Matthew Wisnioski examines how a radical group of engineers impacted the notion of technology
January 25, 2013
In his new book, “Engineers for Change,” Virginia Tech’s Matthew Wisnioski examines how an eclectic group of engineers in the 1960s partnered with antiwar and civil rights activists to agitate for change.
“The engineers were fighting to remake their profession, challenging their fellow engineers to embrace a more humane vision of technology,” said Wisnioski, an assistant professor in the Department of Science and Technology in Society in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. Wisnioski offers an account of this “conflict within engineering, linking it to deep-seated assumptions about technology and American life.”
Wisnioski, who earned his bachelor’s degree at Johns Hopkins University and both his master’s and Ph.D. from Princeton University, will deliver a short talk about his research on Jan. 29 at 1 p.m. in Newman Library as part of the Visible Scholarship Initiative.
As the first book in a new MIT Press Engineering Studies series, "Engineers for Change" seeks popular as well as academic readership. Charles Vest, president of the National Academy of Engineering and former president of MIT, endorsed Wisnioski’s book saying “The social and intellectual unrest of the 1960s forced engineers, long the masters of how, to confront why. … Thus, Matthew Wisnioski’s very interesting and highly readable book is an important contemporary guide as well as excellent history.”
Wisnioski’s work has been cited in academic and practitioner texts and adopted in courses at Harvard, MIT, and Rice. It also has led to numerous interdisciplinary collaborations such as: an Exploratory Workshop on Architectural Histories of Organization at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study; a keynote talk at the Conference on the History of Recent Economics at the Ecole normale supérieure de Cachan; and a keynote panel on Systems, Process, Art and the Social for MIT’s 150th Anniversary.
Prolific on many fronts, Wisnioski recently submitted a blog entry entitled “'Change or Die!': The History of an Innovator's Aphorism” to American Science blogspot which, in turn, was picked up by The Atlantic.
The Visible Scholarship Initiative is a collaboration between the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and the University Libraries. Illustrating how faculty address key questions, employ varied methods, and produce significant results makes it possible to acknowledge and encourage research and creative activities that engage challenging questions and demonstrate sophisticated understanding.