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Locating Engineers: Education, Knowledge, Desire

INES Workshop 2006

Overview  |  INES  |  Sponsors and hosts  |  Organizers
Plans for dissemination  |  Deadlines  |  Travel  |  Format  |  Manuscripts  |  Video Introductions


Reform in engineering education has become an object of intense interest and desire in countries throughout the world. What is at stake in the contents of education for engineers, and for whom?

This first workshop of the International Network for Engineering Studies (INES), sponsored by the U.S. National Science Foundation and Virginia Tech, will bring together researchers on the history, social and cultural studies, and philosophy of engineering education to address these questions by placing them in wider historical and cultural contexts.

How have the social, political, and epistemological issues involved in locating engineers varied across space and time? What have been key struggles in different countries? What have been the implications of outcomes in engineering education for emerging national identities as well as transnational projects ranging from industrial capitalism to globalization? What have been the implications of engineering education for emerging sciences and technologies?

This three-day workshop will employ a unique format of focused discussion around 16-18 previously-drafted papers in order both to bring together researchers working on these topics in different countries and to identify critical issues and opportunities for further research. The Workshop will provide travel subsidies and defray local expenses for participants submitting manuscripts, as well as up to four Ph.D. students from other U.S. institutions.

Plans for dissemination include a coordinated set of publications in 3-4 journals, web-based video/audio streaming and transcripts to inform scholars not able to participate, and an edited book collection.

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International Network for Engineering Studies (INES)

The International Network for Engineering Studies was born in August 2004 in Paris, France, and currently has more than 150 members.

The organization has three purposes: (a) to advance research in historical, social, cultural, and philosophical studies of engineers and engineering; (b) to build a visible international community of researchers interested in engineering studies; and (c) to draw upon research in engineering studies to contribute to public discussions and debates about engineering education and policy.

INES expects to hold a second workshop in Taiwan in Fall 2007 around the topic of engineers and the workplace and a third workshop in Portugal in Fall 2008 around the topic of engineers and technology.

INES members also work collaboratively within and between existing professional societies to advance work in engineering studies. Look for sessions listed as "Affiliated with the International Network for Engineering Studies."

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Sponsors and hosts

This workshop is sponsored by the U.S. National Science Foundation Grant #OISE-0527163 and by Virginia Tech. Contributing organizations at Virginia Tech include the Department of Science and Technology in Society, Department of Engineering Education, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, College of Engineering, and Research Division.

Co-hosts for the Workshop include the Department of Science and Technology in Society, Department of Engineering Education, and Department of Philosophy.

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Gary Downey, Science and Technology Studies, Virginia Tech
Hayden Griffin, Engineering Education, Virginia Tech
Joseph Pitt, Philosophy, Virginia Tech
Maria Paula Diogo, History, University of Lisbon
Chyuan-Yuan Wu, Sociology, National Tsing Hua University (Taiwan)
Sharon Ruff (Graduate Assistant), Science and Technology Studies, Virginia Tech

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Plans for dissemination

Plans for dissemination include (a) a coordinated set of publications in 3-4 journals; (b) web-based streamed video from the speed plenary sessions and audio from the collective editing sessions to inform and involve interested scholars who were not able to attend; and (c) an edited collection of 8-10 manuscripts.

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Important deadlines

December 1, 2005: Manuscript proposals and requests from Ph.D. students to attend are due.

Please send in pdf format to Sharon Ruff (sruff at

Manuscript proposals should be 500-1000 words giving an outline of the intellectual or research issues with which the paper is grappling as well as an overview of the empirical contents. Please attempt to position your work in the context of other relevant work in order to increase the chances that your work will be seen as advancing your field or pushing its boundaries in some way. One purpose of the Workshop is to attract and help guide other scholars who might want to get involved in engineering studies.

Please include relevant contact information with your abstract, including telephone number, mailing address, fax number, and professional weblink (if available).

January 15, 2006: Notification of acceptance

The organizers are seeking to put together a program that is balanced both intellectually and according to participation by scholars both outside and inside the U.S.

After this date, the organizers will begin negotiating with journal editors for a coordinated set of journal publications. Our hope is to publish all the contributed papers in these journals. The organizers will also make initial contacts with book publishers about a possible collection. Because of limitations on total length, the proposed book collection will likely have to be be limited to 8-10 of the manuscripts.

