From Two Worlds to One: How We Split the Social and Technical Worlds of Engineering...and Why It Matters

Event Date: November 8, 2012
Speaker: James Huff
Speaker Affiliation: Assistant Education Administrator, EPICS; Doctoral Candidate, School of Engineering Education, Purdue University
Time: 3:30pm
Location: ARMS B071

What does it mean to be a competent engineer? Is such an engineer concerned with people and the complexity of SOCIAL interactions around technologies? Or should such person be concerned mainly with the TECHNICAL structure and functioning of artifacts and systems? Or should it be BOTH? While many recognize that engineering should increasingly reflect concerns of the social world, many also refuse to abandon the technical core of engineering ability and identity. Perhaps our pursuit should be to embody an INTEGRATED social and technical, or SOCIOTECHNICAL, identity. This talk explores my ongoing dissertation research to understand how engineering students cognitively develop toward, embrace or resist such sociotechnical abilities and identities.

James Huff is Assistant Education Administrator for EPICS at Purdue University as well as a Ph.D. candidate in engineering education. He is currently on academic leave from his faculty position in engineering at Harding University. He received his M.S. degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Purdue and a B.S. in Computer Engineering from Harding University. James has industry experience working as a technical lead engineer at Simulex, a human simulation software company. While at Harding, he co-initiated a partnership with a primary school in Peltan, Haiti, called Ansanm (i.e., “together”). In his role with EPICS, he continues to be active in facilitating and developing partnerships in Haiti with the goal of designing with (and not for) community.