John Heywood, Suzanne Keilson, Aaron Krawitz, Sheila Tobias, James Trevelyan, Alan Cheville, John Krupczak, Tom Siller, Mani Mina, David E. Drew, and Sergey V. Sychov
In this fourth edition of Philosophical Perspectives on Engineering and Technological Literacy, the divisional publication of the Technological and Engineering Literacy and Philosophy of Engineering (TELPhE) Division of ASEE, is trying a new format. Over the years members of the division have noted that many of us keep coming back to the annual ASEE conference year after year not only for the technical papers, but the deep and wide-ranging conversations that crop up organically and spontaneously at the conference like flowers in the desert after a rain. This may be an appropriate metaphor since within our own academic institutions the opportunities to have wide ranging conversations with others who have similar interests in the larger questions that underlie engineering education are often difficult to start or hard to find.
Such conversations matter; dialog is fundamental to the practice of both philosophy and literacy. It is a truism to say that we learn through interacting with others and refine our own ideas by sharpening them against those of others. However the practical reality of a conference is to at least not lose money and that of today’s academic life is to publish one’s work. In conjunction, however, these have the effect of steering academic writing towards papers and presentations rather than free ranging dialog. For TELPhE, a group focused on the ideas and narratives that underlie the learning of engineering, it is not clear that such outward facing, many-to-one, ways of communicating are by themselves meeting the Division’s needs. As Mark Twain is alleged to have said, “Let us make a special effort to stop communicating with each other, so we can have some conversation.”
This edition begins with an anchoring paper, John Heywood’s Why Technological Literacy and for Whom? which was presented at the 2016 ASEE Annual Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans, Louisiana. In this paper Professor Heywood’s intent was “raise questions about the intent of technological literacy in society at the present time.” Following the ASEE conference a call was put out to all members of the TELPhE Division asking for short responses to Professor Heywood’s paper. These responses, in random order, follow the anchoring paper. Unlike more traditional journals each author was free to comment in the style and form they best saw fit; instruction for style and formatting were minimal to non-existent. The author’s papers have been left mostly “as is” with only consistency between fonts, layout, and similar issues addressed. In cases where a title was not provided by the author one was inserted; apologies to the authors in advance.
It is hoped that this form of “dialog journal” will enable a wider ranging conversation within TELPhE that spans not only those who can attend the ASEE conference and whom stumble in to conversation, but also those whose time, circumstance, and resources don’t give them opportunities to attend. The larger goal of this format is to stimulate ongoing dialogs and capture them in ways that are both readable and archival.
John W. Blake, Alan Cheville, Kate A. Disney, Stephen T. Frezza, John Heywood, Carl O. Hilgarth, John Krupczak Jr., Randy Libros, Mani Mina, and Steven R. Walk
This is the third Handbook produced by members of The Technological and Engineering Literacy/ Philosophy Division (TELPHE) of The American Society for Engineering Education. The common theme is the curriculum (formal and hidden) and its discontents.
The publication of Engineers of Jihad by Diego Gambetta and Steffen Hertog (Princeton, 2016) caused much discussion in ASEE and in particular among members of TELPHE, and led to a panel discussion at the annual conference. Stephen Frezza a contributor to the previous Handbooks opens this issue with his response to the view that the engineering curriculum reinforces the mind-set that drives a person to commit terrorist acts. A key question is, “what response should those in engaged in the teaching of technological and engineering literacy have to these criticisms of the curriculum?”
One of the reasons for embracing philosophy in the work of the Division was that apart from the fact that this growing field of interest had no home, any reform of the curriculum had to begin with a fundamental discussion of the philosophy(ies) on which the curriculum is grounded. This is illustrated by Mani Mina who shows that if the philosophy of John Dewey is followed it leads to an entirely different attitude to what the curriculum should achieve as well as to inquiry base student centred teaching. Cheville continues his efforts to demonstrate the value of John Macmurray’s philosophy to this debate in particular his analysis of personal relationships, a matter that is held to be of some importance by those investigate the causes of terrorism.
The philosophy of the curriculum depends of clarity of terms. For this reason, with the permission of ASEE, the divisions report on technological and engineering literacy which was given at the 2011 annual conference is reprinted. It is followed by a case study of an organization in the aircraft industry that attempts to link the understanding of technology with learning-how-to-learn now considered to be an important goal in higher education.
Russell Korte, Mani Mina, Iraj Omidvar, Stephen T. Frezza, David A. Nordquest, and Alan Cheville
Unknown to each other two groups of engineers and engineering educators began to consider aspects of philosophy and engineering. One held a workshop of engineers and philosophers- “Engineering meets Philosophy” at Delft University and the other held a special session at the annual Frontiers in Education Conference on engineering education and philosophy. Since then the former has held a biannual workshop that have resulted in two impressive publications. The other continued its discussions through FIE and ASEE conferences. There are now regular sessions on philosophy and engineering education at the annual FIE conferences.
Gregory Bassett, John Blake, Adam Carberry, Jerry Gravander, William Grimson, John Krupczak Jr., Mani Mina, and Donna Riley
The belief that engineering and technology are beneficial to all and can improve human lives has inspired the tireless endeavors of many creative individuals throughout history. Engineers and technologists have generally believed that their actions and designs need to be scientifically justified and logically dependable. In addition, due to the pragmatic nature of the field there is also an emphasis on systematic approaches and defining standard practices in engineering. Such a positivist approach is seen in all aspects of engineering and technological ventures. Consequently, such an approach exists in most engineering educators’ perspectives and belief structures regarding the contents of the curricular, student training, and the overall goal of engineering and technological education.
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