Ph.D. Projekt: Practicing and Changing Engineering Design

  • Petersen, Rikke Premer, (Projektdeltager)
  • Jørgensen, Ulrik, (Andet)
  • Buch, Anders, (Andet)


The aim of the thesis is to contribute to a more situated and socially informed understanding of the perceived gap between engineering education and engineering occupation in light of contemporary and future challenges for the engineering profession at large.
The thesis thus takes its point of departure in a problem area found in-between and across the traditional spheres of education and occupation. These spheres represent both conceptual understandings of learning and working in our western societies, but also historically rooted infrastructures that hold our institutions in place.
Based on an ethnographically informed study of engineering design within both spheres, the thesis takes a situated and practice theoretical perspective to open up these understandings and infrastructures in order to find out how we might understand the seemingly persistent difficulties of resonating professional engineering design practices in our academically informed educational system.
It is an on-going debate what ‘real engineering work’ actually implies and how engineering educations might best ensure highly qualified graduates that are able to manoeuvre in the occupational sphere. With the practice perspective it is possible to see processes of knowing and learning in a different light than the typical scholastic paradigm that still dominates engineering educations. Knowing moves from a property of the brain to an embodied and social interaction and at the same time learning becomes co-produced through participation in social settings. This processual view thus starts to break down the imagined gap between education and occupation, offering an alternative way of understanding the trajectories that lead through bundles of learning practices in engineering education and on to bundles of substantive practices in engineering occupation.
By framing engineering design practices as essentially epistemic practices (wrought with contingencies, ambiguities, and on-going dynamics) the thesis uses thick descriptions of the empirical material to provide a view of engineering project work that is sensitive to the heterogeneity and sociality that lies beyond topics usually discussed by engineering educators and employers (such as specialised and codified knowledge and core competences).
Then, shifting attention to the ideas of change and new developments in engineering design practice, the thesis offers an analysis of the infrastructures that uphold and stabilize education and occupation alike. The empirical material illustrates how changing existing practices requires more than initiative and local doings because the overarching infrastructures are tough and reaches across many practices.
With this change of perspective it is then possible to return to the debate on challenges for the engineering profession from a different light and start asking where we might create new spaces for action in future engineering design education.
Kort titelPracticing and Changing Engineering Design
Effektiv start/slut dato15/10/201114/11/2014


  • Design praksis
  • Ingeniør uddannelse
  • Professionel praksis
  • Kompetencer