Interview: Visiting Scholar Lina Wei

Photo of Lina Wei

Our visiting scholar, Lina Wei, is a Ph.D. Candidate in Philosophy of Science and Technology at Zhejiang University in China. Her interests center on engineering ethics, especially the professional competence of engineers. She has been involved in the State's key social science research projects “Study on Ethical Morphology of Engineering Practice in China.” She is one of translators of the Chinese version of ENGINEERING ETHICS: Concepts and Cases (Fifth Edition). She looks forward to working with Professor Davis, Professor Hildt, and Kelly Laas in the area of applied and professional ethics.

We sat down with Lina to learn more about her research interests.

What inspired you to become a PhD student?

“I was influenced by my husband. He just got his PhD two years ago and his major is engineering education. During his PhD period I often read literature about engineering education, including the teaching of engineering ethics.”  

“I think engineering ethics is increasingly important and I think it is very interesting. Nowadays China is implementing many major strategies especially the innovation-driven development strategy, Made in China 2025, and the Belt and Road initiative. So engineering construction is developing very fast. With many remarkable achievements there are also a great number of challenges, such as the quality of engineering, the safety of engineering, and environmental pollution. The country and universities are paying much more attention to engineering ethics.”

She is also inspired by her son, “I’m a mother, and my son is just 3 years old and I think that by doing this I can set a good example for my son.”

What is your research focus?

“I read some cases on engineering ethics and my mentor told me to look into the professional competence of engineering. There are not many studies on Chinese engineers and engineers play the core role in the engineering community. So, the competence of them will directly relate back to the realization of China’s engineering goals. We don’t know the status or characteristics of Chinese engineers. The first thing we want to know is the present status of Chinese engineers and where we can go in the future.”

“Presently, my mentor and I are focusing on the competence of engineers. We don’t define exactly the definition of competence but we look at the relationships between engineers and the thing and how to adjust relationships between people to people.”

Why IIT?

“There are many reasons. It may be destiny. Firstly, Michael Davis has great influence on both the theoretical and empirical engineering. Secondly, my mentor in China, Hang Qing Cong, translated Davis’ book Thinking Like an Engineer into Chinese many years ago and this book has a great influence on engineering ethics in China. When I read this book it helped me a lot and I had many questions, and I wanted to ask Michael Davis personally and learn more from him.”

“I also had a conference with Heng Li Zhang who studied here from 2015 to 2016. I presented on what I want to research and he suggested that I study here. The ethics center here also has many valuable resources for me.”

“And I like IIT more and more every day.”

What are the most challenging things you face within your research?

“There are two great challenges, the first is the foundation of my research and clarifying the concept. It’s basic but it’s very important. I should deeply understand the concept and then I can build from there and test it. The second challenge will be doing the empirical research. I have to design the questionnaire and I want it to be proper and effective. Last semester I just focused on the questionnaire and translating it into English. After the translation, I found that the questionnaire has some language problems and I am still working on the correct translation. And I hope Michael Davis will help me clarify my questionnaire.”

Thank you Lina for taking the time to chat with us and we look forward to the next year with you!

Interview conducted by Monika Sziron and Kelly Laas.