Evolution of Technology (TEC 154 2014S) : Outlines
Held: Monday, 3 February 2014
Today we begin to read one engineer's perspective on technology.
Task 3: The questions below come from you folks and from my previous class. Each group gets assigned one question to answer and gets to pick one question to answer. You may have to go to the Interweb to answer Q's.
On p. 14, Petroski says "If ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, if all that has come to be human races before the fetus floating in its own prehistory, then the child playing relives the evolution of structural engineering in its blocks." What does this mean?
Why does Petroski use so many metaphors in describing engineering? Is he making a point? What goal is he accomplishing?
Petroski notes that "One thing the fairy tale implicitly teaches us as children is to live in a world of seemingly capricious structural failure and success without anxiety." (p. 18). Petroski reiterates how we learn as children to accept the risks we take using everyday technology, and as an engineer who creates said technologies he seems sure that that mentality is necessary so that progress (or even ordinary daily life) can continue. However, how does that mentality damage our society, should we be taught to both value technology but also be scared of it? Or do we/you agree that it is better to blindly accept a possible disaster rather then be frozen with fear?
What is the difference between an architect and an engineer? They both involve designing aspects, but what separates the two?
In Chapter 2 (Falling Down is a Part of Growing Up), Petroski's words echo that of Florman's "tragic view." One example of a "technological fix" might be the mass dampers (such as one installed at Taipei 101) to help counteract the sway of the ever-growing skyscrapers. What others can you think of? Do find such fixes a form of appropriate growth, or do they raise concerns? How might we address those concerns?
Why does Petroski reproduce "The Deacon's Masterpiece" on pp. 35-39?
Petroski outlines the ways that we are introduced to the world of engineering at a young age. How has young people’s exposure to technological innovation and engineering changed over time? Would children during the age of stone tools, or of a century ago, have different exposures to engineering as modern day children? How might these differences impact the rest of society?
What do the small poems or songs have to do with the paragraphs he wrote about the growing of children?
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