The Engineer and "The Public": exploring this fundamental yet ill-defined relationship
- Wednesday, September 20, 2017 from 3:00pm to 5:00pm
- Strand Union Building, Procrastinator Theater - view map
The engineering profession identifies its role in society as one of service, improving livelihoods and creating a better world. In these ambitions, “the public” is imagined as the beneficiary of engineers’ work. Yet we know very little about how engineers see the public, what role the public has in engineering work, or who defines these roles. Through a lens of “social imaginaries”, this work explores the fuzzy, ill-defined, invisible, and often unconscious boundary that the engineering profession draws to separate itself from “the public” and define its role in society. Drawing from analysis of foundational engineering documents; interviews with engineering students, faculty and professionals; and interviews with members of “the public” who have interacted extensively with engineers in efforts to address environmental contamination and injustice in their communities, it throws into relief central elements of this boundary - where is comes from, how it is enacted, and what effects it may have on engineers' stated mission to serve the public and create a better world.
Dr. Nathan Canney received B.S. degrees in Civil Engineering and Mathematics from Seattle University in 2006. After that, he worked as a structural engineer with Magnusson Klemencic Associates in Seattle, WA, designing high-rise structures domestically and abroad. After doing consulting work for two years, Dr. Canney returned to school at Stanford University for a Masters in Structural Engineering and the University of Colorado Boulder for doctoral work. Most recently, Dr. Canney was on the faculty at Seattle University in the Civil and Environmental Engineering department. His research focuses on assessing and improving engineering education, specifically the development of social responsibility in engineering students and professionals. Toward this end, Dr. Canney's research and teaching have focused on ethics education and the use of service learning to positively influence students' views of themselves as engineers in society.
- Paul Gannon