Tag Archives: Engineer

Book: Engineers for Change. Competing visions of Technology in 1960s America

Engineers for Change. Competing Visions of Technology in 1960s America

by Matthew Wisnioski

https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/engineers-change

Overview

In the late 1960s an eclectic group of engineers joined the antiwar and civil rights activists of the time in agitating for change. The engineers were fighting to remake their profession, challenging their fellow engineers to embrace a more humane vision of technology. In Engineers for Change, Matthew Wisnioski offers an account of this conflict within engineering, linking it to deep-seated assumptions about technology and American life.

The postwar period in America saw a near-utopian belief in technology’s beneficence. Beginning in the mid-1960s, however, society–influenced by the antitechnology writings of such thinkers as Jacques Ellul and Lewis Mumford–began to view technology in a more negative light. Engineers themselves were seen as conformist organization men propping up the military-industrial complex. A dissident minority of engineers offered critiques of their profession that appropriated concepts from technology’s critics. These dissidents were criticized in turn by conservatives who regarded them as countercultural Luddites. And yet, as Wisnioski shows, the radical minority spurred the professional elite to promote a new understanding of technology as a rapidly accelerating force that our institutions are ill-equipped to handle. The negative consequences of technology spring from its very nature–and not from engineering’s failures. “Sociotechnologists” were recruited to help society adjust to its technology. Wisnioski argues that in responding to the challenges posed by critics within their profession, engineers in the 1960s helped shape our dominant contemporary understanding of technological change as the driver of history.

“Engineers who read accounts”. Technical and managerial knowledge from the standpoint of cost accounting (1850-1950)

Call for papers for a special issue of Cahiers d’Histoire du Cnam

“Engineers who read accounts”. Technical and managerial knowledge from the standpoint of cost accounting (1850-1950)

 edited by Marco Bertilorenzi (DISSGEA, University of Padua) and Ferruccio Ricciardi (CNRS, Lise-Cnam)

Since the second half of the 19th century, engineers’ tasks have been progressively re-oriented to help the rationalisation of supplies, of flows and of human capital. This transition from a mere technical level role to another in which managerial capabilities were included happened in the midst of a broad transformation of the industrial economy and, more specifically, in sectors such as the mining and steel industries. It is no coincidence that at the beginning of the 20th century, two engineers – Frederick Winslow Taylor et Henri Fayol – significantly contributed to the casting of the conceptual kernel of the new science of modern management. Workforce administration went hand in hand with the management of resources, linking the ability to administer current business with skills in forecasting and anticipating. This new management knowledge – still blurred and not yet formalised – was equipped with a range of new tools, such as for instance Gantt charts, flow charts and descriptive forms of job positions. Among these new tools, cost accounting had a special place because it served both to guide the enterprise and to manage the workforce. The organisational needs of the big enterprise included the necessity of knowing and taking control over costs by anticipation, and contributing to the definition of production and investment plans. Both in France and abroad, engineers played a central role in the managerial transformation of the enterprise. In this special issue of the Cahiers d’histoire du Cnam, we aim to gather contributions concerning the relationship between engineers and cost accounting during the historical development of major industrial enterprise (1850-1950).

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Engind

Today, the engineering profession, more than any other, seems to embody the transformations which affect contemporary India. It simultaneously symbolizes the rise of the hypothetical « middle classes » and the positioning of India as an emerging power in the international job market, since the country has become one of the preferred destinations of large technological firms. Each year, India awards 3,50,000 engineering degrees. Continue reading

Book: Des ingénieurs pour un monde nouveau. Histoire des enseignements electro-techniques (Europe-Amériques)

9782807600010Des ingénieurs pour un monde nouveau. Histoire des enseignements électrotechniques (Europe, Amériques) – XIXe–XXe siècle

Marcela Efmertová et André Grelon

 À partir des années 1880, l’électricité est progressivement devenue une technologie centrale, qui va procurer des biens et assurer des services nouveaux, bouleversant ainsi la production industrielle, l’économie et les pratiques sociales et culturelles. De confidentiel, son usage ne cessera de s’étendre, devenant massif et planétaire, et aujourd’hui indispensable jusqu’aux détails de la vie quotidienne. Pour fonder et déployer un système de production, de transport et de distribution efficaces de l’électricité dans tous les pays, pour concevoir, fabriquer et diffuser les machines, outils et objets divers fonctionnant par ce moyen, en somme pour former un monde nouveau, il faut former un corps de techniciens spécialisés : ce seront les ingénieurs électriciens, pour lesquels seront élaborés et mis en œuvre des cursus dédiés. Cet ouvrage retrace la naissance et la croissance de ces formations, à partir de la fin du XIXe siècle, en Europe et sur le continent américain, et leur rôle dans le développement des différents États. Issu des travaux d’un colloque international tenu à Prague, il rassemble les contributions de 28 historiens portant sur 15 pays.

https://www.peterlang.com/view/product/61960?

Article : “IT firms have changed the game of entrepreneurship”

Published in The Hindu, 18th October 2016

An interview with Roland Lardinois

From studying the economic strength of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) firms in India to analysing the background of the person at the helm of these firms, a French senior sociologist has attempted to take a closer look into the sociography of the major companies of the ICT sector in India.

Continue reading : http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/it-firms-have-changed-the-game-of-entrepreneurship/article9232740.ece

Article : The historical roots of our engineering obsession

by Aparajith Ramnath

“The birth anniversary of M. Visvesvaraya (September 15) is marked each year as Engineer’s Day. As another Engineer’s Day arrives, the now-familiar statistics will be rolled out again: lakhs of engineering graduates are produced in India each year from the thousands of engineering colleges that dot the country. This should lead us to examine some questions. What is the secret behind Indians’ love affair with engineering? Are there socio-cultural factors that make the Indian particularly suited to engineering, or that make engineering particularly desirable to Indians?… “

Continue reading here : http://www.thehindu.com/thread/reflections/article9110857.ece

 

Book : Une histoire des ingénieurs civils des mines

Marco Bertilorenzi, Jean-Philippe Passaqui et Anne-Françoise Garçon, Entre technique et gestion, une histoire des « ingénieurs civils des mines », XIXe-XXe siècles, Paris, Presses des Mines, 2016

Présentation générale 

Les « ingénieurs civils des mines », longtemps restés dans l’ombre de ceux du Corps des mines, ont pourtant exercé une influence décisive dans le processus d’industrialisation en France et ailleurs. Issus tout d’abord des Écoles des mines de Paris et de Saint-Étienne, auxquelles se sont ensuite ajoutées celles d’Alès, de Douai, de Nancy, et enfin de Nantes et d’Albi, les ingénieurs civils des mines ont été, au cours des XIXe et XXe siècles, des acteurs majeurs, omniprésents, de l’industrialisation.

À quoi est due une telle réussite ? Le « complexe technique » des mines est intrinsèquement lié à d’autres industries, telles que la métallurgie et la chimie, et implique la maîtrise de compétences diversifiées, étoffées, afin de mener une exploitation rationnelle des ressources nationales. Cependant, les seules compétences techniques sont insuffisantes ; elles doivent être associées à une maîtrise complète de la gestion et de l’administration d’une entreprise industrielle, un savoir-faire dont disposent les ingénieurs civils des mines.

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Website : Public Works Department History of services, Burma 1910-1947

The purpose is to briefly document the history of the Public Works Department (P.W.D.) from about 1910 to 1947 and to give some insight in respect to:
· The Engineers
·  The infrastructure projects of the time

The basis is historic reports available from resources published on the internet and the author’s observations of the period.  The author’s father was a Sub Divisional Officer of the P.W.D. from 1922 to 1955

http://www.angloburmeselibrary.com/public-works-department.html

Blog British Library : Engineering a career in India

“Copy despatches to India on the results of the final examinations” – a somewhat dry description of a file from the Public Works Department of the India Office.  It obscures the fact that the contents offer fascinating glimpses into the world of late Victorian technical education and the talents (or lack thereof) of the young men who underwent training in Britain before taking up positions in India. They passed through various courses of instruction at the Royal Indian Engineering College at Cooper’s Hill in Surrey, which opened in 1872.”

http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/untoldlives/2014/05/engineering-a-career-in-india.html

ENGIND Seminar : 17/06/16, EHESS Paris, Educating the Engineering Elite

IIT KanpurENGIND Seminar 17th June 2016, EHESS, Paris, Room N°662, 2-5 pm

Odile Henry, Mathieu Ferry

Educating the engineering elite.

Classifications and classification categories in the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs)

Since Independence Engineering studies have been seen as a force capable of transforming Indian society, with advanced technology being central to the development model. The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) hence particularly embody the values of modern India. Exempted from the application of reservation policies to start with, IITs tend to be perceived as places that produce a meritocratic elite, freed from the contingencies related to caste and their political exploitation. The success of former IITs students in the US computer industry in the 1980s and the liberalization of the Indian economy in the 1990s tend to make IITs a “brand” associated with Indian global competitiveness and the values of a private sector disembedded from the social and political spheres.

Based on an ongoing fieldwork in one of these technical elite education institutions, we will question this meritocratic model.

