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A Novel Approach To Integrating Communication And Technical Skills Creating A Seamless Transition Into Today’s State Of The Art Engineering Technology Industrial Environment

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Nontechnical Skills for Engineering Technology Students

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.82.1 - 9.82.25



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Paper Authors

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Jerome Tapper

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Walter Buchanan

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

Session 1348

A Novel Approach to Integrating Communication and Technical Skills Creating a Seamless Transition into Today’s State of the Art Engineering Technology Industrial Environment Jerome Tapper, Walter Buchanan Northeastern University, School of Engineering Technology, Boston, MA

Abstract - Today’s engineering professionals are faced with many technical challenges. It can be agreed that the majority of colleges and universities across the country do an excellent job of educating our engineering and engineering technology students. However, not all technically competent students are taught the art of verbal and written communication correctly. Yes, there are courses that attempt to instill these techniques into the student, but are students really getting the point? In fact, are the teachers who are teaching technical communications to these students providing adequate examples and demonstrating proper technique that specifically focuses on the student’s future job market? From personal experience, it seems that only the very top students seem to be adequately prepared in this area. What about the rest? These folks seem to be falling behind the learning curve. This situation may take some time for these students to recover from. In industry, time is money. Only those students who have been prepared properly will advance quickly in an engineering environment. What can be done about this, if anything? The answer lies in a very simple concept – adequate practice and sufficient tools. Students must be prepared by being able to present technical ideas in professionally written and verbal formats. In order to do so, appropriate software tools of the trade must be mastered and practiced by the student to be successful. This paper chronicles the creation of a course that requires students to apply these software tools in a real industrially oriented venue. Software tools are discussed and examples shown. Students, currently working in industry, who have been exposed to this type of learning experience, in similar course venues, provide insight into the importance of such a course venue. An example of a project completed by a recent graduate is given to support this thesis.

Foundational Needs

Students, at all levels, acquire concepts more easily by putting in a sufficient amount of time in the art of practice. This idea may seem trivial, but many experts have said that continued practice is a major contributor to being successful in any field. Students can be made proficient in this art if they are required to present technical ideas in professionally prepared reports.

Industrial experience has proven that communication skills will be the largest contributor to enhancing a student’s technical career and advancement. Instilling this concept into students early on should be a top priority. In order for students to prepare properly written materials, they must have the appropriate tools to do so, be instructed on the operation and application of these tools, and be given the chance to practice.

The Venue

Several years back a need existed in the School of Engineering Technology at Northeastern University for the development of several technical elective courses within the Electrical

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Tapper, J., & Buchanan, W. (2004, June), A Novel Approach To Integrating Communication And Technical Skills Creating A Seamless Transition Into Today’s State Of The Art Engineering Technology Industrial Environment Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13386

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