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Creating a Communications Curriculum for the Modern Engineer

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Capstone Design

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Geoffrey Recktenwald Michigan State University

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Geoff Recktenwald is a member of the teaching faculty in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Michigan State University. Geoff holds a PhD in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics from Cornell University and Bachelor degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Physics from Cedarville University. His research interests are focused on best practices for student learning and student success. He is currently developing and researching SMART assessment, a modified mastery learning pedagogy for problem based courses. He created and co-teaches a multi-year integrated system design (ISD) project for mechanical engineering students. He is a mentor to mechanical engineering graduate teaching fellows and actively champions the adoption and use of teaching technologies.

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Danny Rubin Rubin

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Danny Rubin is the founder of Rubin, a leading provider of online curriculum for business communication skills. Rubin, the company, provides its signature curriculum, called "Emerge," to engineering schools nationwide. Emerge features in-demand communication topics like email etiquette, phone etiquette, networking, LinkedIn and more. Danny began his career as a local TV news reporter and national news consultant for NBC's "Meet the Press." He's a graduate of the University of Virginia and also received a master's in broadcast journalism from the University of Maryland - College Park.

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Successful engineering requires communication skills. Clear communication is necessary for selling ideas, working on teams, reporting results, and negotiating a career. While engineers do learn how to write lab reports and other technical documents, many engineering faculty do not include professional communication skills in their courses. It is often assumed that students are capable of writing professional emails, communicating with team members, keeping minutes for a meeting, or summarizing a meeting with little or no formal instruction. When communication education is included, it is included as an add-on and often only addressed at the level of proficiency of the instructors (who are typically not experts in professional communication). The purpose of this paper is to outline a multi-course effort at Michigan State University to meaningfully integrate a professional communication curriculum into their core engineering classes. The paper outlines the development of a multi-course syllabus and leveraging an existing communications education solution. Careful work is done to integrate communication education into the course objectives and curriculum rather than treating it as an add-on. Evidence of successfully achieving student outcomes is measured with student surveys and questionnaires.

Recktenwald, G., & Rubin, D. (2021, July), Creating a Communications Curriculum for the Modern Engineer Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36865

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