Research & Development Thrusts
The Vanderbilt Initiative for Autism, Innovation, and the Workeforce team of research laboratories is pursuing several different R&D efforts. These efforts represent a coming together of extant areas of expertise at Vanderbilt — in engineering, psychology, astrophysics, disabilities research, and business management — toward the shared goal of employing autistic individuals and advancing innovation in the workforce.
Understanding the unique capabilities of adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and learning how to match these capabilities to 21st-century workforce needs
This thrust focuses on developing tools and cognitive tests to: (1) capture the full range of abilities of autistic adults, and (2) understand and classify the cognitive demands of 21st-century workforce tasks.
Prototyping assistive technologies to enable employment and workplace success
Human-technology partnerships are central to the Initiative’s work, both because neuro-diverse individuals often respond better to technology based interventions and because such solutions may be more scalable to the broad population of neuro-diverse individuals.
Exploring organizational practices and managerial behaviors that help better utilizing the talents of autistic individuals and enhance organizational innovation
There is a growing body of evidence that organizations who incorporate the diverse perspectives of their workforce are more innovative. For diverse work environments to succeed, employers must create a supportive context that is psychologically safe; that is, where employees feel it is okay to express their opinions and take interpersonal risks.
NASA Neuro-diversity Showcase
The Vanderbilt Initiative for Autism, Innovation, and the Workforce currently includes two signature activities, led by Director Keivan Stassun and housed at the Initiative’s headquarters in the Vanderbilt Innovation Hub, that showcase neuro-diverse teams engaging in entrepreneurship and commercialization as they develop innovative software and hardware products for NASA-sponsored research.