1 From Technological Innovation to “Situated” Innovation: Improving the Adaptation of Engineering Training to the Societal Challenges of the 21st Century

Since its appearance in Renaissance Europe as a social figure both recognized and promoted [LEM 03], the engineer has been seen as “someone who develops new techniques, signs of progress for society”. At the time, the engineer was embodied by figures such as Leonard da Vinci, a figure situated in the imaginary as standing halfway between a creative genius and a sage. With the evolution of the profession, linked to advances in different technical domains and the implementation of standardized training, the image of the engineer has since evolved to embody a role, which is more technical and skilled than artistic. The engineer maintained a key social role throughout the modern period and up until the 19th Century: creating something new and thus producing progress. According to the dominant ideology of the time, the work of the engineer involves improving the living conditions of the population. Thus, there is the idea of a direct connection between technical innovations and social well-being, as well as a role, and even a moral position or duty of the engineer toward society, which is transmitted to them as part of their education.

From the second half of the 19th Century, the decline of the ideology of Progress has led to increased questioning of the existence of this link between innovation and social well-being, a link ...

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