’s Online Trading and Investment Simulator, or OTIS).