Matthew Wisnioski

The Office of the Vice President for Research recognizes Matthew Wisnioski, an associate professor of Science and Technology in Society in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, for his work at the intersection of the history of science and technology, American history, engineering studies, and design.

In his 2012 book, “Engineers for Change: Competing Visions of Technology in 1960s America,” Wisnioski examined how an eclectic group of engineers in the 1960s partnered with antiwar and civil rights activists to agitate for change. It was a period when engineers fought to remake their profession, challenging their fellow engineers to embrace a more humane vision of technology.

The book was the inaugural volume in a new MIT Press Engineering Studies series.

A 2014 -2015 fellow of the Smithsonian's Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, Wisnioski has written about György Kepes, the Hungarian-born painter, designer, teacher, and art theorist who founded the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and he has explored the collaborative intersections of engineers and artists.

He is at work on a book tracing the impact of innovation theorists on universities, corporate research centers, and federal agencies during the 1960s to the 1980s and on today’s proliferation of local, regional, and national innovation initiatives.

The project, funded by a National Science Foundation Scholar’s Award, asks and sets out to answer questions about how governments foster private research and development in a global economy, how researchers train for entrepreneurial careers, and how a focus on commercialization, entrepreneurship, and its products may potentially narrow valuable knowledge. He also asks how science, technology, engineering, and math participation could be made more diverse, and whether that diversity would result in unforeseen discoveries.

He is a cofounder of the Human Centered Design Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program. He served as a Fellow of the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology, where he acts as an "embedded humanist."

With the support of ICAT, he taught an experimental, studio-based graduate seminar on the "Origins of Innovation" that brought graduate students in Science and Technology in Society together with those from design, engineering, and science disciplines, for which he received Virginia Tech's 2014 XCaliber Award. Students from that class created the online resource Lenses of Innovation at VT.

Wisnioski earned his bachelor’s degree in materials science and engineering at Johns Hopkins University and both his master’s and Ph.D. in history from Princeton University.


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The goals of the Scholar of the Week are to recognize individuals while also telling people about research and scholarly activities at the university.

Recognition is based on research and/or scholarship.

Please nominate individuals — not teams, groups, or more than one person.

Please provide a sentence describing the research, scholarship, or creative work in non-technical, generally accessible language. A second sentence with an example or application is helpful.

  • Send nominations to: Srinath Ekkad, Associate Vice President for Research Programs, Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation.