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Stories of Engineering

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Russ Korte's fPET-2010 presentation

Russ Korte's fPET-2010 presentation

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  • What: content, professional knowledge and experience
    How: form
    Why: beliefs and values, assumptions, ontology and epistemology

    The resources for this ongoing construction are professional knowledge, personal experience, local politics and influence, macro socio-cultural institutions.
  • Focus on the broader definition of story and the way in which it is constructed and from what (resources).

    Interviews are opportunities for simple telling, coconstruction of story, and on-the-spot construction of new knowledge.
  • Forms and structures range from prosaic social exchanges to virtuoso performances. (tellible and carefully told to less coherent and multifaceted.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Stories of Engineering: The Narrative Perspectives of New Engineers Russell Korte korte@illinois.edu University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 2010 Forum on Philosophy, Engineering & Technology Golden, CO May 9-10, 2010
    • 2. Think about: What is the first thing that pops into your mind when asked: Who are you and what do you do? 10 May 2010 2fPET2010 (c) 2010 Russell Korte
    • 3. Agenda • Overview • Narrative analysis • Stories of engineering • Conclusions 10 May 2010 3fPET2010 (c) 2010 Russell Korte
    • 4. Overview • Investigation of professional development within the discourse of new engineers. • Assuming that engineers’ professional and practical understanding is bound up with their narratives of practice. • Thus, studying how engineers constructed their stories provides insight into their professional understanding. 10 May 2010 4fPET2010 (c) 2010 Russell Korte
    • 5. Study • Interviews of new grads, first job. • Narratives transcribed into text. • Content analyzed for what, how, and why. – Focused on stories and accounts related to identity. – Focused on stories and accounts related to work. • Researcher’s stance: social constructionist 10 May 2010 5fPET2010 (c) 2010 Russell Korte
    • 6. Agenda • Overview • Narrative analysis • Stories of engineering (examples) • Conclusions 10 May 2010 6fPET2010 (c) 2010 Russell Korte
    • 7. Ways of knowing • Narrative process – Links or relates particular events, – Assigns significance to events – Overlays a plot (organizing scheme) – Focuses on local theories Bruner, 2002; Polkinghorne, 1988 10 May 2010 7fPET2010 (c) 2010 Russell Korte
    • 8. Plot formulation • Abductive process of fitting an explanation over the “facts.” • Plots and subplots can weave together complex events. Polkinghorne (1988) 10 May 2010 8fPET2010 (c) 2010 Russell Korte
    • 9. Narrative structures • Emplotment of events, characters, relationships, sequence, time, place, narrator, audience. • Range of narrative forms and structures. 10 May 2010 9fPET2010 (c) 2010 Russell Korte
    • 10. Constructing a story • Ah, let's see … I guess usually a lot of it is troubleshooting a problem, you know, that's happened on the line or whatever and it requires some form of interaction with either the mechanics and/or the process -- or the operators to get a feel from them for what happened, what they were doing, maybe what buttons they pressed or whatever the sequence was there and it's kind of -- that people side is kind of the gathering of the information. And then from there it kind of becomes a technical issue because typically you're there because they don't understand what happens or can't figure it out, so at that point once you've gathered all the information from your resources, then it becomes more of a technical issue. And that's kind of, I guess, the transition there. But even after that point there's still, you know, a point of relationship with the other engineers in the building and sometimes you need to consult them in their experiences, so it really never truly leaves the people side, I guess. Um, you know, and it's usually very heavily involved on the people side. On the technical side, I found, is not as much. Like, I don't find myself using a lot of stuff from school necessarily. It's usually very -- at least at this point what I'm learning, I am supposed to rely on people to learn things that I wasn't necessarily taught in school. So at this point I guess it's very tough for me to say this is the specific technical side of me that I, you know, may be working on myself. That doesn't happen very often. It's usually still working with people. 10 May 2010 10fPET2010 (c) 2010 Russell Korte
    • 11. De-constructing a story 1. troubleshooting a problem, 2. some form of interaction with either the mechanics and/or the process -- or the operators to get a feel from them for what happened, what they were doing, maybe what buttons they pressed or whatever the sequence was there and it's kind of – 3. that people side is kind of the gathering of the information. 4. And then from there it kind of becomes a technical issue because typically you're there because they don't understand what happens or can't figure it out, 5. And that's kind of, I guess, the transition there. 1. The context 2. Events & actors (interactions) 1. Purpose of events, role of actors 2. Signifying an event, evaluating actors 1. Establishing a transition point 10 May 2010 11fPET2010 (c) 2010 Russell Korte
