41 minutes | Dec 19th 2016

Autism in the Engineering Classroom

In the big push for more engineers today, can we get them from autistic students? Research has shown that college students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) go into science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields more than students without ASD. We speak with one of the researchers who studied this phenomenon, Dr. Jennifer Yu of SRI International (Part 1 @ 01:00), and we also discuss community colleges, universal design, and why learning to educate autistic students better can help educate all students better. Then we hear from occupational therapist and doctoral candidate Marci Schneider in Florida (Part 2 @ 21:25). In her eighteen years of experience serving K-12 students with special needs, she has gathered advice for teachers on how to approach ASD in STEM classrooms. One final note comes from high school engineering teacher Melanie Kong in Seattle (Part 3 @ 35:50), who picked up a few insights in her early years on this topic. Mentioned in this episode: ● SRI international: https://www.sri.com/ ● Blog post from Dr. Jennifer Yu, “Turning Autism Research into Support for Learning”: https://www.sri.com/blog/turning-autism-research-support-learning ● Peer-reviewed research article on autism and STEM in college, from Jennifer’s team at SRI: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23114569 ● Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen, UK autism researcher: https://www.autismresearchcentre.com/people_Baron-Cohen ● National Longitudinal Transition Study: http://www.nlts2.org ● Article from FastCompany by Vauhini Vara, “Microsoft Wants Autistic Coders. Can It Find Them and Keep Them?”: https://www.fastcompany.com/3062835/hr/microsoft-autism-hiring ● Article from CIO by Sharon Florentine, “How SAP is hiring autistic adults for tech jobs”: http://www.cio.com/article/3013221/careers-staffing/how-sap-is-hiring-autistic-adults-for-tech-jobs.html ● Peer-reviewed research article on autism and community college: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24158680 ● Google Classroom: https://classroom.google.com ● Read&Write extension for Google Chrome: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/readwrite-for-google-chro/inoeonmfapjbbkmdafoankkfajkcphgd?hl=en-US ● Mercury extension [an alternative to the Readability app, which is no longer available as of October 2016]: https://mercury.postlight.com/ Remember that the podcast will be at the SXSW Conference and Festival in March, 2017! We will be running workshops for educators and professional engineers: https://www.sxsw.com/ and http://sxswedu.com/ The cover art for this episode is full of origami cranes, and it is inspired by “the birds activity” from past podcast guest Ellen Browne, which Melanie describes at the end of this episode; it is also inspired by the colored puzzle pieces historically used to symbolize autism at times. Our opening music comes from "School Zone (radio edit)" by The Honorable Sleaze, who’s also on Soundcloud. Our closing music is from "Late for School" by Bleeptor. Both are used under Creative Commons Attribution Licenses: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 Subscribe and find more podcast information at: http://www.k12engineering.net. The K12 Engineering Education Podcast is a production of Pios Labs: http://www.pioslabs.com