Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Thomas Zeiler

Second Advisor

Marcia Yonemoto

Third Advisor

Ken Osgood

Fourth Advisor

Paul Sutter

Fifth Advisor

David Brown


This project explores how American engineers born at the end of the 1800s were conditioned to hold important places in American Cold War policymaking. Growing up during an unprecedented era of visible technological achievement, young American men turned to engineering as a way to professionally satisfy their tinkering and problem-solving inclinations. After contributing much to the Allied effort in World War Two, these individuals stood on the front lines of a Cold War U.S. foreign policy that sought to compete with the Soviet Union via technology on a number of levels. From Third World development to American defense initiatives, engineers deployed their mentalities to extend American power's reach around the world in an effort to keep it oriented away from the USSR. Using both state records and personal papers of American engineers of the era, this project shows that the experience of engineering in the early Cold War became tightly wedded to the federal government. In the end, the Cold War brought engineers closer to American state administration, a relationship best described through the engineering concept of the positive feedback loop; as the government employed engineers on an increasingly frequent basis to further American policy ends, the status of engineers in society grew in concert, cementing a permanent and mutually beneficial relationship that endures to this day.