Bruce Seely

Bruce Seely


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  • Dean, College of Science and Arts
  • Professor of History and STS
  • Ph.D., University of Delaware
  • M.A., University of Delaware
  • B.A., St. Lawrence University


Bruce E. Seely is a historian of technology who joined Michigan Tech as an assistant professor in the fall 1986 after teaching at Texas A&M University for five years. He has taught courses in history of technology, as well in American history, Western Civilization, history of science, and science and technology studies. Recently he has helped develop Michigan Tech’s undergraduate minor and graduate certificate in nanoscale science and engineering, developing a course in the societal implications of nanotechnology. His research topics are eclectic, and include the history of engineering and engineering education; transportation history and policy, including highways and railroads with a focus on engineers and policy decisions; the history of the iron and steel industry during the 19th and 20th centuries; and technology transfer and diffusion. He has authored two books, a dozen books chapters, more than 40 articles; and numerous contributions to historical encyclopedias; edited an encyclopedia volume, and presented almost 100 conference and colloquia papers.

Bruce served as Michigan Tech’s University Senate President (1997-2000) and as Social Sciences Department Chair (2002-2008). He has held a number of positions in professional organizations, including Secretary of the Society for the History of Technology (1990-1995), Program Director for Science and Technology Studies at the National Science Foundation, (2000-2002); and member and co-chair of the History Committee of the Transportation Research Board of the National Research Council (1999-2008). He is founding co-editor of the Journal Comparative Technology Transfer and Society, published by Johns Hopkins University Press (2003-2009).

Recent Publications

  • “Pan American Highway: Roads and Politics,” Routes-Roads (forthcoming April 2012).
  • “Der Pan American Highway – eine Straße zwischen zwei Kontinenten,” Zeitschrift für Weltgeschichte Vol. 12.2 (November 2011): 141-73.
  • “Expertise, Politics and Highways in the U.S., 1960-2000,” Routes-Roads (April 2011) no. 350, pp. 86-91.
  • “The Pre-History of the Interstate Highway Program,” Routes-Roads (October 2010) no. 347, pp. 88-91.
  • “Editorial Introduction: NASA and Technology Transfer in Historical Perspective,” Comparative Technology Transfer and Society 6, no. 1 (April 2008): 1-16.
  • “The Secret is the System,” Wilson Quarterly 32, no. 2 (Spring 2008): 47-49, 51-58.
  • John Jaszczak and Bruce E. Seely, “Developing Nano Education at a Technological University: Science, Technology, and Societal Implications of Nanotechnology,” in Aldrin E. Sweeney & Sudipta Seal, eds., Nanoscale Science and Engineering Education: Issues, Trends and Future Directions (American Scientific Publishers, 2008), pp. 591-619.

Recent Funding

  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Advanced Research Workshop: Management of Security: Successes and Failures, 2008 ($53,000). 2008. Part of ESF/NATO effort to develop research agenda on security.
  • PI, National Science Foundation, Program in Science, Technology and Society, “SHOT 50th Anniversary Workshop, Award # 0623056, 2006 ($24,049).
  • PI, National Science Foundation, Program in Science, Technology and Society, “SGTRF: Doctoral Program in Industrial Heritage and Archeology,” Award # 0454711, 2005 ($296,396).
  • Co-PI with John Jaszczak,,, National Science Foundation, Nanoscale Science and Engineering Competition,” NUE: Undergraduate Exploration of Nano-science, Applications, and Societal Implications at Michigan Tech,” Award # 0304439, 2003 ($100,000).
  • PI, National Science Foundation, Program in History and Philosophy of Science, Technology and Society, “Participation of United States Scholars in the XIXth International Congress of the History of Science; Zaragosa, Spain; August 22-29, 1993,” Award # 9302569, 1993 ($25,000)
  • Co-PI with Keith Benson, National Science Foundation, History & Philosophy of Science, Engineering and Technology, “Critical Problems and Research Frontiers in History of Science and History of Technology to be Held Oct. 31-Nov 3, 1991 in Madison Wisconsin,” Award #9011695, 1990 ($84,000).
  • Co-PI with Terry Reynolds, National Science Foundation, Program in the History of Science, Technology, and Society and the Engineering Directorate, "A History of Engineering Education in the United States," 1990 to 1992 , Award # 8921936, 1989 ($120,000).