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Addressing Communication Issues through Faculty/Student Participation

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Creating and Maintaining Effective Communication Learning in the Curriculum

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.142.1 - 23.142.21



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Paper Authors


Craig J. Gunn Michigan State University

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Craig Gunn is the director of the Communication program in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Michigan State University. His duties include the integration of communication skill activity into all courses within the mechanical Engineering program, including overseas experiences. He works closely with the Cooperative Engineering Education Division of the College of Engineering to monitor the communication skills of students who co-op during their college years. He is currently the editor of the Cooperative and Experiential Education Division Newsbriefs and is co-author of a number of textbooks focusing on engineering freshmen orientation. He has spent almost 25 years at Michigan State University and for the past twelve years has co-chaired the MSU Community Charitable Campaign. His favorite activity is sponsoring the annual College of Engineering Poetry Forum at MSU.

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Addressing Communication Issues through Faculty/Student ParticipationAbstractMany changes in curriculum began with a study of current activities, needs, and resources andthe dictates of the current ABET criteria over 10 years ago. The need to assess currentengineering practices became clearly evident. Studies focusing on communication needs,suddenly took on a much greater importance when placed in juxtaposition with the ABETrequirements. The issue of needed communication skill in engineering was addressed in asurvey that looked at the perceptions of faculty and students to needed communication skillacquisition in mechanical engineering. Basic information regarding the perceived inadequaciesof students’ communication skills from both the students and the faculty perspectives wascollected. These results were tabulated and the concerns addressed. The survey was alsoextended to industry representatives to enlist their help in securing information on how theyperceive the communication skills of graduates of engineering programs. By viewing the datagleaned from students, faculty, and employers; the comments made helped to set new and variedgoals for students and faculty in the college of engineering.Departments of engineering spent a great deal of time preparing for the new accreditationstandards under EC 2000. The flexibility inherent in the way in which engineering departmentsaddress the needs of engineers can be both exciting and uncomfortable. Some departments sawthe above flexibility as too vague and therefore suspect. The area of communication may be oneof the problem areas because a typical response from engineering faculty may still be, “I am notan English teacher!” The lack of specific requirements may make faculty feel that they will beforced into teaching topics or skills that may not be comfortable for them. This paper focuses onan ongoing study of attitudes and concerns toward communication begun in the Department ofMechanical Engineering at XXX. Students and faculty are asked to comment on areas of concernin communication, areas that have received little or no attention or areas that seem to bepurposely avoided. The first stage of this study is completed. A report on the survey’s findingsis introduced along with how those findings will be used to adapt the curriculum. Specificactivities will be explained in connection with skill acquisition. A look at the elements that willbe refined for continued polling will also be included. It is hoped that by addressing the generalproblems experienced by both writers and speakers in the engineering curriculum, a foundationwill be formed upon which a system for improved communication skill in engineering can bebuilt.

Gunn, C. J. (2013, June), Addressing Communication Issues through Faculty/Student Participation Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19156

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