June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.227.1 - 14.227.8
Applied and Use-Inspired Research in the College of Technology: A Rationale for Defining a Research Domain Introduction The College of Technology at Purdue University is in some respects in a unique position in that it offers very large diverse programs of study at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Purdue University is a research-intensive university that is nationally recognized in Engineering, Technology, and the Sciences. In the last few years research funding at Purdue has increased at a high rate due to the efforts of our present and immediate past presidents of the university and our faculty who have embraced the strategic plans which guides the research growth. The College of Technology is expected to engage in funded research and contribute to the overall growth of funded research at Purdue University. The College of Technology has seized this opportunity to grow research and increase the enrollment of graduate students and graduate curricula. In doing so it has become necessary to clearly define our research domain to differentiate and identify overlaps with existing engineering and science research domains. This paper provides an intellectual and philosophical basis for defining a research domain for technology and engineering technology and states a position on the role of research in engineering technology.
Historical Context of Research To understand the roles and goals of research in the United States and its institutions of higher education, one would have to begin with the influences of ancient Greek culture. To broadly understand and appreciate the role of research it is recommended that the reader refer to Stokes1. Although Greek culture did not have an equivalent for science, they did develop scientific inquiry. They were able to regard the world as a natural system governed by general and discoverable natural causes and to leave the gods out. They believed that natural causes could be explained by rational inquiry.
The other major contribution to our modern view of research was the Greek’s philosophic motive of severing “inquiry” from “use” which was strongly reinforced in Greek civilization by the consignment of the practical arts to people of lesser class and manual labor to slaves. As a result, practical utility was rejected as a legitimate end of natural philosophy and this became the core belief in the Platonic and Aristotelian systems of thought. Plato’s ideal Republic radically separated those engaged in philosophic inquiry from those engaged in the manual arts by assigning a more exalted position to philosophic inquiry. This thought set in motion a tension that remains today between pure and applied research or research to gain new knowledge and research for practical use.
The views of the Greek philosophers towards scientific inquiry have been challenged throughout the ages. Challenges started most notably by the Hippocratic physicians of ancient Greece who sought knowledge to better practice medicine. Later, Francis Bacon’s expressed the view that techniques were knowledge rather than fruits of knowledge. However, there have also been many more defenders of the linear approach to research who claim that applied or use-based research flows from basic research, including the most influential person in the United States regarding research during his time, Vannevar Bush. After the recognition by our nation’s leaders for the important role that research played in World War II, Bush was commissioned by
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