Atsushi Akera

Associate Professor & Graduate Program Director, Science and Technology Studies

Atsushi Akera is a historian of technology and an associate professor in the Department of Science and Technology Studies. In his early career, Akera focused on the history of computing, using the development of computers as a window into the American system of Cold War research and development. His first book, Calculating a Natural World: Computers, Scientists and Engineers during the Rise of U.S. Cold War Research, uses the history of computing to describe broad-based changes in the institutional infrastructure for research in the United States. 

More recently, Akera has focused on engineering education and engineering education reform.

Global changes in engineering require intensive scrutiny toward how we train engineers. “Right now, we’re educating the professional engineers for the next half century, and they will require a much broader range of skills than engineers have had in the past,” said Akera. “Are U.S. engineering schools ready for the kind of deep analysis needed to respond intelligently to the challenges ahead? It is important for our students to have a much stronger awareness the global context in which they’ll be performing their work. They also need to understand much better the challenges of problem formulation: we so often introduce our students to the basic skills of problem solving, but less often educate them to envision the potential that technology has to transform our society and economy.”

Akera is currently collaborating with Bruce Seely, Dean of the College of Sciences and Arts at Michigan Technological University in publishing a book on the history of engineering education reform in the US from 1945 to the present.

Akera currently serves as Graduate Program Director for the department and is Associate Editor for the journal Engineering Studies. He has served as the chair of the American Society of Engineering Education Liberal Education / Engineering & Society Division; a member of the Society for the History of Technology’s (SHOT) Executive Council; and as Associate Editor in Chief of the IEEE Annals of the History of Computing. At Rensselaer, he has served as the Secretary of the Faculty; as Director of the First Year Studies Program; and was the Founding Director of the Vasudha Living & Learning Community. He remains involved with various sustainability and design related programs and initiatives on campus.”



Ph.D., History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania,. 

M.A., History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania 

B.S., Science, Technology, and Society, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

B.S., Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Select Works
  • Calculating a Natural World Scientists, Engineers, and Computers During the Rise of U.S. Cold War Research Atsushi Akera