Actor Network Theory of Systems and Information Engineering Technical Projects and How Universities Act as Centers of Research to Society

Rogers, Adam, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Earle, Joshua, Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

Politics of the students and client relationship for the technical project were unique in the sense that the project was organized as a business venture but the students carrying out the work did not reap the benefits of success or shoulder the costs of failure. The STS paper lays out all of the identifiable human and non-human actors of the system in an effort to understand who gets the “short end of the stick” in the particular arrangement and what sort of social dimensions form between the University of Virginia and the client. Social dimensions were vastly similar to that of traditional workplaces where there is a relationship between employees and management, between employees and their jobs/company, and between employees and other employees. Interviews were conducted on all human actors (capstone students, capstone advisor, Systems and Information Engineerning Department Chair, and client) via critical ethnography. This goes beyond conventional ethnography as it takes answers from interviewees and examines power, inequality, and injustices. Interviews presented that there was overwhelming support from all parties involved in the actor network theory, everyone shared a common goal despite the potential (or lack thereof) for rewards. There was clear discussion on employee performance with organizational goals which likely empowered members of the technical project to complete tasks but this still raised the discussions of social desirability bias, power structures at play in the university environment, and how the surrounding community can utilize a university for their
human intelligence and technological resources.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Issued Date: