Technical communication for engineers: Improving professional and technical skills

Alyson Grace Eggleston, Robert J. Rabb

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

The engineering profession, through discipline-specific strategic visions and the voices of industry, has begun to enhance the engineer's skill set beyond discipline-specific technical knowledge. As the demand has increased for engineers to improve their communication and professional skills, bridging the gap between analytical thinking and analytical communication has never been more important for our engineering students. Many professional engineering organizations have described their strategic vision for engineers to be able to communicate in a clear, concise manner. Professional communication skills and technical expertise are equally important in industry. However, traditional, humanities-based writing courses are often the sole formal writing preparation provided for engineering students. While the humanities offer courses that mandate expository, argumentative, and analytical writing, engineering students often overlook similar reasoning styles between engineering and the humanities due to the stark difference in content discussed. Additionally, technical writing within engineering, which includes published research, reports, presentations, among other knowledge products, is produced and organized according to differing conventions than those followed in the humanities. This paper discusses the design and implementation of a Technical Writing and Communication course, anchored in Project-based Learning (PBL), that seeks to improve areas of persistent communicative challenge for an engineering student population. Presenting results of lab scores and student surveys, this paper demonstrates engineering students' improved abilities to present information and convey meaning more precisely. As a result, this paper argues that a PBL approach to designing a technical writing and communication class offers engineering students exposure to and mastery of situated, professional, and STEM-specific writing and presentation tasks. Qualitative and quantitative student feedback is also discussed, showing the positive impact the course has on engineering, lab based courses as well as students' positive perceptions of the course for preparation of professional skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
Volume2018-June
StatePublished - Jun 23 2018
Event125th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Salt Lake City, United States
Duration: Jun 23 2018Dec 27 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering

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