The Normativities of Engineers: Engineering Education and History of Technology


This special issue of Technology and Culture examines the normativities of engineering education—how practices of engineering formation prepare engineers to serve specific social agendas as they rework the material world. It also calls new attention to the relationship between history of technology and its audiences. The history of technology originated in 1959 among scholars based largely in engineering education, yet interest in technological history among engineers and engineering educators has waned in recent years. Matthew Wisnioski shows the contested role of the “liberal studies” in American engineering schools during the broad cultural critiques of the 1960s. Ross Bassett details an alliance between Indian and American engineering educators that advanced Indian mastery of digital computing. Andrés Valderrama et. al. explore how engineering education emerged in Colombia amidst regional competition to define the country as a whole. Today’s historians of technology could benefit by rebuilding ties to engineering education while retaining their independent, analytical stances on the past.