San Antonio, Texas
June 10, 2012
June 10, 2012
June 13, 2012
Liberal Education/Engineering & Society
25.83.1 - 25.83.19
A Novel Approach to Teaching Technical Writing This paper describes how ENGI 2304: Technical Communications for Engineers usesbest-selling novels to provide course content and to lead students from their liberal studies intotheir engineering studies. Students read the novels Pompeii by Robert Harris and Prey byMichael Crichton and complete projects based on or inspired by those novels. The paper firstexplains the standard research projects in technical writing classes and outlines severalobjections with these projects. Then, it outlines the rationale for using literature in a technicalwriting class. Previous studies have argued against the practice of mixing literature withtechnical writing, so this paper explains how this new purpose and procedure answers thoseprevious objections. Then it explains how these newer novel projects meet the course goals aswell as provide fun content for both the professor and the students. The novels also providecontent for technical writing projects. For Pompeii, groups studied, wrote about, and presentedon Roman aqueducts, engineers in Roman society, Roman architecture, volcanic predictions, andthe eruption of Vesuvius, while those for Prey studied emergent behavior, the feasibility ofnanotechnology, the ecological dangers of nanotechnology, and distributed programming. Thenthe paper describes exactly how literature is used in the class and provides the results of theproject using an anonymous student survey. Students enjoyed the projects, and they learnedabout the forms of engineering writing.
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