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A Consulting Engineering Department was organized by the General Electric Company in 1910. It was designed to complement the General Electric Research Laboratory through a focus on creative engineering rather than basic science. The Department was conceived and directed during its early years by C. P. Steinmetz. It continued under the able leadership of a Steinmetz protegé, E. F. W. Alexanderson, until its identity was finally lost during a reorgnization in 1951. The Department produced numerous innovations in communications, electronics and power engineering, including a world radio system that provided the technological basis for a new corporation, the Radio corporation of America, founded in 1919. The history of the Department and the philosophy articulated by Steinmetz and Alexanderson are considered from the perspective of recent studies of the nature of science and technology and their interaction.
Date of Publication: Sept. 1976