Autistic youth and young adults often possess skills that position them to substantially contribute to the STEM workforce of the future. However, autistic people remain underrepresented in STEM careers due in part to a lack of transitional supports between high school and college.

Through the Making Mentors project, EDC addresses this critical gap by providing transitional supports through a comprehensive mentorship program in the context of maker clubs attended by over 135 autistic youth and undergraduates. Autistic college students who major in STEM fields act as near-peer mentors to autistic high school students as they engage in self-directed projects in maker clubs, and they share practical advice about resources, networks, and practices that foster self-determination in postsecondary STEM education and employment.

Key Activities

The project is carrying out the following activities:

  • Designing a STEM mentorship program embedded within maker clubs
  • Conducting research on how and why specific aspects of the mentorship experience affect the program
  • Conducting statistical analyses on data from two validated surveys
  • Triangulating survey data with qualitative analysis of pre- and post-interviews with program participants
  • Disseminating research findings widely through conferences and journals for autism education researchers and educators
  • Creating a digital Making Mentors Toolkit to share the mentorship-based transition program


  • Findings from the Making Mentors project research will inform the creation of a field-tested and empirically based transition program.
  • The transition program will be widely disseminated to makerspaces and other settings, ultimately providing increased access to STEM careers for autistic youth.

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National Science Foundation

New York University, City University of New York