Lecture 3 - TECHNOLOGY AS A PROCESS

Technology can be viewed as a process that starts by identifying a
need or a problem and
works towards a solution:

Need - cleaner ways to generate our electricity → Possible
solutions - solar panels, wind turbines, wave farms.

Problem traffic congestion at the Kappara roundabout →
Possible solution – redesign the junction to facilitate traffic flow.

Needs can be real or largely created through marketing.
At the core of technology is the design process – this involves evaluation
of the problem, research, generation and evaluation of ideas and potential
solutions, selecting the best solution and actualising and testing the
solution.

The design process has to take into account the knowledge, skills,
materials and finance available.

the design of a car’s body has to take into account air flow. Each test needs to be documented. Analysis and evaluation of potential solutions involves breaking down an object. computer models and prototypes. driver and passenger comfort and safety as well as the driver’s field of vision. However value judgements also need to be made about how ethical or not a particular solution is: . Before the advent of computer aided design (CAD).Many designs start off as ideas and rough sketches on paper.designs are easily modified and tested and computer data can be fed into a mechanical production line.g. Today many items are largely designed by computers. system or problem. and the object is built to the specifications. Drag coefficients need to be calculated when designing a car or an aircraft. Different stages of the design process often involve scientific analysis depending on the nature of the technology: E. and tested before actually being built. Prototypes are trial versions of the final product – these will be tested. suitability for purpose and ease of manufacture. CAD allows objects to be completely designed in three dimensions. Unfortunately some technological ‘solutions’ are having long term undesired consequences: • CFC’s → ozone depletion • Synthetic insecticides → ecosystem disruption • Chemical fertilizers → eutrophication In fact the development and use of technology is very much linked with our values – the above effects were unforeseeable when the technology was introduced but this is no longer the case.g. aesthetic & economic judgements. Value decisions have to be made throughout the design process e. modified and improved – many prototypes may be needed before a particular product or process is good enough to be commercialised – for example prototype cars may need to be tested for safety. into parts to understand their relationships to each other and to other external elements. For example. This involves mathematical equations. Individual components will require testing and evaluation. Nowadays a lot of analysis is done by computer . Designs then need to be realised – this may involve three dimensional models. durability under different conditions etc. cars and houses were completely designed by hand on paper – change was tedious and expensive.

Only a few of the potential technologies available at any time are fully developed and widely implemented. liberalised markets are the aesthetics of a product. Technological developments are not always a direct consequence of scientific progress – they are very much determined by society (consumer choice and marketing). Which is given most importance is often a commercial decision depending on the market sector targeted. performance. efficiency. costs and aesthetics. Further reading Systems of Knowledge – A multidisciplinary approach Module 3 – essay 5 What is Technology? (pages 141 -143) .• Is it right to design software that facilitates downloading of copyrighted material? • Is it right to offer technological solutions that deprive people of work in less developed countries? Very important in today’s highly competitive. The final design is often a compromise between functionality.