    • 12. De-constructing a story 6. But even after that point there's still, you know, a point of relationship with the other engineers in the building and sometimes you need to consult them in their experiences, so it really never truly leaves the people side, I guess. 7. On the technical side, I found, is not as much. Like, I don't find myself using a lot of stuff from school necessarily. It's usually very -- at least at this point what I'm learning, 8. I am supposed to rely on people to learn things that I wasn't necessarily taught in school. 9. So at this point I guess it's very tough for me to say this is the specific technical side 6. Partial reversal of the transition 7. Questioning the utility of dual concepts 6. Significance of people in the troubleshooting process 7. Formulating a new perspective 10 May 2010 12fPET2010 (c) 2010 Russell Korte
    • 13. Narrative construction • A bounded set of events including an outcome (bounded by the author of the narrative). • A chronology ordering the events. • A finite set of actors (individuals or collectives). • A set of relationships between events. • A set of actions that link/transform events from one state to another. 10 May 2010 13fPET2010 (c) 2010 Russell Korte
    • 14. Agenda • Overview • Narrative analysis • Stories of engineering (examples) • Conclusions 10 May 2010 14fPET2010 (c) 2010 Russell Korte
    • 15. Narrative themes • Elaborating the social context. • Finding one’s way in the organization. • Assigning utility to knowledge. • Formulating a professional identity. • Straight-forward problem solving. 10 May 2010 15fPET2010 (c) 2010 Russell Korte
    • 16. Elaborating the social context. Well I needed to figure out how often they were repairing that stretch of the road, and how often maintenance has to go back there and figure out to put the material back and how often they had to go back and fill the holes. The thing about this project that was very interesting was that it was kinda controversial, because that stretch of the road is [interstate XX], and this highway goes from Texas all the way to north of Minnesota, (I think Duluth…), I’m not sure. . . Well anyway, we decided it was the only part of the road where trucks are not allowed to go through. Trucks over 9,000 pounds are not allowed to go through because when they were designing the road, the people, the neighbors around that area didn’t want to have the sounding effect of the trucks going through it. So they actually sued the [department] to avoid building that road. So then I had to figure out, What is it? What were the limitations of it? Because I couldn’t find a road that would produce, you know, sounds or levels of sound that the neighbors will like. So I had to be really careful about it, ‘cause we don’t want to get into a legal problem. So it was very interesting. 05-014n:26- 30 10 May 2010 16fPET2010 (c) 2010 Russell Korte
    • 17. Elaborating the social context. Well, one thing that was very interesting at the time, and I wasn’t really expecting was there was a whole big thing about the ownership of... There’s, how it works in our department, there’s development engineers and analysis engineers. Analysis engineers is what I am, deal with all the work simulating airflow on the computer. Development engineers work with us, they’re the ones who actually are in the wind tunnel testing. They’re the ones who actually work with the designers in the process, And so the development engineers and the analysis engineers work together and the development engineers like own the results. But they’re the ones who go to those meetings, those weekly meetings about everything that’s going on in the development process. We pretty much sit back at our desks and work on the computers. And so for the front-end airflow analysis, as software and computers have gotten better and our techniques and things have improved, we’re pretty much now to the point where there’s no need to actually test in the wind tunnel the front-end airflow. They still do somewhat, but it’s becoming more and more the case where the development engineers don’t actually touch that. (continued)10 May 2010 17fPET2010 (c) 2010 Russell Korte
    • 18. Elaborating the social context. And so we kind of, we’re talking a couple analysis engineers and saying -- well why are the development engineers still in the loop with this? And why couldn’t we be going to those meetings and talking with the designers and be presenting our results directly instead of going through the development designers? I thought it was really funny at the time because it was like -- I know mutiny isn’t the word, but like all the analysis engineers were like... It started with one guy had the idea and a couple other analysis engineers said -- that makes a lot of sense, we should bring that up at a meeting with our boss and the development engineers. And, well, it was like soft, treading lightly. And so like all the analysis engineers were talking. They were bringing -- the group of a couple people were bringing it up with other analysis engineers one at a time and getting their opinion on whether or not this was a good idea before bringing it up with everybody else. And so I just thought it was interesting the way, like they were talking to people one at a time, being sure not to spread the word that we were talking about all this. Because we weren’t sure how the development engineers would feel about it. 06-004:184 10 May 2010 18fPET2010 (c) 2010 Russell Korte
