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In the field of economic history, the causes and consequences of the Industrial Revolution loom large. Competing theories point to the role of institutions, scientific achievements, and bourgeois ideas. Setting aside the origins of industrialization, another open question concerns the mechanisms by which modern economic growth emerged. To delve into that question, I’ve brought on W. Walker Hanlon, whose work suggests the engineering profession played a key role.
Walker is an associate professor in the department of economics at Northwestern University. Among his thought-provoking works in economic history is a recent working paper, “The Rise of the Engineer: Inventing the Professional Inventor During the Industrial Revolution.”