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Improving Engineering Students' Writing Through Collaboration Between Writing Centers And Engineering Faculty

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.327.1 - 3.327.12

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Paper Authors

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Audeen W. Fentiman

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3461

Section 3461


Audeen W. Fentiman The Ohio State University


Engineering Graphics 166 (EG166) is required of all beginning engineering students at The Ohio State University. The course has always focused on graphical communications. In it, students learn how to make 3-D sketches that would allow a non-technical audience to understand their ideas for new equipment or products, detailed drawings that could be sent to a machinist who would fabricate the object, graphs of all types for presenting and analyzing data, and computer-generated drawings. However, in recent years, the scope of EG166 has been broadened to include written and oral communications as well. The change first occurred in response to a 1992 survey of 1000 graduates of The Ohio State University College of Engineering.1,2 In this survey, graduates who had been on the job for one to five years were asked to indicate the importance of several skills in the categories of basic engineering, graphics, computer use, and communications. The skills receiving the highest “importance rating” from these practicing engineers were written and oral communications. More recently the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) has released a new set of accrediting criteria for engineering programs in the United States, requiring engineering programs to demonstrate that their graduates have “ an ability to communicate effectively.” The emphasis on communications in EG166 was increased by including a team design project in thecourse. The project ran in parallel with instruction in graphics for the last six weeks of the quarter. Students were required to design a piece of equipment to solve a simple engineering problem, prepare a complete set of working drawings for the equipment, produce a written report, and make an oral presentation on their work.

Meanwhile, in the English Department, faculty and graduate students in the University Writing Center had recognized that writing styles and conventions, and indeed the purpose of writing, varied from one discipline to another. In an effort to make their services more valuable to students throughout the University, Writing Center staff members contacted faculty from many different departments and conducted in-depth interviews with them to learn about the writing requirements and instruction in those departments. During an interview with an Engineering Graphics faculty member, staff from the University Writing Center learned about the written reports required in EG166.

Fentiman, A. W. (1998, June), Improving Engineering Students' Writing Through Collaboration Between Writing Centers And Engineering Faculty Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.

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