Engineering Studies

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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.

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Upcoming Meetings

There are no currently scheduled upcoming events.

Past Meetings

  • January 20, 2023

    No meeting

  • 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


  • February 18, 2022

    Johannes Lenhard and Ann Johnson, "Systems Thinking and the Mainframe Culture of Prediction." Chapter five from their forthcoming book, Prediction as Practice and Culture.
    Commentary from Davis Baird, professor of philosophy at Clark University.
    Click the link below to download the book's table of contents, introduction, and fifth chapter.

  • January 21, 2022

    “Engineering Studies in the Real World”  
    This session explores where, why, and with what impacts engineering studies is being practiced outside of the academy. We will hear from panelists who pursue history, philosophy, ethnography as engaged practices in the investigation of engineering failures, NASA decision-making, and issues of ethics and responsibility at the National Academy of Engineering. We especially encourage others practicing engineering studies beyond the academy to join us. 

    • Julie Mark Cohen, Independent Scholar
    • Zachary Pirtle, NASA
    • Courtney Hill, National Academy of Engineering


  • December 21, 2021

    *Note Special Time*
    Joint meeting with the History of Technology Working Group
    Ryan Hearty, Johns Hopkins University
    "Monitoring Water Quality in US Rivers in the 1950 and 1960s: information, communication, and applied sciences"

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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