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Three Deadly Venoms: Phenomenology, Existentialism, and Philosophical Constructs to Expand Engineering Education Research Methodologies and Philosophy

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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

Integration of Liberal Education into Engineering

Tagged Divisions

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society and Engineering Ethics

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1523.1 - 22.1523.17



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Paper Authors


George D. Ricco Purdue University, West Lafayette

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George D. Ricco is a doctoral student in Purdue University's School of Engineering Education. He previously received an M.S. in Earth and Planetary Sciences studying geospatial imaging and an M.S. in Physics studying high-pressure, high-temperature FT-IR spectroscopy in heavy water, both from the University of California at Santa Cruz. He has a B.S.E. in Engineering Physics with a concentration in Electrical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University.

His academic interests include longitudinal analysis, visualization, semantics, team formation, gender issues, existential phenomenology, and Lagomorph physiology.

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The Engineer through a Multidisciplinary Lens Our work invokes multiple theoretical approaches to the question of the engineer’sperception of his/her place in the field of engineering through lenses within social psychologyand modern philosophy. We aim to help augment current conversations on and further dialogueas to what engineering is from ethnomethodological (or existential phenomenological) andsymbolic interactionism points of view. The foundation of our work is the current state ofengineering and how to address the engineer’s negotiation of his/her state of affairs. We believethis work has strong implications amidst recent publications invoking epistemologies based uponmodern philosophers, and strive to engender critical thought around some misusedmethodologies in engineering education. With the advancement of such approaches to engineering thought and philosophy, a moregrounded understanding of what engineers do and what they are should emerge along with newtools to address engineering problems. The lack of a unified engineering history of science or anengineering philosophy is evident by a dearth of core philosophical descriptions of theengineering field and a robust language to communicate such concepts. While there are treatisesthat eloquently describe the foundation of design, there is no social psychological theory ofengineering contained within a generalizable ethnomethodology or symbolic interactionismframework. Such constructs could prove invaluable not only to the engineering educationcommunity, but to the outside community as they develop a better understanding of ouremerging discipline. In this paper we will discuss what one can know and how one could knowwhat the engineer experiences from first principles in multiple disciplines, provide frameworkthat intersects ethnomethodology and symbolic interactionism for engineering perception andaction, and map these constructs to current research within engineering design and philosophy.

Ricco, G. D. (2011, June), Three Deadly Venoms: Phenomenology, Existentialism, and Philosophical Constructs to Expand Engineering Education Research Methodologies and Philosophy Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18814

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