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Creating Interest in Technological Literacy by Reintroducing Past Technologies

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Technological Literacy

Tagged Division

Technological and Engineering Literacy/Philosophy of Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.395.1 - 22.395.11



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Paper Authors


William R. Loendorf Eastern Washington University

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William R. Loendorf is currently a Full Professor of Engineering & Design at Eastern Washington University. He obtained his B.Sc. in Engineering Science at the University of Wisconsin - Parkside, M.S. in Electrical Engineering at Colorado State University, M.B.A. at the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, and Ph.D. in Engineering Management at Walden University. He holds a Professional Engineer license and has 30 years of industrial experience as an Engineer or Engineering Manager at General Motors, Cadnetix, and Motorola. His interests include engineering management, technological literacy, improving the competitiveness of American companies, and real-time embedded systems.

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Creating Interest in Technological Literacy by Reintroducing Past TechnologiesAbstractStudents understand and use today’s technologies. They are so familiar with their operation andcapabilities that many cannot imagine living without them. Most of them, in fact, would be lostand not have a clue what to do. They are part of the new technology generation. However,technologies of all types have existed since the beginning of time. Those technologies were lesssophisticated, typically simple, and in many ways crude but they served their purpose. Ideaswere turned into inventions, dreams became innovations, and problems were solved.These technologies changed the way people lived and worked. They made life easier, better, safer,and in many ways more comfortable. Ironically, few students recall, study, or even know muchabout many of these past technologies. It is this ability to understand past technologies andconnect them to current ones that is important. To address this issue, a series of lectures andpresentations were created that explore the historical perspective of technological development ina global context. They show how technologies are inter-related and how cultural factors affect theacceptance or rejection of technologies. The intent was to enhance the student’s understanding ofhow technologies were developed and why. The material covered also helps the student tounderstand and recognize our dependence on technology and its invasive nature into our lives.The lectures and presentations were designed to be interactive utilizing images, pictures,representations, and recreated artifacts. This historical material has been presented multiple timesto groups of students from various levels with positive reactions of intense interest, curiousquestions, and thoughtful comments. The objective was to better prepare students for thetechnological challenges they will encounter in the future by enhancing and extending theirunderstanding of past technologies and their related issues. This series of lectures andpresentations, described in this paper, has made an important contribution toward that end.

Loendorf, W. R. (2011, June), Creating Interest in Technological Literacy by Reintroducing Past Technologies Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17676

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