As college decision-time neared, Lowell native, Adam Norton realized that he was attracted to a career in art. Fortunately, he didn’t have to go far to pursue it.
“I was told UMass Lowell was a really great school where I could get a solid art education,” says Adam. “I visited the university, met some of the faculty members and was really drawn to the Art Department.”
Reinforcing his decision was Adam’s participation in the pilot Artbotics class presented by the university and the Revolving Museum. Adam learned how to combine his passions for art and technology through the course and has been involved with the program ever since.
“Some people think robots and science are cold and emotionless, but Artbotics changes their perceptions,” says Adam. “They can gain different experience of programming other than staring at a screen, because they can program the robot to perform an action and then see it right away. Artbotics students see robotics as art and expression – we learn more about science while creating.”
While attending UMass Lowell, Adam moved from pilot student to co-instructor of the Artbotics program. He has now taught classes to students from middle school through college, as well as given dozens of workshops for educators in Lowell and at conferences.
Adam’s experience at the UMass Lowell robotics lab and Revolving Museum allowed him to work with iRobot on 20 educational school visits across Massachusetts to get the next generation hooked on robotics. Through his classes, workshops and school visits, Adam has taught more than 1,000 students and 150 educators about robotics and started an exciting career. Adam is now the manager of the New England Robotics Validation and Experimentation (NERVE) Center at the university. He uses his creative background and field knowledge to design and implement tests for robotics research.
Adam hopes to keep pushing the boundaries of art in robotics and education as well as the robotics presence in Lowell. He says that the growing community of young UMass Lowell alumni staying in the city is helping his and other projects gain support both locally and on the national scale.
“I may not know a person when I meet them around town or for a project, but if I find out they’re from UMass Lowell, we automatically have a connection and that makes it easy to collaborate. It’s great to be doing these rewarding things, but it’s even better when you have a connection with the people you’re working with.”