Students will develop an understanding of the characteristics and scope of technology.

The word “technology” encompasses many meanings and connotations. It can refer to the products and artifacts of human invention — a videocassette recorder is a technology, as are pesticides. It can denote the body of knowledge necessary to create such products. It can mean the process by which such knowledge is produced and such products are developed. Technology is sometimes used very broadly to connote an entire system of products, knowledge, people, organizations, regulations, and social structures, as in the technology of electric power or the technology of the Internet.

Through their innovations, people have modified the world around them to provide necessities and conveniences. A technologically literate person understands the significance of technology in everyday life and the way in which it shapes the world.

Throughout history, the modification of the natural world has taken on different forms. Understanding these different forms and how the human-made world differs from the natural world can lead to an understanding of human innovation. In the Stone Age, for instance, a major technology involved chipping flakes from pieces of flint to shape useful tools — a task that could be done from start to finish by one person. Today, the products of technology generally involve a much more complicated process, often requiring the efforts of many people to transform an idea or concept to its final, practical form.

Engineers are the professionals who are most closely associated with technology. Although they are the innovators and designers, many other people are involved as well — from distributors, manufacturing and construction workers to operators, managers, regulators, maintenance people and ultimately, consumers.