VIRTUAL REALITY ART / RESEARCH
In recent years, the shortage of technology talent in Illinois and the outmigration of engineers to other states has been identified as a major concern. It is also estimated that approximately 85 percent of people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) remain unemployed or underemployed. ASD is the fastest growing developmental disability and is diagnosed more frequently than AIDS, cancer and diabetes combined, with 1 in 59 children now being diagnosed (CDC, 2018). The mission of the Autism and Innovation Initiative is to strengthen the technology and innovation talent pipeline in Illinois by including people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and taking a strength-based approach to training, entrepreneurship and workforce development.
In pioneering an inclusive model to training, attracting and retaining talent in Illinois, the program will offer opportunities for engagement with innovative technology projects to inspire enthusiasm for technology, innovation and entrepreneurship. The Autism and Innovation Initiative, in collaboration with industry and community partners, will spearhead the foundation of a statewide Innovation Hub that takes a strength-based approach to including individuals with autism in the Illinois STEM workforce.
This is an ongoing collaborative research project with Maureen Dunne (Disability and Human Development, UIC) funded by Discover Partners Institute.