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Early History of T&S

During the 1960’s it was recognized that fewer and fewer high school students were electing theoretical physical sciences courses.  The National Academy of Engineering (previously the Commission on Engineering Education) initiated a project at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (PIB) to develop a high school course on engineering concepts and modern technology. The project was known as the Engineering Concepts Curriculum Project (ECCP). The Co-directors of the project were Professor John Truxal of PIB and Dr. Edward David of Bell Laboratories.  Dr. Joseph Piel was the Executive Director of the project.  The high school textbook The Man Made World was developed by the project and used in over 300 high schools in the United States. Primary funding for the project came from the National Science Foundation.

After the resignation of Professor Thomas Irvine as Dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (CEAS) at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Dr. John Truxal was selected as the new dean as of February 1972.  Over the next 2 years, Truxal brought the core working group of ECCP to Stony Brook -- in September 1973, Professor Ludwig Braun and Drs. Joseph Piel and Thomas Liao, and in September 1974, Professor Marian Visich, Jr.  Truxal believed that the education of liberal arts students was incomplete without some understanding of the impact of modern technology on the world in which they lived. Truxal’s group developed courses on technology and computer literacy.  President John Toll of Stony Brook fully supported the idea. Since there was no department that had technology literacy as its mission, the group was located in the Department of Electrical Engineering as both Truxal and Braun were professors of electrical engineering at PIB.

In 1976, President John Toll established the Department of Technology and Society (T&S) with Visich as Chairman.  When Visich resigned in 1977 to become Associate Dean of the College, Piel was appointed as Chairman.  Liao became Chair in 1986 and Dr. David Ferguson in 2002.

Major research funding for T&S was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.  In late 1975, the Foundation funded the National Coordinating Center for Curriculum Development (NCCCD) with a grant of $2.6 M. The purpose of the Center was to develop high school curriculum material to encourage minority students to enter the fields of engineering and science.  Since Truxal made a major commitment to the Foundation, he resigned as Dean.  In 1981 the Foundation awarded a grant to T&S for $4.2 M to support the New Liberal Arts Program. The goal of NLA was to assist in the introduction of quantitative reasoning and concepts of modern technology within liberal education based upon the success of the T&S program.  Truxal and Visich were Co-directors of both Sloan grants.