fPET 2014

2014 Forum on Philosophy, Engineering and Technology

27-29 May 2014 Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Virginia

The mission of the forum is to foster scholarship and reflection, by scholars and practitioners from diverse fields, including engineers, philosophers, and social scientists, on the topics of engineers, engineering, and technology.
Cooperating Organizations Related Event
IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (www.ieeessit.org) IEEE Ethics - 2014

International Network for Engineering Studies (www.inesweb.org)

23-24 May 2014 Chicago, Illinois
Society for Philosophy and Technology (www.spt.org)  

Support from Virginia Tech provided by the following units
The Department of Philosophy | The Graduate Program in Science and Technology Studies
The Institute for Critical Technologies and Applied Sciences | The Research Division

Office of the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences

  • Call for Papers
  • Conference Organizers
  • Program
  • Speakers
  • Registration
  • Lodging
  • Travel
  • Previous Meetings


**EXTENDED DEADLINE** Abstracts due: February 10, 2014 | Notification of acceptance: March 1, 2014
500-700 word abstracts are being accepted for any of the following four topical tracks: Call for Papers PDF
  • Philosophy of engineering and technology
  • Engineering ethics
  • Reflections of practioners
  • Engineering studies/interdisciplinary topics on engineering
Submit Abstract
Abstracts may be submitted at: https://ssl.linklings.net/conferences/fpet/
Conference co-chairs: Local arrangements:
Diane Michelfelder (Macalester College) Joe Pitt (Virginia Tech)
Byron Newberry (Baylor University)  

fPET Steering Committee:  
Richard Evans (Cornell University) Carl Mitcham (Colorado School of Mines)
Kenneth R. Foster (University of Pennsylvania) Mike Murphy (Dublin Institute of Technology)
David E. Goldberg (ThreeJoy Associates, Inc.) Byron Newberry (Baylor University)
Domenico Grasso (University of Delaware) Joe Pitt (Virginia Tech)
Rachelle Hollander (U.S. National Academy of Engineering) Ibo van de Poel (TU Delft)
Natasha McCarthy (University College London) Jon A. Schmidt (Burns & McDonnell)
Diane Michelfelder (Macalester College) Cherrice Traver (Union College)

fPET Program Committee:  
Stephen Armstrong (AMGI Partners) Peter Kroes (TU Delft)
Sarah Bell (University College London) William Lawson (Texas Tech University)
Larry Bucciarelli (MIT) Michael Loui (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)
Philip Chmielewski (Loyola Marymount University) Natasha McCarthy (University College London)
Steen Hyldgaard Christensen (Aarhus University) Martin Meganck (KU Leuven)
Michael Davis (Illinois Institute of Technology) Lydia Patton (Virgina Tech)
Christelle Didier (Université Charles de Gaulle - Lille 3) Hans Poser (TU Berlin)
Neelke Doorn (TU Delft) Viola Schiaffonati (Politecnico di Milano)
Darryl Farber (Penn State University) John Sullins (Sonoma State University)
Steve Goldman (Lehigh University) Herman Tavani (Rivier College)
Joe Herkert (Arizona State University) Pieter Vermaas (TU Delft)
Don Howard (University of Notre Dame) WANG Nan (University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences)
Deborah Johnson (University of Virginia) WANG Qian (Dalian University of Technology)
Billy Vaughn Koen (University of Texas at Austin) ZHU Qin (Purdue University)
Russell Korte (Colorado State University)  

A PDF schedule including times and locations of all presentations can be download here: fPET-2014 Program

An online schedule that allows viewing of all abstracts can be found here: SCHEDULE AND ABSTRACTS

(For details of individual talks in each Paper Session, download the PDF program)

Tuesday, 27 May

4:00 – 6:45 PM

Conference Registration (Latham Ballroom Foyer)

7:00 PM

Opening Plenary--Keynote Address (Alumni Center Assembly Hall)
A Practical, Comprehensive Decomposition of the Forces, Foci, and Processes
for Engineering Education Transformation
David E. Goldberg, ThreeJoy Associates and Big Beacon

