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Engineering Communication and Engineering Criteria 2000: Assessing the Impact Through Papers Presented at the ASEE Annual Conference

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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

Engineering Communication I: History and Praxis

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

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Paper Authors


Kathryn A. Neeley University of Virginia

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Kathryn Neeley is Associate Professor of Science, Technology, and Society in the Engineering & Society Department of the School of Engineering and Applied Science. She has served twice as chair of the Liberal Education/Engineering & Society Division of ASEE and received the Sterling Olmsted Award for outstanding contributions to engineering education. i She is co-chair (with Judith Norback) of the Communication Across Divisions initiative, an effort to coordinate the efforts of all ASEE members who are researching and teaching engineering communication. That initiative is part of a broader effort to encourage a systems approach to engineering communication, that is, across the four years of an engineering curriculum and across institutions.

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Michael Alley Pennsylvania State University

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Michael Alley is a professor of teaching for engineering communications at Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of The Craft of Scientific Writing (Springer, 2018) and The Craft of Scientific Presentations (Springer-Verlag, 2013). He is also founder of the popular websites Writing as an Engineer or Scientist ( and the Assertion-Evidence Approach (

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This paper reports on an ambitious (and perhaps foolhardy) work-in-progress that aims to trace the history and evolution of engineering communication over the last 20 years, using papers published in the proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference as evidence. The last 20 years are worth analyzing because the implementation of the EC2000 criteria had the potential to transform the way the non-technical (professional) competencies, including engineering communication, are valued and taught within engineering education. The study reported here builds on work by Neeley and Norback (2016) and Neeley, Norback, Bennett, and Laugelli (2020) that analyzes all of the papers on communication published in 2015 and 2019, respectively. That work captures moments in time—what might be called “snapshots”—of engineering communication. The current study expands that approach by focusing on three years (2000, 2010, and 2020) and complements notable attempts (for example, Kynell, 1996 and 1999; Reave 2004; and Read and Michaud, 2018) to go beyond a single institution or instructional strategy to provide a more comprehensive view of engineering communication pedagogy and research. Because progress—or lack thereof—can best be assessed by looking at the goals that motivated EC2000, we begin by describing how the new criteria and process reflected several different communities’ aspirations for the “engineer of the 21st century.” Next, we introduce our methodology for analyzing the papers published in the ASEE proceedings as a way to study how the engineering education community has thought about communication over the past 20 years. After identifying trends and themes in each of the 3 years analyzed in this study, we sketch a preliminary history of engineering communication pedagogy and research in ASEE from 2000-2020. In brief, our initial findings suggest that (1) interest in engineering communication grew in tandem with the implementation of EC2000; (2) momentum built gradually between 2000 and 2010 and more rapidly between 2010 and 2020; (3) meaningful integration of communication into engineering curricula is possible but often not achieved at the level of a curriculum considered as a whole; and (4) the awareness of published research on engineering communication as reflected in the reference lists of the papers increased over the 20 year period, but few papers include a substantial literature review. We discovered that—despite substantial intellectual pedagogical advancements and the delivery of copious amounts of high-quality instruction by individual instructors—much of the work on engineering communication engages in what might be called “rediscovering the wheel,” that is, independently discovering one’s own strategies when many possibilities are readily available in the published research on engineering communication.

Neeley, K. A., & Alley, M. (2021, July), Engineering Communication and Engineering Criteria 2000: Assessing the Impact Through Papers Presented at the ASEE Annual Conference Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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