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A Community Addresses Communication

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Teamwork, K-12: Projects to Promote Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.23.1 - 8.23.22



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Paper Authors

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Craig Gunn

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1660

A Community Addresses Communication

Craig James Gunn Department of Mechanical Engineering Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 48824-1226


All changes in curriculum should begin with a study of current activities, needs, and resources. With the advent of EC 2000, the need to assess current engineering practices became clearly evident. A study focusing on communication needs, which began in the summer of 1997, suddenly took on a much greater importance when placed in juxtaposition with the ABET requirements. The issue of needed communication skill in engineering was addressed in the survey along with ways in which to provide this needed skill acquisition to mechanical engineering students. Basic information regarding the perceived inadequacies of students’ communication skills from both the students and the faculty perspectives was collected. These results were tabulated and the concerns addressed. The survey was also extended to industry representatives to enlist their help in securing information on how they perceive the communication skills of graduates of engineering programs to be. By viewing the data gleaned from students, faculty, and employers; the comments made can help to set new and varied goals for students and faculty in the college of engineering.


Departments of engineering have now had over three years to experience the new accreditation standards under EC 2000. The flexibility inherent in the way in which engineering departments address the needs of engineers can be both exciting and uncomfortable. Some departments may continue to see the above flexibility as too vague and therefore suspect. The area of communication may be one of the problem areas because a typical response from engineering faculty may still be, “I am not an English teacher!” The lack of specific requirements may make faculty feel that they will be forced into teaching topics or skills that may not be comfortable for them. This paper focuses on an ongoing study of attitudes and concerns toward communication skill acquisition in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Michigan State University. Students and faculty are continually being asked to comment on areas of concern in communication, areas that have received little or no attention, or areas that seem to be purposely avoided. Specific activities will be explained in connection with skill acquisition. A look at the elements that will be refined for continued polling will also be included. It is hoped that by addressing the general problems experienced by both writers and speakers in the engineering curriculum, a foundation will be formed upon which a system for improved communication skill in engineering can be built and modified or copied by other engineering departments.

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Gunn, C. (2003, June), A Community Addresses Communication Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12543

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