2011 Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC.

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The Engineer through a Multidisciplinary Lens Our work invokes multiple theoretical approaches to the question of the engineer’s perception of his/her place in the field of engineering through lenses within social psychology and modern philosophy. We aim to help augment current conversations on and further dialogue as to what engineering is from ethnomethodological (or existential phenomenological) and symbolic interactionism points of view. The foundation of our work is the current state of engineering and how to address the engineer’s negotiation of his/her state of affairs. We believe this work has strong implications amidst recent publications invoking epistemologies based upon modern philosophers, and strive to engender critical thought around some misused methodologies in engineering education. With the advancement of such approaches to engineering thought and philosophy, a more grounded understanding of what engineers do and what they are should emerge along with new tools to address engineering problems. The lack of a unified engineering history of science or an engineering philosophy is evident by a dearth of core philosophical descriptions of the engineering field and a robust language to communicate such concepts. While there are treatises that eloquently describe the foundation of design, there is no social psychological theory of engineering contained within a generalizable ethnomethodology or symbolic interactionism framework. Such constructs could prove invaluable not only to the engineering education community, but to the outside community as they develop a better understanding of our emerging discipline. In this paper we will discuss what one can know and how one could know what the engineer experiences from first principles in multiple disciplines, provide framework that intersects ethnomethodology and symbolic interactionism for engineering perception and action, and map these constructs to current research within engineering design and philosophy.


2011, ASEE, methodologies, philosophy, EER

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