Peter Westin

Doan Fellow

Peter Westin is in the Ph.D. program with the School of History, Technology, and Society (HTS) at the Georgia Institute of Technology. His interdisciplinary research as a historian of technology involves 20th-century knowledge flow, innovation, and use, with a current focus on the dynamics and tensions across motor sports, manufacturing, and automobility. Before entering this program he served in the U.S. Army (Infantry and Military Intelligence) and worked in a variety of businesses. His professional academic goal is to teach history by incorporating the relevance (both past and present) of how technology innovations came to be and to be used, as well as those that did not succeed.

Westin’s decades-long personal interest in functionality and operational characteristics of automobiles and motor-sport vehicles in particular serves as the basis for his current research. His master’s paper was titled “There’s a Fly in My Wheel! The Intersection of Applied Research, Regenerative Braking, Motorsports, and the Auto Industry.” He has presented the following conference papers:

  • “Asclepius at High(er) Speed: Motorsports’ Transition from Trauma Treatment to High-Tech Medicine and Prevention”
  • “How Green Was the Flag?: The Maturation of Motorsports’ Relationship with Automobility and the Environment”
  • “Sparky, the Patriot, and Turbo-Diesels: The Relevance of “Failed” Motorsports Innovations to the History of Technology”

At CHF, Peter will conduct dissertation research on rubber for his broader examination of the tentatively titled project “Synthetics of Speed: The Trajectory of Changes in Tire Compound Formulation across Motorsports and Automobiles in the Latter Half of the 20th Century.” To many the tire is a mundane (sometimes irritating) component of their car, yet the connectedness between motor sports and automobility regarding tire capabilities has been proclaimed throughout the period of 1950 to 2010. When considering the comparatively tiny contact patch each tire has with the road, that small connection is all that supports a valuable human load; thus it is critical to more fully understand this complex history.

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