Rediscovering TECHNOLOGY
POSTED BY: | COMMENTS: Leave a Comment | DATE: October 4, 2015

TECHNOLOGY – What is it about?

  • The application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry [Oxford Dictionary]
  • The application of scientific knowledge to the practical aims of human life or, as it is sometimes phrased, to the change and manipulation of the human environment [Encyclopaedia Britannica]
  • A manner of accomplishing a task especially using technical processes, methods, or knowledge [Merriam Webster]
  • The specific methods, materials, and devices used to solve practical problems; the sum of the ways in which social groups provide themselves with the material objects of their civilization [The free dictionary by Farlex]
  • The discipline dealing with the art or science of applying scientific knowledge to practical problems [Thesaurus]

 

My first “confrontation” with the TECHNOLOGY, as well as its physical reality and that mental representation, took place many years ago… in the city of Resita. I was a freshman at the Politehnica University of Timisoara and performed there my first practice in the industrial environment. I discovered in Resita, then and there, real TECHNOLOGY:

  • specific metallurgical and manufacturing technology, supported by heat, mechanical energy and human physical effort;
  • energy intensive, heavily polluting technology, with very large plant and equipment gauges, dispersed over extended land areas;
  • large-scale integrated technology at the level of raw materials, fuels, refractory materials, water, electricity and thermal energy, labor and infrastructure;
  • competitive technology, providing a wide range of products, among which: cast, forged and rolled metallic products, refractory materials, locomotives and electrical machines.

I admit that during my internship and long after that, including visits and subsequent collaborations, I built a positive image surrounding Resita, even if that image was sometimes naive and superficial, about I saw and experienced. Resita appeared to me as an interesting and important city – factories, surrounded by a natural environment with a great touristic potential.

It has been many years from my first “confrontation” with the TECHNOLOGY, as described above. As time has passed, the physical realities and mental representations that have been associated with technology have been substantially modified. I have lived through many spectacular changes within the scope of materials (from ceramic and metals to polymers and composites), phenomenology (from mechanical interactions to electro-physical and electrochemical processes), accuracy level (from macro- to micro- and nanotechnologies) and manufacturing management (from a rigid individual, batch and mass production to a flexible one) and, especially during the last years, automation and information technology. Gradually, life has imposed several rules for survival of the human society and for the technologies applied at an industrial level. In the clash between old and new, sustainable growth has imposed new approaches and performance criteria of scientific research and technological innovation. It obviously has evolved very much, as well as the thoughts and actions of all the involved people – researchers, creators and beneficiaries of available technologies at a given time. And personally, there have been many differences between my initial picture of this phenomenal Resita and my current vision.

In the meantime, I have become a professor at the Politehnica University of Timisoara and I carried out this professional activity in the subject of MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGY. I knew from the start, that to become efficient and competitive as a professor, I needed to acquire a clear, deep and correct understanding of the TECHNOLOGY that art and/or science applies to, as well as being able to control human interactions with the environment. For this, we have done a complex and difficult iterative process; knowledge, rediscovery and permanent improvement of existing classical and emerging technologies. This process has facilitated my continuous adaptation of the content and methodology of teaching technological disciplines within the current situation, new requirements and prospects of development of the technological and social-economic world.

I have become much more than what I was in the beginning – a mere witness – now a complete participant, implementing and improving new ways to tackle common technological disciplines. The fundamental objective of my approach was, and is, to provide rational and complete answers to the most basic questions concerning TECHNOLOGY:

WHAT IS IT, HOW CAN IT BE CONTROLLED AND HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

To get effective real-time answers to these and other similar questions, I systematically studied the evolution of technological disciplines while teaching in Romania’s and other countries’ technical universities. By this way, I could identify some distinct and pertinent educational approaches, applied over the years in our university, as shown below:

  • descriptive approach [C. Bakonyi and A. Nanu] – has occurred and it was claimed during the period of extensive development of the technology. Has the purpose of identification, classification and factual, detailed presentation of all existing technologies, treated as independent entities.
  • phenomenological approach [A. Nanu and a collegian team] – has occurred once with the beginning of intensive development of the technology. It took some elements of the descriptive approach, but in the same time introduced a phenomenological viewpoint in the presentation and analysis of existing technologies. It is a new representation of the main technological methods, in which succeed theoretical and phenomenological bases, processing equipment, industrial applications and indicators of technical and economic efficiency. Existing laws of causality of technological transformations are highlighted.
  • systems approach [A. Nichici] – it is a logical approach, derived from Systems theory, which prioritizes the importance of connections and interactions between tangible and intangible elements participating in the technological action. The approach is based on an INPUT – OUTPUT model, taken from the field of automation and adjusted to the conditions of industrial manufacturing. Inputs (resources) are substances, energy and information and outputs (objectives) are products and services, all in the presence of human and natural ambient environment.
  • information based approach [A. Nichici] – it is a rather intuitive approach, which has its origins and underlying support in the negative entropy principle [L. Brillouin] valid for microscopic thermodynamic systems. Arbitrary “extrapolation” of this principle at macroscopic level, is justified by the capacity of technological information to reduce and eliminate uncertainties related to the chemical composition, structure, shape, dimensions, properties and the quality indicators of the manufactured products. In information based approach, technology is treated as a process of information incorporation in substantial structures.

I believe that the listed approaches, taken individually, are unable to plenary characterize the functional, structural and operational complexity of existing technologies. Synergic integration of these approaches as the basis of future optimizing actions, though potentially possible, seems to be inefficient and extremely arduous. The difficulty is derived from complexity, diversity, dynamism and the changing nature of the environment in which they operate TECHNOLOGY.

That is why, if you would ask somebody now, what is the TECHNOLOGY, I would answer: ideally, technology is everything that defines us as human beings in interaction and harmony with everything around us, as well as the natural and artificial environment. But is it really so? Yes! That’s the truth!

Back to The Resita Experiment

Leave a Comment