8:30 PM Reception (Latham Ballroom A)
Wednesday, 28 May
7:00 – 8:45 AM Conference Registration (Latham Ballroom Foyer)
8:15 – 9:30 AM

Paper Sessions I

  • Philosophical Perspectives from Engineers (Cascade A)
  • Public vs. Expert Understandings in Engineering (Cascade B)
  • Ethical Issues With Specific Technologies – I (Draper’s Meadow)
9:30 – 10:00 AM Mid-morning Break (Upper Quad)
10:00 – 11:40 AM

Paper Sessions II

  • Epistemological Issues in Engineering (Cascade A)
  • Governance of Sociotechnical Systems (Cascade B)
  • Issues in Engineering Education (Draper’s Meadow)
11:40 AM -- 12:00 PM Break
12:00 – 1:30 PM   Lunch and Keynote Address (Latham Ballroom A)
Engineering Ethics: Reflections on an Intellectual Journey
Christelle Didier, Université de Lille III
1:30 – 2:45 PM

Paper Sessions III

  • Sociological Issues in Engineering (Cascade A)
  • Technological Risk (Cascade B)
  • Issues in the Philosophy of Technology (Draper’s  Meadow)
2:45 – 3:15 PM Mid-afternoon Break (Upper Quad)
3:15 – 4:30

Paper Sessions IV

  • Affective States in Engineering Ethics (Cascade A)
  • Philosophical Issues in Engineering Design (Cascade B)
  • Ethical Issues With Specific Technologies – II (Draper’s Meadow)
4:30 – 6:00 PM Break
6:00 – 8:00 PM

Conference Dinner & Keynote Address (Latham Ballroom A)
Is Technology a Science? Recent Developments in German
Philosophy of Technology and Engineering
Klaus Kornwachs, Brandenburg University of Technology – Cottbus

Thursday, 29 May
8:15 – 9:15 AM

Panel Session: Philosophy of Engineering and Management (Latham A&B)

  • Thomas Kowall, Professor Emeritus, Ecole des Ponts, Paris Tech
  • Stephen C. Armstrong, Professor of Innovation, University of Toronto
  • Zach Pirtle, George Washington University
  • Steen Hyldgaard Christensen, Aarhus University
9:15 – 9:45 AM Break
9:45 – 11:30 AM

Paper Sessions V

  • Social Responsibilities of Engineers (Cascade B)
  • Engineering Innovation and the Engineering Method in Historical Context (Draper’s  Meadow)
11:30 AM – 12:00 PM

Closing Session: A Conversation with the fPET Steering Committee (Latham Ballroom A)

12:00 – 1:00 PM Box Lunch Pick-Up (Latham Ballroom Foyer)

The fPET-2014 Keynote Speakers:

David E. Goldberg

After a 34-year career as engineer, educator, and entrepreneur, Dave founded and now leads ThreeJoy Associates, Inc. (www.threejoy.com) a training, coaching, and change management firm specializing in higher education transformation; in 2012, he also co-founded and now leads Big Beacon (www.bigbeacon.org), a global movement for the transformation of engineering education. Prior to resigning his tenure in 2010 at the University of Illinois, Dave was known for his pathbreaking work in (1) genetic algorithms & complex adaptive systems, (2) co-founding the Workshop on Philosophy and Engineering (WPE) as well as the Forum on Philosophy, Engineering & Technology (fPET), (3) engineering education transformation (ifoundry.illinois.edu), and for co-founding www.sharethis.com. In Q3 2014, Dave will publish his latest book (with Mark Somerville of Olin College}, A Whole New Engineer: A Surprising Emotional Journey.  Dave is Jerry S. Dobrovolny Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois and Distinguished Academic Partner, Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering. He now resides in Douglas, Michigan with his wife, Mary Ann, and enjoys four gloriously different seasons of walking and watching the birds and wildlife of Michigan's western coast.

