I am an interdisciplinary historian of innovation; engineering studies; and the emerging nexus of science, engineering, art, and design (SEAD). I teach at Virginia Tech as an associate professor of Science, Technology, and Society. My current book project, Every American an Innovator, charts the rise of “innovation expertise” from the 1960s to the present, supported by NSF award #1354121 and by the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation. I am also the co-editor of a forthcoming volume with MIT Press, which integrates critical and practical perspectives on cultivating innovators.
My first book, Engineers for Change: Competing Visions of Technology in 1960s America, was the inaugural volume in the MIT Press Engineering Studies series. The book explores the history of the US engineering profession in the postwar era, focusing particularly on engineers’ struggles over social responsibility. My essays and reviews have appeared in The Atlantic, IEEE Spectrum, Science, Technology and Culture, and the Washington Post.
At Virginia Tech, I am a senior fellow of the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT), and a co-founder of the Human-Centered Design Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program, in which I teach graduate seminars for students from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds to critically interrogate the meaning and practices of innovation. I also have affiliated appointments in the departments of History and Engineering Education.
I am a Co-PI on the Virginia Tech faculty team for the RED (Revolutionizing Engineering Departments) program, an NSF initiative to redesign undergraduate engineering and computer science education. We are working with the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering to transform its curriculum, expand the career opportunities it offers, and ultimately broaden the pool of students entering the department.
I received my BS in Materials Science and Engineering from The Johns Hopkins University, my PhD in History from Princeton University, and my postdoctoral training as an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in the Modeling Interdisciplinary Inquiry Program at Washington University in St. Louis.
2016-2021. Luke Lester (PI), Benjamin Knapp, Tom Martin, Lisa McNair, and Matthew Wisnioski, “IUSE/PFE:RED. Radically Enhancing Pathways in the Professional Development of Engineers,” National Science Foundation Award.
November 15, 2016. “The Origins of Changemaker Engineers.” Science Studies Program. University of San Diego, CA.
November 14, 2016. “Every American an Innovator: How Innovation Became a Way of Life.” Science Studies Program. University of California, San Diego, CA.
Novembere 5-6, 2016. “Big Bird and the Artificial Kidney: Innovation Prizes and Science Policy in the Nixon Era,” History of Science Society, Atlanta, GA.
September-October, 2016. Visiting Professor, École normale supérieure de Cachan, France.
May 19-21, 2016. “The Innovator,” Ideologies and Imaginaries of Innovation, Center for Technology in Society, Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany.