Engineering Studies

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.

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Consortium Respectful Behavior Policy

Participants at Consortium activities will treat each other with respect and consideration to create a collegial, inclusive, and professional environment that is free from any form of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation.

Participants will avoid any inappropriate actions or statements based on individual characteristics such as age, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, nationality, political affiliation, ability status, educational background, or any other characteristic protected by law. Disruptive or harassing behavior of any kind will not be tolerated. Harassment includes but is not limited to inappropriate or intimidating behavior and language, unwelcome jokes or comments, unwanted touching or attention, offensive images, photography without permission, and stalking.

Participants may send reports or concerns about violations of this policy to

Upcoming Meetings

There are no currently scheduled upcoming events.

Past Meetings

  • May 17, 2024

    Electrifying Indonesia: Technology and Social Justice in National Development
    A discussion with Anto Mohsin, Assistant Professor in the Liberal Arts Program at Northwestern University in Qatar, of his recently published book, Electrifying Indonesia: Technology and Social Justice in National Development (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2023). Purchase the book here.
    The fourth chapter is attached below (login required). [Edit: I've re-uploaded a new document that has abbreviations and notes.]

  • March 15, 2024

    Spanning the Gilded Age: James Eads and the Great Steel Bridge
    A discussion with Jack Brown, professor emeritus at University of Virginia, of his forthcoming book, Spanning the Gilded Age: James Eads and the Great Steel Bridge, with Johns Hopkins University Press (21 May 2024; available for preorder). At the broadest level, Spanning the Gilded Age explores the work of a brilliant polymath, the nature of engineering creativity, and the shifting tides of success and failure across time.
    The preface and third chapter are attached below (login required).

  • January 19, 2024

    "Bridging Glass Education, Research, and Practice: Art, Engineering, and Experiential Learning at the MIT Glass Lab, 1967-1988." A paper draft and presentation by Alexander Evenchik, PhD Student in the Robotic Matter Lab at Northwestern University.

    Abstract: The emergence and persistence of new community spaces in established environments often signals and reflects the desires, values, and trajectories of their home institutions. As a space that bridged artistic practice, experiential engineering education, and interdisciplinary research, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Glass Lab reflected the values of not only its founders, but also its broader community. This paper draws on this historical case with contemporary relevance for how we think about the value of such teaching spaces and their effects on practice, interdisciplinarity, community, and education.

    Download available below (visible when you are logged in with your CHSTM account).

  • December 15, 2023

    Open discussion: Beginning a shared bibliography project using Zotero
    Please join us as we start building our shared library!
    Guest discussants, two contributors to the Envirotech bibliography:

    • Finn Arne Jørgensen, Greenhouse Center for Environmental Humanities, Department of Cultural Studies and Languages, University of Stavanger (Norway)
    • Julie Cohn, Baker Institute for Public Policy, Rice University, and Center for Public History, University of Houston (USA)

    Link to our Getting Started guide (also attached as pdf, version 6 December 2023):
    Register here: 

  • November 17, 2023

    Meeting postponed to December 15.

  • October 20, 2023

    Introductions, SHOT Annual Conference preview, and Bibliography Collaborations

  • June 16, 2023

    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.
    Smith, Jessica M. “Introduction to the New Editor-in-Chief.” Engineering Studies 15, no. 1 (January 2, 2023): 1–8.


  • 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.

Group Conveners

  • rhearty1's picture

    Ryan Hearty

    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.


  • efspero's picture

    Ellan Spero

    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.


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