    • 19. Finding one’s way in the organization. And so I call him up and ask him what I think I need to know. And it turns out, you know, I don’t really know what I’m talking about so, and so I feel like the one main guy who I have been working with, he’s been very helpful in straightening things out and I’d ask him a question and he’d be, he’d kind of pause and -- well, okay, I’m a little confused. Is this what you mean or what exactly are you referring to? And so...Where I think I’ve gotten my questions all figured out and I know what I’m looking for, and then when I call him, I find out that no, I don’t really know exactly what I’m talking about and I don’t really know for sure what I’m looking for. But he’s been very helpful and -- well, this is probably what you mean. Is that what you mean? I’m like -- yeah, I think so. I don’t like advertising that I’m new, because it’s just -- I’d rather just be a coworker, you know, a regular guy. And so I don’t advertise that but I feel like people have been helpful in figuring things out in getting me up to speed quicker. 06-004:226 10 May 2010 19fPET2010 (c) 2010 Russell Korte
    • 20. Assigning utility to knowledge. Because anyone you talk to pretty much, five percent of what you learn in college, you really use in the real world unless you’re in a research department. That’s when you’re still applying the theory and analysis. But if you’re in other departments, you’re learning new things, new processes, new programs, you know, using that. And I just feel college is more the stepping stone of learning how to learn, learning where to find what you need to learn, and learning how to deal with stress and what you learned wasn’t so important, because now if you need to know something, you have an idea of where to go, what to do, and you can learn it then. That’s why I feel, I know a lot of people get kind of panicked because they’re like -- I don’t know how to do this. I’ve got to know these 10,000 formulas out of this book because we’re going to need to know it in the next class and you have to use it at work. And I’m like -- those like triple integration, really deep problem, like you’re never going to see it at work. 06-003n 10 May 2010 20fPET2010 (c) 2010 Russell Korte
    • 21. Formulating a professional identity. Just, I could feel…I don’t know. I don’t want to tell people what to do and when to get it done. If I have the opportunity to be a project manager, like if I have the opportunity right now, probably as a project manager I have to submit deadlines. I say, Well this has to get done by this time or this time. So I can get done things on my own time. But at that time, I couldn’t do that; I was not a project manager. So if I am a project manager right now - which I’m not, because my supervisor, she assigns me projects or things. But in the future, if I am a project manager, then I will plan and tell people, This is when I need to get it done. 05-014n: 242 10 May 2010 21fPET2010 (c) 2010 Russell Korte
    • 22. Agenda • Overview • Narrative analysis • Stories of engineering • Conclusions 10 May 2010 22fPET2010 (c) 2010 Russell Korte
    • 23. Human experience • The interactions between internal socio-cognitive schema and sensory perceptions. • How does one impose order on the flow of experience and thus make sense of events and actions in life? • The composition and stance of the narrator not only tells stories, but also constructs identities. Polkinghorne (1988) 10 May 2010 23fPET2010 (c) 2010 Russell Korte
    • 24. Narrative analysis • How is the story put together? • What cultural and personal elements are included? • What cultural and personal elements are excluded? • Why was it put together that way? Riessman (1993) 10 May 2010 24fPET2010 (c) 2010 Russell Korte
    • 25. Narrative resources • We are never the sole authors of our narratives (intertextuality) – Early experiences – Cognitive schema – Socio-cultural structure (habitus) • Becoming an engineer can be viewed through narrative development (emplotment of experiences). 10 May 2010 25fPET2010 (c) 2010 Russell Korte
    • 26. Selected References • Abell, P. (2004). Narrative explanation: An alternative to variable-centered explanation? Annual Review of Sociology, 30. 287-310. • Bruner, J. (2002). Making stories: Law, literature, life. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. • de Fina, A, Schiffrin, D., & Bamberg, M. (2006). Introduction. In A. de Fina, D. Schiffrin, & M. Bamberg (Eds.), Discourse and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. • Franzosi, R. (1998). Narrative analysis: Or why (and how) sociologists should be interested in narrative. Annual Review of Sociology, 24, 517-554. • Ochs, E. & Capps, L. (1996). Narrating the self. Annual Review of Anthropology, 25, 19-43. • Polkinghorne, D. E. (1988). Narrative knowing and the human sciences. New York: State University of New York Press. • Riessman, C. K. (1993). Narrative analysis. Qualitative Research Methods 30. Newbury Park, CA: Sage. • Watson, C. (2006). Narratives in practice and the construction of identity in teaching. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 12(5), 509-526. 10 May 2010 26fPET2010 (c) 2010 Russell Korte

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