Politics integrated in engineering

As science and technology continue to develop and take on a greater roles in modern society, politics and political issues are increasingly integrated into those fields.

“One-third of electrical engineers in the U.S. work for the U.S. government, either directly or indirectly. Regulatory policies affect how we do research, how our research is used and how society copes with the unintended consequences of technological advances,” said Public Policy Associate Professor Richard Barke.

The relationship between politics and the engineering field can sometimes be overlooked by students.

“I was very involved with a political group in high school.  I would love to be involved with one here at Tech, especially at this time since it’s election season and everything is so exciting, but it’s a little disheartening to go to a meeting and see so few people there,” said Claire Smith, first-year BCHEM major.

Technology and science work with politics in unique ways at Tech.

“State and national politicians and policy-makers provide more than $100 billion a year for research and development.  Tech gets about $400 million in federal research grants. Much of what goes on in science and technology is political…it involves collective decisions that are made by people with different [policy] perspectives,” Barke said.

Though politics may not be visible in many science and technology studies, it still plays a part in these fields.

“We tend to look at only what we do here, but [science and technology] are part of a large system of government, companies, and social institutions,” Barke said.