Cultivating the Assimilative Perspective in Contextual Engineering – Knowing What You Don’t Know
Contextual Engineering methodology affords engineering practitioners a more robust process for identifying socioeconomic and cultural conditions within a client community that could affect adoption and sustainability of a technical infrastructure. This methodology seeks to build an assimilative view of the client through direct interactions, which enable the practitioner to assess critical local conditions without filtering her understanding through the lens of her own experience. Many practitioners assert that direct interaction with a client community is unnecessary to achieve an assimilative view, particularly in an era when information is widely available via the internet, and communication with remote partners is possible using a variety of technologies. But assessments of the perceptions of engineering practitioners engaged in two separate projects in Latin America before and after travel to the client communities demonstrate that their understanding of community conditions were altered dramatically once they interacted with residents and experienced site conditions firsthand.
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