Interdisciplinary Collaborations

Dr. Ronch at DC Convention CenterThe Erickson School strives for innovation in imagining the future of aging services. Along with innovation comes collaboration, and that is exactly what the Erickson School fostered in Project 2061, a model of a futuristic home for an older adult, displayed at the 2011 LeadingAge Conference and Convention. Set fifty years in the future, this model incorporated perspectives from aging, neuroscience, biomechanics, human-centered computing, and graphic design to create an accommodating home environment for an older adult.

project 2061The interdisciplinary team of students working on Project 2061 created three “personas” of older adults, each with different wants and needs as they aged.  Around these personas, the team of students created a home to include interactive walls, eSkin sensors, robotics, and other types of assistive technologies.

But it was not simply the creation of Project 2061 that the students valued, but also the collaborative process. Steven Hall, a graphic design major at UMBC worked on the design of the exhibit space itself, calling the assignment “hands-on, practical, and outside the realm of a normal design course.”

project 2061This experience allowed him to “open his eyes on a new audience” for whom to design.  With a background in biochemistry and neuroscience is UMBC student and Myerhoff scholar Talmo Pereira.  Pereira brought his biomedical expertise and familiarity with Alzheimer’s disease to the project, working closely with the design team to ensure the space was accommodating to the degenerative disorders of the various personas.  Pereira also enjoyed the collaborative nature of the project, citing the “invaluable lessons learned from other disciplines” as well as the new knowledge of person-centered care he gained throughout the course of working on Project 2061. Bringing the skills she learned while studying at The Erickson School, UMBC senior Ashley Johnson was able to apply her extensive knowledge of the biological process of aging to the design and engineering of the exhibit.  Johnson also used her own personal story to inspire one of the personas used for Project 2061, an experience she found “very exciting and self-reflective.”