Tech Kids Unlimited Garners Google Rise Award for Promoting Computer Science and Technology to Youth with Learning Differences

NYU Tandon-Based Program Teaches Kids With Special Needs to Be Creators, Not Consumers, of Tomorrow’s Technology

Tech Kids Unlimited

Google has granted Tech Kids Unlimited (TKU) a RISE Award to support the nonprofit’s efforts to empower teens with special needs to learn about, create, develop, and share the tools of technology.

TKU was founded by Beth Rosenberg, an adjunct faculty member in NYU Tandon School of Engineering’s Integrated Digital Media Program, and her son, Jack, to teach 21st-century tech skills to young people with autism spectrum disorder, learning and emotional disabilities, processing problems, and other such issues.

“Many youth with ASD intuitively understand technology; computer code is predictable, rote, and follows a set of finite rules, which make them comfortable,” Rosenberg explained. “Additionally, many of these students are not given the opportunity to further their interest in computer science during the school week because they are inundated with occupational therapy, physical therapy, tutoring, social work appointments, and other needed services.”

The RISE Award will fund TKU’s newest initiative, the T3 (“Tech.Teen.Team.”) Digital Agency, which will provide a channel for teens with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to undertake commissioned projects such as websites and apps for real clients.

Rosenberg said, “As members of T3, the teens will learn computational thinking, expand their creativity, and obtain meaningful work experience that could lead to internships and, eventually, jobs.”

That goal is particularly important in light of the fact that in the United States, 500,000 teens with ASD will reach adulthood over the next decade, and 90 percent of adults with autism are unemployed or underemployed.

TKU, which is based at the Tandon School of Engineering and includes faculty and students of the Tisch School of the Arts and the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, is part of NYU’s Ability Project, which fosters collaboration between individuals with disabilities, engineers, designers, educators, and speech and occupational therapists, with the goal of developing adaptive and assistive technologies.

"We at Tandon are tremendously proud of our partnership with Tech Kids Unlimited,” Dean Katepalli Sreenivasan said. “Beth Rosenberg's program is a vital component of our culture of inclusion and public service at Tandon, and our students gain tremendous experience from interacting with her students. TKU is a life-changing program for kids who learn differently, and we share in celebrating their success."

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About the NYU Tandon School of Engineering
The NYU Tandon School of Engineering dates to 1854, when the New York University School of Civil Engineering and Architecture as well as the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute (widely known as Brooklyn Poly) were founded. Their successor institutions merged in January 2014 to create a comprehensive school of education and research in engineering and applied sciences, rooted in a tradition of invention, and entrepreneurship and dedicated to furthering technology in service to society. In addition to its main location in Brooklyn, NYU Tandon collaborates with other schools within the country’s largest private research university and is closely connected to engineering programs in NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai. It operates business incubators in downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn and an award-winning online graduate program.