To honor the centenary of Pierre Bézier, the eminent French engineering designer (40 years at Renault after starting at a small design company), the University of Evry and its partners are convening a conference next September in Paris focused on post-1930 developments in areas to which Bézier made major contributions : machinery and industrial automation, controls and computation (Bézier curves), the creation of computer visualization for design, and the diffusion of mechanical/technical knowledge. (Bézier worked extensively with machine tools before moving on to computer innovations, virtual imagery, and technical education.)
Key questions the organizers invite papers to address include:
- What significant innovations in machine tool design/capability/control were adopted in the industrial West, Japan, the Soviet Union and developing nations’ industries across the half century after 1930? How was such innovation organized and undertaken by engineers, designers, computer specialists, foremen, skilled workers, managers, users, etc.? What political, enterprise, or competitive strategies impelled such advances ?
- What new sources and methodologies can be used to link standard visual and written discourses about machine tools and computers to artifacts and practices in use ?
- What discourses emerged about automation and digital processing, enthusiastic and critical, and how did they affect channels of communication and/or patterns of technical imitation and appropriation internationally ?
- How did ideas and ideologies about modernity and modernization and about machine tools’ iconic status evolve across these decades ? What impact did such perspectives have on the industrialization process : policy, investment, organization, and competition in manufacturing ?
- Through what means and with what efficacy were the new knowledge and practices these innovations generated shared among firms, industries and nations? What consequences arose from differences in diffusion?
- To what extent did computer-based innovations create problems even while solving other difficulties? How did enterprises and shop floor personnel manage the complexities that resulted?
Proposals, in English or French, should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org by 1 February 2010. Each proposal should be sent in two files. One file should describe the planned paper and be titled: “Proposition PB&MO” plus, in the title, a short identifying phrase, such as “Control Innovations”. The paper proposal should not exceed 300 words. The second, accompanying file should provide information about the author(s) and be titled: “Proposition PB&MO” plus the author(s) last name(s). This biographical information should not exceed 400 words. This two-file approach will assure that the review of proposals will be blinded, like much article refereeing for journals.
An international committee of scholars will review all proposals and the conference co-chairs will contact authors to confirm the program by 1 March 2010. Among the 14 member review committee are : Patrick Fridenson (EHESS), David Edgerton (Imperial College, London), Anne-Françoise Garçon (Paris-1) ; Kazuo Wada (University of Tokyo), Philip Scranton (Rutgers), and Thomas Welskopp (Bielefeld).
Funding for presenters’ transportation and lodging will be provided. Following the two conference days, a group visit by bus to Renault’s R&D division and to one of its main plants south of Paris will be offered. Also, the weekend following the conference features a national historic heritage festival. Those attending who wish to visit classic and modern sites will find many locations open to visitors that weekend which are not available at other times. Publication of a collection of edited papers is expected.
Questions? Please contact Dr. Alain Michel: Alain.MICHEL@cite-sciences.fr or Alain.Michel@univ-evry.fr
Dr. Alain Michel, Maitre de Conferences
Histoire Economique Sociale et des Techniques
Boulevard François Mitterand
91025 Evry Cedex
France Email: email@example.com
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