Lizzie Borden, Computers in Society, Helping the Disabled Top Unique Classes at UMass Amherst

AMHERST, Mass. - University of Massachusetts students in History 297B will conduct an historical investigation into the Lizzie Borden case, using primary source materials from Fall River and the Lizzie Borden ax-murder trial.

This three-credit class was designed to teach students to re-construct the historical past using their own ideas and explorations to consider the evidence at hand. As part of the project, an extensive virtual archive on the World Wide Web allows students to learn history by studying it the way historians do. This is a joint project between the history department and the Center for Computer-Based Instructional Technology (CCBIT) at UMass.

* David Hart of CCBIT can be reached at 413/545-3278 or

* Bruce Laurie, history, can be reached at 413/545-6771 or

Design Projects to Aid the Disabled - Each student, or team of students, will work with a disabled client to identify a device or mechanism that would be useful in the client''s daily life. Such projects will include sensors for an intelligent cane for the blind, and a two-person bicycle adapted for a handicapped rider. The students, seniors in engineering or computer science, will design, produce, and test their projects, getting feedback from the client. While no lecture time is scheduled for this class, students are required to spend 10 hours a week on the project, including mandatory Friday afternoons in the lab. This new two-semester, six-credit course is a collaboration with Hampshire College and Adaptive Design Services of the state Dept. of Mental Retardation.

* John Ritter, engineering, can be reached at 413/545-0632 or

* Janis Terpenny, engineering, can be reached at 413/545-0707 or

Computers and Society - Students examine what computers are, how they are used in society, and how their use affects society. First, they explore the origin of computers and the historical, economic, and scientific forces that brought them into existence. They study the use of computers in business and in factory automation, and by professionals in medicine, art, and science. Finally, the class explores the economic and socio-political impact of computers on society and the individual. These issues give rise to others ranging from privacy to the impact of robots in the factory, to the use of computers in political action.

* Nico Spinelli, computer science, can be reached at 413/545-1323 or