Jennifer Alexander

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Jennifer Alexander

Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering
Room 239
111 Church Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455


History of Science and Technology Program


Ph.D. 1996, Department of History, University of Washington 
M.A. 1990, Department of History, University of Wyoming 
B.S. 1987, Department of History, University of Wyoming

Professional Background

Director of Graduate Studies, Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine, University of Minnesota, 2017-present
Associate Professor, 
University of Minnesota, 
Mechanical Engineering, 2007 - present
Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota, Mechanical Engineering, 1999-2007

Scientific & Professional Societies

  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers
  • History of Science Society
  • Society for the History of Technology


Jennifer Alexander is a historian of technology, specializing in modern industrial culture, technology and religion, and the history of mechanical technologies. Her work pioneers the concept of technological orthodoxies: the development of creeds and doctrines that enforce conformity in how technologies are understood and used.

History of Science, Technology, and Medicine (HSTM) - 585 Shepherd Lab

Research Interests
  • Technology & modernity
  • Modern Europe
  • Technology & religion
  • History of engineering
  • History of mechanisms and mechanics
Currently Teaching Courses
HSCI 3714: Stone Tools to Steam Engines: Technology and History to 1750
HSCI 3715: History of Modern Technology: Waterwheels to the Web
CEGE 3103:Engineering Ethics and Professional Practice

Honors and Awards

  • 2010 Sidney M. Edelstein Prize 2010, Society for the History of Technology. Mantra of Efficiency 


  • The Mantra of Efficiency: From Waterwheel to Social Control (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008).

Selected Publications

  • Bloomsbury Cultural History of Technology, 6 volumes (London: Bloomsbury, expected 2024). Initiating Editor and Co-General Editor, full editorial team of 12 scholars and approximately 60 chapter authors.
  • Technology and Religion, special issue of History and Technology (September 2020), co-editor
  • “A Brief History of Engineering”, in Diane P. Michelfelder and Neelke Doorn, eds., The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Engineering (New York and London: Routledge, 2021), 25-37.
  • “An engineering career as industrial mission: Jack Keiser in post-war Britain,” History and Technology 36 (2020): 263-291. 
  • “Introduction: The entanglement of technology and religion,” History and Technology 36 (2020): 165-186.

More Publications