A lecture and panel discussion at the National Academy of Engineering, sponsored by the National Museum of Industrial History.
Welcome and Introductory Remarks
Steven W. Usselman, Georgia Institute of Technology
President, Society for the History of Technology
Stephen Donches, President and Chief Executive Officer
National Museum of Industrial History, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Henry Petroski, Duke University: “Success through Failure”
Rosalind Williams, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Immediate Past President, Society for the History of Technology
Charles M. Vest, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
President, National Academy of Engineering
Henry Petroski is the Aleksandar S. Vesic Professor of Civil Engineering and a professor of history at Duke University. His books include To Engineer is Human, Design Paradigms, Engineers of Dreams, The Evolution of Useful Things, The Pencil, The Book on the Bookshelf, Small Things Considered, and, most recently, Success through Failure: The Paradox of Design. He is a columnist for American Scientist and ASEE Prism, and a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the American Society of Civil Engineers, whose History and Heritage Committee he chairs. He is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the National Academy of Engineering. His upcoming book is a technical and cultural history of the toothpick.
Rosalind Williams is the Bern Dibner Professor of the History of Science and Technology in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She served as Dean of Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs at MIT from 1995 to 2000 and as Head of the Science, Technology, and Society Program from 2002 to 2006. Her scholarship focuses on the emergence of a predominantly human-built world, with particular attention to imaginative literature as a source of evidence and insight. In her most recent book, Retooling: A Historian Confronts Technological Change (2002), she analyzes the multiple effects of the “information age” on higher education and the engineering profession.
Charles M. Vest is President Emeritus and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During his tenure as MIT’s President, from 1990 through 2004, he placed special emphasis on strengthening the partnership among universities, government, and industry to achieve common goals in science and technology, and, on his campus, enhancing undergraduate education and racial, gender, and cultural diversity. In 2006 he was awarded the National Medal of Technology, which honors America’s leading innovators for outstanding contributions to the nation’s economic, environmental, and social well-being. He is the author of Pursuing the Endless Frontier: Essays on MIT and the Role of Research Universities and The American Research University from World War II to World Wide Web.
The National Museum of Industrial History (NMIH) was incorporated in 1997 as the first Affiliate Museum of the Smithsonian Institution. Its mission is to educate the public on the role of industry in building the United States during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by collecting, preserving, showcasing, and interpreting historic artifacts and graphic materials. The aim is to provide the context for understanding the critical importance of industry’s role in the twenty-first-century economy. NMIH is located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on the site of the former Bethlehem Steel Plant; it is part of a brownfield redevelopment plan undertaken by Sands BethWorks, which operates Bethlehem’s new casino. The opening of the initial NMIH exhibit building is scheduled for 2008. Presently, visitors can arrange for tours of NMIH’s Preview and Staging Facility by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) was established in 1964 as a private, independent, nonprofit corporation. It operates collectively with the National Academy of Sciences, the National Research Council, and the Institute of Medicine as the United States National Academies. The NAE has more than 2,300 peer-elected members and foreign associates who are mandated to provide leadership and expertise “whenever called upon by any department or agency of the government,” as wells as conduct independent studies focused the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. It annually awards the Charles Stark Draper Prize, in the amount of $500,000, for the advancement of engineering and the education of the public about engineering.
The Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) was founded in 1957-1958 as a nonprofit educational organization to encourage international and interdisciplinary study of technology and its historical relations with engineering, design, science, politics, public policy, economics, labor, business, the environment, and the arts. Membership benefits include a subscription to its quarterly journal, Technology and Culture, in both print and online form, a quarterly newsletter, and discounted registration at its annual meetings. For more information about SHOT, or to join, visit www.historyoftechnology.org, e-mail email@example.com, or call 410.516.6980.