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An Integrated Approach to Developing Technical Communication Skills in Engineering Students

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Conference

2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Teaching Communication I

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

Page Count

20

Page Numbers

24.169.1 - 24.169.20

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/20060

Download Count

37

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Paper Authors

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Ronald S Harichandran University of New Haven

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Ron Harichandran is the Dean of the Tagliatela College of Engineering at the University of New Haven. He leads the Project to Integrate Technical Communication Habits and implemented a similar program in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Michigan State University when he was the chair there. Dr. Harichandran received his BE in Civil Engineering from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, and his MS and PhD from MIT. He was a faculty member in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Michigan State University for 27 years and chaired the department for 16 of those years.

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David J Adams Technical Communications Consultant

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David Adams has more than 23 years experience working in, developing and directing technical communication initiatives within engineering curricula.
Prior to his consulting with the Tagliatela College of Engineering, he had worked with similar projects at engineering colleges at Cornell University, Michigan State University and the University of Maine. He is the author of COPE: a Technical Writing Guide for Engineers, 2nd. ed. 2008. Pearson Custom. He is also a Senior Member of the Society for Technical Communication (STC).

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Michael A. Collura University of New Haven

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Michael A. Collura, professor of chemical engineering at the University of New Haven, received his B.S. in chemical engineering from Lafayette College and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in chemical engineering from Lehigh University. He is currently the Buckman Professor of chemical engineering and Coordinator of the Chemical Engineering program. His professional interests include the application of computers to process modeling and control (particularly for energy conversion processes), engineering education research (student self-assessment, developing conceptual understanding, multidisciplinary learning models), and reform of engineering education.

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Nadiye O. Erdil University of New Haven

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Nadiye O. Erdil is an Assistant Professor of Industrial Engineering and Engineering and Operations Management at the University of New Haven in Connecticut. She earned her B.S. in Computer Engineering, from Bogazici University, Turkey, M.S. in Industrial Engineering and Ph.D. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Binghamton University. Her research interests include use of information technology in operations management, quality and productivity improvement by using statistical tools and techniques, and design and implementation of quality management systems in healthcare delivery operations.

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W. David Harding University of New Haven

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W. DAVID HARDING is a Professor of Chemical Engineering and Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the University of New Haven. He received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering and M.S. in Engineering from Purdue University, and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Northwestern University. He also holds an M.S. in Education from University of New Haven. He is a licensed Professional Engineer in the state of Indiana and has nearly ten years of industrial experience. His professional interests include material synthesis, oxidation catalysis, pollution prevention and environmental processes.

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Jean Nocito-Gobel University of New Haven

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Amy Thompson University of New Haven

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Abstract

  An Integrated Approach to Developing Technical Communication Skills in Engineering StudentsAbstract The Project to Integrate Technical Communication Habits (PITCH) is being implementedacross seven engineering and computer science undergraduate programs. The project developswritten, oral and visual communication skills in students starting in the very first semester andcontinuing through all four years of each program. Student outcomes for the project wereestablished based on an extensive survey of employers, alumni and faculty. Communicationinstruments include technical memoranda, poster presentations, oral presentations, laboratoryreports, proposals, and senior design reports. In addition to text elements, the use of tables andgraphics also are addressed. Advice tables, annotated sample assignments and grading rubrics arebeing developed for each instrument to assist students in their work and facilitate consistency ininstruction and assessment across multiple instructors teaching different course sections. Within each of the seven programs, specific courses that span all four years are targeted forimplementation and assessment of technical communication skills. Roadmaps showing the targetcourses, and the instruments deployed and outcomes to be learned in each course are madeavailable to students in each program. The different communication instruments are distributedacross courses as appropriate, and the skills are developed at deeper and deeper levels as studentsprogress through the years. A critical feature of the project is that technical communication skillsare integrated into the content of regular engineering courses and are taught by regularengineering faculty. In the first year of the project, 16 engineering and computer science facultywere trained by an external consultant through summer workshops to deliver and assess thetechnical communication instruments in their courses. All PITCH assignments submitted bystudents are being archived and will be used in a longitudinal assessment of the effectiveness ofthe project as the first cohort of students who started in fall 2013 near graduation. PITCH is funded by the Davis Educational Foundation and is designed to be self-sustainingafter the three-year period of grant support. This paper describes the approach used, lists the PITCH student outcomes, and providesexamples of the PITCH roadmaps, as well as the resources provided to students and faculty.   1  

Harichandran, R. S., & Adams, D. J., & Collura, M. A., & Erdil, N. O., & Harding, W. D., & Nocito-Gobel, J., & Thompson, A. (2014, June), An Integrated Approach to Developing Technical Communication Skills in Engineering Students Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. https://peer.asee.org/20060

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