Steampunkinetics: Building Art into Science


Steampunkinetics: Brief Overview


Steampunkinetics is an Art / Technology program for high functioning adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) aged between 13-30 years. The mission of Steampunkinetcs is to provide those with ASD with the resources, skills, and support needed to create a unique and innovative work of art using technology and Steampunk Art aesthetics.

Click here for the Steampunkinetics brochure.


What is Steampunk?

Steampunk is an art genre that began in the 1980s and early 1990s. It includes art, books, movies, fashion, etc. centered around steam power and the Victorian era. Works of Steampunk are based on science fiction / futuristic ideas those in the Victorian era may have had about future technology.


What will we do in the sessions?

In Steampunkinetics participants will work on projects incorporating art, technology, computer programming, and the Steampunk art movement. Participants will learn how to design and create a kinetic art object. This may include programming motion detectors, buttons, switches, etc. so that the art object moves / lights up / makes sounds, etc. Much of the work will be carried out in small groups. The sessions will be run by UMass Lowell undergraduate and graduate students with supervision from Dr. Ashleigh Hillier.


Why is this a good fit for those with ASD?



Steampunkinetics is a 9-week program meeting once a week on UMass Lowell’s north campus from 4.30-6.30pm on Fridays. The next program will begin in Februray 2014. There is a $100 program fee to participate (scholarships are available for those who cannot afford the fee).


What else?

Steampunkinetics also provides an informal parent group which meets at the same time and place.


How can I enroll?

Contact Ashleigh Hillier, Ph.D. at for an enrollment form. You will also need to provide proof of an ASD diagnosis (e.g. neuropsych report).

Ashleigh Hillier, Ph.D.

The Department of Psychology

University of Massachusetts Lowell

1 Mahoney Hall

870 Broadway Street

Lowell, MA 01854

Office: (978) 934-2930

Fax: (978) 934-3074



Program Director

Ashleigh Hillier, PhD is a member of faculty in the Department of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Dr. Hillier’s research interests include increasing our understanding of social and vocational skills of those on the autism spectrum, and how to support and develop these skills. Dr. Hillier has worked with individuals on the autism spectrum for over 15 years and currently runs a number of programs for adolescents and young adults on the autism spectrum. These include a college preparation program, a social network program, and a Movie Club. See her website for further details:

Program Collaborators

Bruce Rosenbaum is a Steampunk Artist with his MBA from Duke University. Mr. Rosenbaum has quickly become an authority on Steampunk art and design through his Steampunk Design company, ModVic and has curated Steampunk exhibitions such as the Steampunk Form & Function Competition at the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation in Waltham, Massachusetts. Mr. Rosenbaum has ap-peared on many television shows, radio, newspaper and magazine articles including MTV Extreme Cribs, Channel 5 Chronicle, NPR, Boston Globe, CNN, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Wired Maga-zine, and many more.

Adam Norton is the manager of the New England Robotics Validation and Experimentation (NERVE) Center at UMass Lowell. He is also an instructor and core member of the Artbotics program, which combines art and robotics to create interactive kinetic sculptures. He has helped develop the program since its inception in 2006, where he began as a student. Adam is a working roboticist, artist, and musician living in Lowell, MA.

Abraham Shultz is a Master’s Degree candidate at UMass Lowell. He works in the UMass Lowell Robotics Laboratory on neuron-computer interfaces. When he is not at work, he tinkers with electronics and makes art that operates at the intersection of aesthetics and neurobiology.



Dr. Hillier's Home Page