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Development of a Writing Workshop for a Mechanical Engineering Laboratory Course

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Trends in Mechanical Engineering: Trends and Tools

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.459.1 - 25.459.7



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Paper Authors


Vincent Capece University of Kentucky

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Vincent R. Capece is an Associate Professor of mechanical engineering. Capece received his B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Tennessee Technological University in 1980, M.S. in mechanical engineering from MIT in 1982, and Ph.D. from Purdue University in 1987.

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Development of a Writing Workshop for a Mechanical Engineering Laboratory CourseEngineers must be able to effectively communicate their work. Within the normal engineeringcurriculum, students first encounter formal engineering report writing in their laboratory courses.At xx university students are exposed to some formal report writing in an introductorymechanical engineering course. In this course a retired business writing faculty member gives areview of grammar and the students are presented with a template for writing engineeringreports, which is biased towards a laboratory course. The template includes, for example,writing samples, equation formatting and referencing, effective figure and table construction, andhow to cite references. However, the most intensive report writing experience does not occuruntil the spring semester of their junior year when they enroll in an engineering experimentationcourse. Having been a couple of years since the introductory course, many students at this pointare again rusty in the grammar department.To overcome these difficulties a lecture refresher in grammar was used along with a re-introduction to the report writing format. Nevertheless, many students still had difficulty withthe first few writing assignments. Thus, a two week technical writing component (writingworkshop) was added to the junior level experimentation course in spring 2010. The workshopconsists of lectures on grammar and technical report writing (figures, tables, nomenclature,referencing, etc.), quizzes, plus a writing assignment on an experiment. The grammar lectureswere taught in collaboration with the previous retired business writing faculty member. Thewriting assignment was progressive in that it involved a write and revise with feedbackphilosophy while adding additional sections with each revision cycle. The sections started withwriting a description of the experimental facility and progressively added sections until endingwith the conclusion section. Each writing assignment was reviewed and returned to the studentswith comments indicating areas needing improvement.In this paper the writing workshop is presented in detail. Assessment of student writing wasconducted through evaluation of the writing improvement, quizzes, and an end of workshopstudent survey. Students provided constructive feedback that is used to improve future offerings.

Capece, V. (2012, June), Development of a Writing Workshop for a Mechanical Engineering Laboratory Course Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21217

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