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Unit 3Instructional Objectives:Describe differences between engineering practice in independent workshops versus corporate research laboratoriesAnalyze patterns of inventionCritically assess the accuracy of commonly held ideas about inventionDiscuss the influences of working in corporations on the experiences and patterns of engineering practiceReadings:-139751884_1-139751885_1-139751886_1I.Unit questionHow 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 ofthe reciprocality of theory and practice, to say theoretical scientific knowledge is the mostimportant, 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 NotesA.Patterns of inventionsSystemsEvery 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 oEx. Erie canal, Edison’s lightbulbNot all systems are equal
oIn 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 projectsRadical versus conservative inventionRadical inventions – introduce whole new ways of doing things that create industries andoften destroy others oEx. Electric light ends oil lampsConservative 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 innovation1933 chicago fair slogan: “Science finds, industry applies, man conforms”Yet it turns out that its not always appropriatePromoting the ideaoVannevar Bush helped coordinate the activity of government and scientists in WWIIoBefore the war, there was relatively little regular government funding of basic