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Engineers Under Fire: Socially Responsible Engineering at the University of El Salvador

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Abstract

Historians and philosophers of science and technology have devoted considerable attention to the emergence and growth of the engineering professions in the United States. The tight integration of these engineers into the military and corporate structure of their country is recognized as a major theme in modern American social history. Far less is known about engineers in the developing world and their impact on the changing values and internal tensions of their own cultures. Recent developments at the University of El Salvador (UES) represent an important case in which engineers have taken a controversial leading role in the attempt to improve the living conditions endured by the poorest members of their society, both through direct assistance and through collaboration in commun­ ity education and organizations. In this paper, we outline the general orientation of the UES School of Engineering and Architecture, a School that has set as its goal the education of engineers dedicated to a humane and sensitive response to the needs of the majority of Salvadorans. We describe efforts to real­ ize this goal both through specific projects and more general reform, including curriculum. In order to make clear the context of the School's work, we begin with a brief description of social, economic and political conditions in El Salvador, where civil war has raged since 1980. We describe some of UES's proposed solu­tions to the crisis and some of the violent actions against the University committed by the government including the brutally destructive invasion of the campus by the army in 1980.[
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Hacia una Facultad acorde a las Necesidades de su Pueblo
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