Appropriate Technology: A Modest Proposal

by Richard J. Heggen, (A.M.ASCE), Asst. Prof. of Civ. Engrg.; The Univ. of New Mexico, Albuquerque, N.M., 87131,

Serial Information: Issues in Engineering: Journal of Professional Activities, 1981, Vol. 107, Issue 1, Pg. 7-10

Document Type: Journal Paper


Appropriate technology implies subjective suitability evaluation of technical solutions to social requirements. Informed and critical evaluation is necessary if technology is to respond adequately to changing social needs. The training of engineers is largely directed toward physical, not social, descriptions of problems. It is proposed that an exposure to engineering applications in developing nations be included in North American engineering professional development. This exposure should not be at the expense of proper theoretical analysis. This exposure will impart some implicit understanding of engineering's common role but diverse contribution in alternative social settings. Engineers aware of and interested in technical solutions appropriate to other cultures will be better prepared to innovate engineering practice in accord with social development in their own society. Engineers aware of social-technical solutions to other cultures will be better equipped to lend their services to those societies.

Subject Headings: Social factors | Training | Developing countries | Professional development

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