Unit 3.docx - Unit 3 Instructi onal Objecti ves Describe differences between engineering practice in independent workshops versus corporate research

Unit 3.docx - Unit 3 Instructi onal Objecti ves Describe...

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Unit 3 Instructional Objectives: Describe differences between engineering practice in independent workshops versus corporate research laboratories Analyze patterns of invention Critically assess the accuracy of commonly held ideas about invention Discuss the influences of working in corporations on the experiences and patterns of engineering practice Readings: - 139751884_1 - 139751885_1 - 139751886_1 I. Unit question How important do you think theoretical scientific knowledge is to the invention of new technologies? Theory and practice have an interesting relationship. They are antonymous; however, practice is developed from theory and theory is advanced by practice. It is easy to simply say theoretical scientific knowledge is important to the invention of new technologies but, because of the reciprocality of theory and practice, to say theoretical scientific knowledge is the most important, implies that empirical scientific knowledge is equally unimportant. Empirical knowledge, knowledge gained from observed practice, is the foundation of invention; essentially, we know based on what we have seen. Take, for example, a toddler who tries to fit a square peg into a round hole; when it doesn’t fit, the toddler tries a round peg, learns that the round peg fits in the round hole based on empirical data. Theoretical knowledge, however, allows us to apply our empirical data to new, previously untested ideas, thus leading to the invention of new technologies. II. Lecture Notes A. Patterns of inventions Systems Every technology is a system, meaning that it requires at the very least a producer, an object, a user, and a social context for its use All engineering is systems engineering o Ex. Erie canal, Edison’s lightbulb Not all systems are equal
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o In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, systems become increasingly complex with several implications: Much larger engineering teams are needed Individual engineers are less able to take control of entire systems; most work on sub-systems Large bureaucracies are increasingly used to manage these projects Radical versus conservative invention Radical inventions – introduce whole new ways of doing things that create industries and often destroy others o Ex. Electric light ends oil lamps Conservative inventions ten to be refinements that improve already established industries making it more efficient Questioning the linear model It is widely argued that basic research leads to technological innovation 1933 chicago fair slogan: “Science finds, industry applies, man conforms” Yet it turns out that its not always appropriate Promoting the idea o Vannevar Bush helped coordinate the activity of government and scientists in WWII o Before the war, there was relatively little regular government funding of basic
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  • Spring '16
  • Dr. Peter Van Cleave
  • Incandescent light bulb, independent inventors

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