Critiquing Engineering Practice from Archimedes to Modern Technological Progress

Lunchtime Lectures
Tuesday, December 20, 2022
12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m. EST (UTC -5)

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Employees in laboratory

Laboratory staff in the High Polymer Division of the Naval Air Engineering Center’s Aeromaterials Laboratory examine polymers used to coat aircraft metals, 1968.

Science History Institute

Bono Shih’s talk will examine widely held beliefs and practices in modern engineering stemming from military conflicts during ancient Greek and Roman times. He will demonstrate that they were associated, mutually reinforced, and cemented by the urgency of ancient siege warfare and its life-or-death consequences.

While these practices originated in a military context, they became increasingly prominent in civilian sectors, where the development of modern economic and commercial competition created universal pressure for technological progress. Finally, looking at present-day engineering, Shih will draw from his previous work to discuss policy recommendations that question the conditions of these practices, offset their exclusive mutual support, and empower alternatives.


About the Speaker

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Bono Shih

Bono Shih.

Bono Po-Jen Shih is an interdisciplinary scholar working in the intersection of philosophy, history, and sociology of engineering with an eye to research implications for contemporary engineering practice and education. Expanding on a part of his dissertation that broadly surveys historical ideas of engineering in Western civilization since antiquity, his postdoctoral fellowship with the Science History Institute focuses on chemical engineering since the late 19th century.

Shih earned his PhD and MS in science and technology studies (STS) from Virginia Tech. He also holds a graduate certificate in engineering education (ENGE) from Virginia Tech and a bachelor of science in electrical engineering from National Taiwan University.


About the Series

Our virtual Lunchtime Lecture Series takes a rigorous and entertaining approach to exploring topics for scholars and anyone interested in stories about the history of science, technology, and medicine. The talks help expand perceptions of the nature of science and how it’s done.