Asee peer logo

Integrating Historical Technologies And Their Impact On Society Into Today's Engineering Curriculum

Download Paper |


2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Engineering Courses for Non-engineers

Tagged Division

Technological Literacy Constituent Committee

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.759.1 - 14.759.13



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


William Loendorf Eastern Washington University

visit author page

William R. Loendorf is currently an Associate 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, real-time embedded systems, and digital signal processing.

visit author page


Terence Geyer Eastern Washington University

visit author page

Terence L. D. Geyer is currently a Lecturer in the Department of Engineering & Design at Eastern Washington University. He obtained his B.S. in Manufacturing Technology and M.Ed. in Adult Education in a specially combined program of Technology and Education at Eastern Washington University. His interests include collecting and re-manufacturing older technologies.

visit author page

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Integrating Historical Technologies and their Impact on Society into Today’s Engineering Curriculum


Technologies of all types surround us today. Most are now so commonplace that they are simply taken for granted. It is only when they do not work as expected that they are noticed. What is lacking is an understanding of how these technologies accomplish their tasks. People may know how to utilize many of these technologies but know nothing about how they really work. To many the social, political, and economic impact of technologies is also unknown. However, this may not be a new phenomenon. Humans have utilized technologies to enhance their capabilities since the beginning of time. It started with simple stone tools and progressed in steps over time to where we are today. Perhaps even early technologies were misunderstood by the people of the time and today’s lack of understanding is just a continuance of that tendency. This may even be the case for today’s engineering students. For the most part, current technologies are included in the engineering and engineering technology curriculum. However, technologies from the past are not. To remedy the situation, a project was initiated to enhance the engineering student’s knowledge of how past technologies were developed. The objective was to improve their awareness of technology’s historical heritage and foundation. In order to accomplish this an active learning hands-on component was added to a traditional lecture based course studying the effects of technology on society. Technologies from the past were researched and manufactured utilizing historical skills, tools, and methods. The students examined the artifacts during the classroom discussion of the particular technologies, giving them a better understanding of the engineering challenges encountered and how they were overcome. Initial results from the project indicate improved interest, awareness, and retention of the evolution of technology. Overall, the engineering students have an enhanced understanding of past technological issues that can be utilized to tackle future technological challenges.


Technologies envelop our lives today. In fact, people have become so dependent upon them that they cannot comprehend living without them. Yet few people understand where they came from and how they work. Even more people are unaware of the social, political, and economic impact of these technologies on civilizations ranging from the distant past to the present. This may not be a new trend but rather a continuance of a very old one.

Technologies have been used since the beginning of time to augment human capabilities. It started with tools made of stone, wood, and animal parts that could be utilized for hunting, security, building, and other uses. Over time, a base of knowledge was established that evolved into much more. Inventions and innovations of all types were being created that allowed humans to modify and alter their environment. Some made life easier and more comfortable, while others extended human capabilities and increased productivity.

Loendorf, W., & Geyer, T. (2009, June), Integrating Historical Technologies And Their Impact On Society Into Today's Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5103

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2009 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015