July 1, 2006: Completed draft papers are due

Please limit manuscripts to 7,500 words of text and a reasonable number of footnotes and bibliography. We recognize that customary formats vary across fields and will work with you. Please don't hesitate to contact us.

Participants that miss this deadline will forfeit their travel support to the Workshop.

July 15, 2006: Papers will be made available to respondents, along with Workshop assignments

Due to the unique format of this Workshop, all participants will be responsible for reading, having a thorough understanding, and being prepared to lead discussion on a subset of the 16-18 manuscripts in Collective Editing Sessions.

Participants should also have read the remaining papers and be prepared to participate actively in the Collective Editing Sessions.

September 10-13, 2006: Workshop takes place

December 15, 2006: Edited manuscripts are due for journal publication

January 15, 2007: The organizers will submit manuscripts to the coordinated set of 3-4 journals for review and begin preparing the book collection

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Travel and local support for participants (pending final local approval)

The Workshop budget will pay directly for single rooms at the new Inn at Virginia Tech for all participants, including 3 nights for domestic participants and 4 nights for international participants, as well as for two dinner receptions. In addition, participants will receive a $31 per diem reimbursement for other meals and incidentals.

Domestic participants will receive a $400 reimbursement for airfare and international participants will receive a $750 reimbursement. The organizers are working on increasing the airfare reimbursment for international participants. NSF will not pay travel or local expenses for international participants.

Equal support is available for up to four Ph.D. students attending from U.S. institutions.

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Workshop format

The Workshop has a unique format, consisting of an Opening Speed Plenary, eight Collective Editing sessions, and a Closing Speed Plenary and Final Articulation. The purpose of this format is to maximize the learning of participants, value of contributions to submitted manuscripts, and level of intellectual engagement among participants.

A version of this model has been used successfully at the weeklong seminar that produced the Cyborgs and Citadels collection, as well as at some annual meetings of anthropologists of science, technology, and medicine.

The Opening Speed Plenary will consist of two-minute introductions by each of the attendees at the Workshop. The attendees will consist of the participants as well as others interested in attending. The Workshop room will have both a rectangular set of tables for participants surrounded by seats for other attendees. Other attendees are invited to read manuscripts and participate in the collective editing sessions.

The Opening Speed Plenary is designed to solve one of the most common problems at three-day Workshops and conferences—getting participants interacting directly with the people with whom they have the most to exchange. In this system, each attendee is responsible for delivering a plenary address, albeit for two minutes only.

The main structure of the Workshop consists of the Collective Editing discussion sessions. The Workshop organizers will assign a Primary Respondent and Secondary Respondent for each manuscript. The Primary Respondent will be responsible for summarizing the main argument of the manuscript, positioning it in the scholarly literature, and offering suggestions for improving it. The Secondary Respondent will be responsible for supplementing this discussion and calling attention to the broader implications of the work, including contemporary policies pertaining to engineering education.

In the 40-minute session assigned to a given manuscript, the author will have 2-3 minutes to introduce and position the argument and then must sit quietly, listen, and take notes for the balance of the discussion. The Primary Respondent will have 6-7 minutes and the Secondary Respondent will have 3-4 minutes.

The effect of this system on participants can be dramatic. It can transform the typical point-counterpoint of a question-and-answer session into a process of collective editing and authorship. Since authors cannot speak, others must speak on their behalf and participants find they have little incentive to attack someone who cannot respond. Instead, Workshop participants progressively take on the responsibilities of authorship, both articulating strengths and offering editing advice, and the whole event is transformed into a discussion to make the manuscripts more effective. In effect, each paper belongs to all.

The Closing Speed Plenary will challenge each participant to articulate and summarize key issues, opportunities, and barriers that have emerged. Knowing this is coming, please endeavor to maintain a high level of attention throughout the event.

The Final Articulation will consist of a facilitated discussion of (a) conceptual and methodological issues in engineering studies research on engineering education; (b) key pathways for engineering studies research on engineering education to participate in policymaking; (c) dissemination plans through journal publications and web streaming of the Workshop; and (d) plans for future research collaborations, including the 2007 Workshop in Taiwan and 2008 Workshop in Portugal.

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