BOX 8-1

DEFINITIONS OF TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, AND APPLICATIONS OF SCIENCE

Technology is any modification of the natural world made to fulfill human needs or desires [2].

Engineering is a systematic and often iterative approach to designing objects, processes, and systems to meet human needs and wants [2].

An application of science is any use of scientific knowledge for a specific purpose, whether to do more science; to design a product, process, or medical treatment; to develop a new technology; or to predict the impacts of human actions.

classroom and engaging in engineering practices. The components of this core idea include understanding how engineering problems are defined and delimited, how models can be used to develop and refine possible solutions to a design problem, and what methods can be employed to optimize a design.

The second ETS core idea calls for students to explore, as its name implies, the “Links Among Engineering, Technology, Science, and Society” (ETS2). The applications of science knowledge and practices to engineering, as well as to such areas as medicine and agriculture, have contributed to the technologies and the systems that support them that serve people today. Insights gained from scientific discovery have altered the ways in which buildings, bridges, and cities are constructed; changed the operations of factories; led to new methods of generating and distributing energy; and created new modes of travel and communication.

Scientific insights have informed methods of food production, waste disposal, and the diagnosis and treatment of disease. In other words, science-based, or science-improved, designs of technologies and systems affect the ways in which people interact with each other and with the environment, and thus these designs deeply influence society.

In turn, society influences science and engineering. Societal decisions, which may be shaped by a variety of economic, political, and cultural factors, establish goals and priorities for technologies’ improvement or replacement. Such decisions also set limits—in controlling the extraction of raw materials, for example, or in setting allowable emissions of pollution from mining, farming, and industry. Goals, priorities, and limits are needed for regulating new technologies, which can



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement