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Engineers for Change


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This important book examines the radical engineers of the 1960s and the dialogue they provoked, which changed the way the profession defined itself, with the unintended outcome that many American engineers embraced an ideology that normalized technological acceleration while diminishing responsibility for the cultural effects of their work. But as Matthew Wisnioski also shows, a critical minority now challenges the profession to embrace new values such as sustainability, social justice, and responsibility for change. -- David E. Nye, author of Technology Matters: Questions to Live With For nearly a century, engineers have struggled with competing visions of their profession: were they masters or servants of technology? Debate boiled over during the turbulent 1960s, as critics bewailed destructive technologies that seemed out of control. Charting engineers' efforts from lathes and laboratories to artists' studios and the classroom, Matthew Wisnioski's Engineers for Change offers a richly textured, thought-provoking tour as engineers strove to remold their craft and their identity. -- David Kaiser, Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science, MIT; author of How the Hippies Saved Physics The social and intellectual unrest of the 1960s forced engineers, long the masters of how, to confront why. The struggle to establish a socio-technical framework for engineering, university curricula to imbue it, and a popular understanding of it remain largely unmet today. Thus Matthew Wisnioski's very interesting and highly readable book is an important contemporary guide as well as excellent history. -- Charles Vest, President, National Academy of Engineering; President Emeritus, MIT

About the Author

Matthew Wisnioski is Associate Professor of Science, Technology, and Society at Virginia Tech and the author of Engineers for Change: Competing Visions of Technology in 1960s America (MIT Press).


This volume is solidly researched and draws upon an impressive array contemporary articles, archives, and oral histories. The range of people and places discussed is impressive. Wisnioski makes his case concerning arguments for change being widespread among engineers, and his study is a very useful history of currents within engineering during the era. -Bruce E. Seely, The Journal of American History

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