Respect the techs

July 31, 2008

I wholeheartedly agree with Sally Feldman that "technicians" in academe should not be belittled and treated as "children" who should "know their place" (Opinion, 17 July). Rather, they should be valued as the education and research enablers that they are. Without them there would neither be teaching nor research in subject areas such as media and computing.

I disagree with Feldman's solution, however. Simply abolishing the word "technician" will not address the root of the problem, as attitudes and perceptions need to change.

Historically, respect and high esteem were afforded to the technicians who developed technologies such as those in nuclear energy and space flight. While I would be proud to be called a technician if working for Cern, Nasa, the European Space Agency or in the aerospace company (BAE Systems) where I once worked as a computing professional, in academe as a computing lecturer the term technician has been used as a put-down by non-computing colleagues. Such is the misunderstanding of the potential scope of the technician's skills and knowledge across the socio-technical spectrum of concerns that, in my own case, form the basis of the computing teaching and research interests that I pursue, and that are potentially beneficial to computing and non-computing colleagues alike.

Robert Manderson, Senior lecturer, Roehampton University.

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