The analysis of the process of admission, orientation towards streams (degrees and discipline), selection during the training, and placement on the labor market, highlights the types of hierarchy that exist within the student population and the trends that contribute to the global reproduction of social inequalities.

 

Book : Engineering War and Peace in Modern Japan, 1868-1964

Naval, aeronautic, and mechanical engineers played a powerful part in the military buildup of Japan in the early and mid-twentieth century. They belonged to a militaristic regime and embraced the importance of their role in it. Takashi Nishiyama examines the impact of war and peace on technological transformation during the twentieth century. He is the first to study the paradoxical and transformative power of Japan’s defeat in World War II through the lens of engineering.

Nishiyama asks: How did authorities select and prepare young men to be engineers? How did Japan develop curricula adequate to the task (and from whom did the country borrow)? Under what conditions? What did the engineers think of the planes they built to support Kamikaze suicide missions? But his study ultimately concerns the remarkable transition these trained engineers made after total defeat in 1945. How could the engineers of war machines so quickly turn to peaceful construction projects such as designing the equipment necessary to manufacture consumer products? Most important, they developed new high-speed rail services, including the Shinkansen Bullet Train. What does this change tell us not only about Japan at war and then in peacetime but also about the malleability of engineering cultures?

Nishiyama aims to counterbalance prevalent Eurocentric/Americentric views in the history of technology.  Engineering War and Peace in Modern Japan, 1868–1964 sets the historical experience of one country’s technological transformation in a larger international framework by studying sources in six different languages: Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish. The result is a fascinating read for those interested in technology, East Asia, and international studies. Nishiyama’s work offers lessons to policymakers interested in how a country can recover successfully after defeat.

Takashi Nishiyama is an assistant professor of history at the State University of New York, Brockport.

Séminaire : Que fait la figure de l’ingénieur au monde social en Inde? 19/02/2016

Séminaire de recherche IDHES-Département de sociologie

Lignes d’effervescence en sociologie des groupes professionnels

Première séance : Vendredi 19 février 10h-12h30

Salle T11, bâtiment T, Université de Nanterre

Roland Lardinois

(Centre d’études de l’Inde et de l’Asie du Sud, CNRS)

Que fait la figure de l’ingénieur au monde social en Inde ?

Résumé : La prolifération des écoles d’ingénieurs en Inde depuis une vingtaine d’années, la compétition accrue pour parvenir à entrer dans les écoles les plus prestigieuses comme les Indian Institute of Technology, le développement sans précédent de centres de préparation (coaching centers) aux concours d’entrée dans ces écoles professionnelles (ingénieurs et médecine), la mise en place d’un système parascolaire organisé sur un mode quasi-industriel pour s’adresser à ces milliers de candidats potentiels, le poids des formations informatiques liées à l’expansion du secteur des technologies de l’information, l’exemplarité donnée par quelques grandes firmes multinationales comme Infosys, tout cela contribue à interroger ce que la figure de l’ingénieur fait à la société indienne dans un contexte de libéralisation économique où tout service éducatif se monnaie sur un marché libre qui n’épargne aucun secteur de l’économie que l’Etat peine à encadrer.

Le séminaire « Lignes d’effervescence en sociologie des groupes professionnels »

Dans le travail de tout chercheur, il existe des domaines familiers, dans lesquels une solide expérience a été acquise, et des domaines en cours d’exploration, où des investigations ont été engagées mais n’ont pas encore donné lieu à des connaissances reconnues et stabilisées. Pour le dire à la manière de T. Kuhn, l’activité de recherche comporte des aspects de « science normale » et des points d’effervescence, des pistes dans lesquelles on s’aventure pour aborder un domaine nouveau ou s’essayer à des cadres théoriques inhabituels. C’est à la présentation de tels chantiers, à ces objets ou perspectives à l’état d’esquisse qu’est consacré ce séminaire : l’auteur-e sera invité-e à faire part de ses réflexions, ses choix et ses hésitations, sans cacher les difficultés ou les doutes qu’il rencontre.

Public

Le séminaire est conçu à l’attention des étudiant-e-s du master « Etudes et recherches sociologiques, des chercheur-e-s de l’IDHES, des membres du département de sociologie de Nanterre, mais il est ouvert à l’ensemble des chercheur-e-s et doctorant-e-s intéressé-e-s.

Séance suivante

Le 11 mars 2016, Reinhard Gressel (IFSTTAR) et Charles Gadea (IDHES) : « Les professionnels mobiles. Une problématique en mouvement »

Coordination

Valérie Boussard (IDHES) valerie.boussard@u-paris10.fr et Charles Gadea (IDHES) charles .gadea@u-paris10.fr