Research Offers Insights from the Social Sciences
By Sandra Seitz
Three new social science research initiatives will provide
insights on the mental health of youth in prison, the abilities of youth
on the autism spectrum and other key issues of our society. The
research and scholarship are funded by Joseph P. Healey grants, awarded
by the UMass President’s Office and UMass Lowell’s Vice Provost for
“Steampunkinetics: Building Art into Science” is an art and
technology program for adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum
disorders (ASD). Directed by Psychology Asst. Prof. Ashleigh Hillier,
who conducts research and runs a number of programs for ASD youth, the
program includes collaboration with working artists: Bruce Rosenbaum,
head of ModVic, a steampunk design company; and Mauricio Cordero,
executive director of Mill No. 5 in Lowell.
Steampunk is an artistic movement that melds elements of
Victorian-era history, particularly steam power, with modern technology
and fantasy. Works of steampunk often feature futuristic ideas as
Victorians might have envisioned them.
“Steampunk is a good fit for those with ASD, whose skills
often include phenomenal attention to detail, highly creative and
divergent thinking and an emphasis on mechanics,” says Hillier.
Participants will design and create kinetic art objects, incorporating
technology and engineering, working in small groups led by undergraduate
and graduate students.