Christelle Didier

Christelle Didier holds a B.Sc. in Electrochemistry Engineering, a Masters in Educational Science, and a PhD in Sociology from Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris (EHESS).  After several years working with homeless people and providing training to school leavers in order to help them develop their employment skills, she was, from 1993 to 2013 Assistant Professor at the Catholic University of Lille, France, in charge of the engineering ethics team in the Ethics Department. Since October 2013 she has been Assistant Professor in Educational Science at Charles de Gaulle Public State University of Lille and a member of the Centre Inter-universitaire de Recherche en Education de Lille (CIREL).  After 20 years of teaching mostly engineering ethics and social responsibility to engineering students, she now teaches philosophy of education and entrepreneurship skills to humanities students. She is co-author of Ethique industrielle (DeBoeck, Brussels, 1998), coeditor of Engineering Education and Practice in Context. Volumes 1 and 2 (Springer, 2014), author of Penser l'éthique des ingénieurs (PUF, Paris, 2008) and Les ingénieurs et l'éthique. Pour un regard sociologique (Hermes, 2008). She has published many articles on ethics and social responsibility in the engineering profession and in education, and on the engineering profession's values and culture. Her main research areas are engineering ethics and values, from historical, cultural and gender perspectives. Her latest role at Charles de Gaulle University will enable her to develop her research on professional ethics and values in other professions, such as social work and teaching, and to continue her research on the education of engineers, focusing on vocation, social utility, and the meaning of work.

Klaus Kornwachs
Klaus Kornwachs studied mathematics, physics, and philosophy at the universities of Tübingen, Freiburg and Kaiserslautern. For many years he did research and technology assessment at the Fraunhofer Institute. More recently, he was Chair for Philosophy of Technology at Brandenburgische Technische Universität - Cottbus. Kornwachs has also taught at the University of Ulm, was a Fellow at the International Center for Cultural and Technological Research of the University of Stuttgart, and is an Honorary Professor of the Intelligent Urbanization Center, Tongji University, Shanghai. He is a member of the German National Academy of Science and Engineering. His many books and articles include, Technological Knowledge: Origins, Methods, Structures (Springer 2010), Introduction to the Philosophy of Technology (C. H. Beck 2013), and Communication and Information - To the Humane Design of Technology (Springer 1993).


Registration for fPET-2014 is now open.
Registration powered by RegOnline
Early Registration fees (Before May 1, 2014):
  • $275.00 - General Conference Registration
  • $250.00 - Rate for SPT, INES and IEEE-SSIT Members
  • $125.00 - Student Rate
Registration fees on or after May 1, 2014:
  • $300.00 - General Conference Registration
  • $125.00 - Student Rate

***Cutoff date for online reservations at conference rate has been extended to May 2***

The fPET-2014 venue is: The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center.


Inn at VT
copyright jssmith, cropped, used under CC BY-NC

The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center will provide both the lodging and conference meeting rooms under one roof.

  • To book a room online at the conference rate of $119.00 US per night (plus taxes), click here: MAKE RESERVATION
  • The cutoff date for online conference reservations is May 2, 2014. After that date, conference rate reservations are based on availability -- after May 2 call 1-877-200-3360 to inquire about reservations.


You may download a campus map, which shows the location of The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center.


The main airport serving Blackburg is the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport (ROA) in Roanoke, VA.

Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport is serviced by US Airways, Delta, and United Airlines. It has routine connections through the following major airports: Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago/O’Hare, Detroit, New York City/LaGuardia, Orlando/Sanford, Philadelphia, St. Petersburg/Clearwater and Washington/Dulles


The conference venue, The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center, is 40 miles (64 km) from the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport. To get from the airport to the conference center, the following options are available:

  • Several car rental agencies provide service from the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport
  • A commuter bus service (The Smart Way Commuter Bus) runs between the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport and the Virginia Tech Campus. The one way fare is $4 US. You may download a bus schedule. The bus drops off at the Squires Student Center on the Virginia Tech Campus. Vans will be available to shuttle people between the Squires Center and The Inn (please refer to the above map). Please email Joe Pitt at jcpitt@vt.edu to let him know your anticipated arrival time at the Squires Center.

Information about previous fPET meetings can be found at:

fPET-2012 Beijing, China

fPET-2010 Golden, Colorado, USA (along with information about previous WPE meetings)

About Virginia Tech

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 215 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of almost $500 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.