Since the early 2000s, a set of networks have coalesced under the umbrella of “engineering studies” to investigate the roles of engineers in science, technology, and medicine. The CHSTM working group forwards this development with a specific focus on historical questions in a forum for early stage work. Engineering studies is a small but growing group of historians, anthropologists, sociologists, engineering educators, and other science and technology studies scholars, who center engineers and engineering as their subjects of analysis. The purpose of this working group is to promote historical research on engineering in the context of the Consortium for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine by: building a vibrant community via regular meetings with low barriers to participation; sharing work in progress among historians and other engineering studies scholars; and clarifying the role of engineering studies in the history of science, technology, and medicine.
Please set your timezone at https://www.chstm.org/user
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Friday, June 16, 2023 10:00 am to 11:30 am EDT
Reflections on May 18-20 IEEE Ethics Conference and May 20 INES Workshop: A discussion led by Sarah Appelhans (Postdoctoral Research Associate, Bucknell University).
We will also briefly discuss a bibliography project working through the Zotero group, Engineering Studies. For useful background reading on Zotero groups, visit:
NOTE: All are welcome and encouraged to attend this follow-up discussion. You do not need to have attended the May 20 workshop.
April 21, 2023
Dialogue with Professor Jessica Smith, Editor-in-chief of Engineering Studies
Downey, Gary Lee. “What Is Engineering Studies for? Dominant Practices and Scalable Scholarship.” Engineering Studies 1, no. 1 (March 1, 2009): 55–76. https://doi.org/10.1080/19378620902786499.
Smith, Jessica M. “Introduction to the New Editor-in-Chief.” Engineering Studies 15, no. 1 (January 2, 2023): 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1080/19378629.2023.2178524.
March 17, 2023
¡Alerta! Engineering on Shaky Ground
A discussion with Elizabeth Reddy, PhD, of her recently published book with MIT's Engineering Studies Series, ¡Alerta! Engineering on Shaky Ground (MIT Press, 2023).
Intro, body chapter, and conclusion are attached below (login required).
February 17, 2023
"Competent From Personal Experience": Networks of Engineers and Decision Making behind South Korea's Mungyong Cement Plant
A work-in-progress by Juyoung Lee, PhD candidate in history of science and technology at Johns Hopkins University (USA). This is a chapter draft from Juyoung's forthcoming dissertation.
Chapter draft available for download below.
January 20, 2023
December 16, 2022
Technocratic Visions: Engineers, Technology, and Society in Mexico
A discussion with J. Justin Castro and James A. Garza of their recently published edited volume, Technocratic Visions: Engineers, Technology, and Society in Mexico (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2022).
Introduction is attached below (group members only).
November 18, 2022
Beyond the Lab and the Field: Infrastructures As Places of Knowledge Production since the Late Nineteenth Century
A discussion with Eike-Christian Heine and Martin Meiske of their edited volume, Beyond the Lab and the Field (Pittsburgh University Press, 2022).
The book's introduction is attached below.
October 21, 2022
Welcome and Community Engagement for Working Group Priorities (co-chairs)
“Lightning Talks” (featured members)
- Dr. Claire Mayo
- Dr. Julie Mark Cohen
- Henrique Oliveira
- Dr. Changxue Shu
Upcoming Conferences and Opportunities (co-chairs)
Future Plans and General Discussion (all)
May 20, 2022
From Social Optimization to Interconnected Systems: The “Systems Approach” as Technological Imagination in Japan, 1960s–80s
A work-in-progress by Yize Hu, PhD candidate in history of science and technology at Johns Hopkins University (USA). This is a chapter draft from Yize's forthcoming dissertation.
Commentary from Cyrus Mody, Maastricht University (Netherlands).
April 15, 2022
In it for the long haul: Negotiating interdisciplinary “culture change” in engineering education reform.
A work-in-progress by Annie Patrick, Matthew Wisnioski, and Lisa McNair, Virginia Tech (USA).
Commentary by Caitlyn Wyle, University of Virginia (USA).
How do engaged STS scholars and engineering educators work together over an extended period to make change? In 2015, the National Science Foundation created the Revolutionizing Engineering Departments (RED) initiative to address persistent challenges in engineering education. A distinguishing feature of RED was its focus on “culture change” via interdisciplinary teams that brought social scientists and engineering education researchers into long-term departmental planning with the intention of creating sustainable, evidence-based, and reproducible results. In this study we analyze what happened when we translated this complex national imperative into local practice at our university. Focusing on the groundwork of critical participation, we reconstruct how we enacted culture change through visible and invisible negotiations. We draw on six years of documents, interviews, and ethnographic observations to show how interdisciplinary engineering education reform begins with different, often unstated, perspectives about culture change. We then trace how these meanings and practices evolved across time along with transformations in identities, departmental structures and power relations, and our own strategies of intervention. We demonstrate that culture change is a crucial but elusive concept for both engaged STS scholars and engineering educators, and that attending to its negotiations can reveal how change can be foreclosed, why efforts fail and succeed, and how projects can be revitalized and sustained.
March 18, 2022
“Balance Work” on the Bleeding Edge: Women Engineers Managing Precarity in the Semiconductor Industry
Sarah Appelhans, PhD, Bucknell University
Comment: Amy Slaton, Drexel University
Ryan Hearty completed his MA in history of science and technology in 2019 at Johns Hopkins University, where he is pursuing his PhD and writing a dissertation on interdisciplinary collaboration and conflict among water quality experts in the United States between 1945 and 1980. As a former engineer, he has worked on the radio communications for NASA's Parker Solar Probe at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and has a masterʼs degree in electrical engineering.
Ellan Spero is a historian of science and technology, educator and instructor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is an academic entrepreneur, serving as co-founder, chief curriculum officer, and lead instructor at Station1, a nonprofit higher education institution focused on a new inclusive and cross-disciplinary model of socially-directed science and technology education, research, and innovation. Dr. Spero’s research focuses on the ways that people envision human progress through the systems, institutions, objectives, and narratives that they create. As a historian working at the intersection of technology, business, and higher education, Dr. Spero’s research explores narratives of progress, systems of production, academic-industrial ecosystems, and interactions between humans and material infrastructures. Dr. Spero is a member of numerous international working groups and has presented at the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT), the Business History Conference, Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S), the European Economic History Association, and specialty conferences on World’s Expos, academic-entrepreneurship, and maintenance and innovation. Dr. Spero is a member of a research collaboration on railroads in historical context and “technological landscape” in the Tua Valley in Portugal. Most recently, she has received a fellowship from the Linda Hall Library, and has previously received fellowships from the Chemical Heritage Foundation (Science History Institute), and Hagley Museum and Library. She is currently a co-editor of special journal issue of ACS Biomaterials on bioinspired materials. At Station1, Dr. Spero has led the development of cross-disciplinary curriculum on socially-directed science and technology and is a co-lead on three grant-funded pedagogical initiatives which focus on social responsibility, inclusive innovation, and thoughtful development of science and technology. Spero was recently a visiting scientist at the Smart Living Lab at École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Fribourg, Switzerland and prior a joint researcher between MIT and the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). Dr. Spero holds a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in History, Anthropology, Science, Technology and Society. Spero also has a B.S. and M.S. from Cornell University in Fiber Science and Apparel Design, and a M.A from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in Museum Studies and Textile Conservation.