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Lehigh University logo

William A. Best

Department: Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics

Position: Professor of Practice
Co-Director, Lehigh IDEAS

Address: Packard Lab 215
19 Memorial Dr. West
Bethlehem, PA 18015
(610) 758-3551

Areas of Research

  • Engineering Ethics
  • Technology and Public Policy
  • Technology and Society


Bill Best is professor of practice in electrical and computer engineering and co-director of Lehigh’s innovative IDEAS (Integrated Degree in Engineering, Arts and Sciences) honors degree. Jointly administered by Lehigh's College of Arts and Sciences and its Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science, IDEAS is a four-year honors program that allows students to get a bachelor's degree with heavy concentrations in both colleges.

Prof. Best's scholarly interests revolve around the technical, social, cultural and political aspects concerning engineering disasters. His particular interest is the social and political response to engineering disasters, primarily railway and structural disasters, in 20th century Britain. His work investigates the "Public Inquiry Process" and how this process, if at all, facilitates changes to these high risk technological systems. Other research interests include the ethical obligations of engineers and how technology is viewed in literature and popular culture.

Over the course of his 25+ year teaching career, he has taught numerous courses in electrical, mechanical, and bioengineering, and has developed and taught courses in engineering design, engineering ethics, the social impact of technology, technological catastrophes and the sociology of technology.


  • Ph.D., University College, University of London
  • M.S., Engineering Mechanics, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Tufts University