Asee peer logo

Improving Technical Writing Among Engineering And Technology Students

Download Paper |


2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Importance of Technical & Professional Writing in Engineering Technology Curriculum

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.702.1 - 15.702.15



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Peilin Fu National University

author page

Shekar Viswanathan National University, San Diego

author page

Ronald Uhlig National University, San Diego

author page

Howard Evans National University, San Diego

Download Paper |

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

Improving Technical Writing among Engineering and Technology Students


The ability to communicate clearly and effectively is crucial to success in an engineering career. Good writing skills give students a competitive edge in job searches and career advances. It is widely agreed in and out of academia that instruction in writing is an important component of engineering education. Recognizing a serious deficiency in writing skills among today’s college graduates has motivated educators to continuously explore effective ways to help students improve their writing skills. In this paper, a novel framework to improve technical writing among engineering and technology students is introduced and analyzed. The framework proposed is currently under development by the School of Engineering and Technology at NATIONAL UNIVERSITY University, a private, non-profit institution dedicated to providing students with quality education. The main idea is to embed a series of tailor-made “signature” writing assignments into both undergraduate and graduate curricula. The framework begins with defining the types of written communications important for students in each program. It then identifies the courses and the appropriate type of writing that may be integrated into the curriculum. Specific signature assignments for each type of written communication have been developed and embedded in course syllabi. These signature assignments follow an IDM (introduce, develop, master) sequence, which makes sure that students can master and get adequate practice in required written communication before they get to their capstone/master’s project courses. Rubrics and useful resources such as samples, helpful hints and FAQs are being developed for students to use with each type of writing assignment. We believe that the proposed method would enable our engineering and technology students to significantly improve their technical writing skills. We are certain that these graduates will be able to easily impress their future employers and the general public by their excellent ability to communicate technical information in writing.

Introduction and Background

In general, technical professionals such as engineers and scientists are not typically characterized as having excellent communications skills, including in written communications. Some employer surveys support the validity of this perception through their findings that there is a gap between employers’ expectations and the actual capabilities of students/graduates of technical programs when it comes to communication skills1-3. The importance of communication skills is amplified by the fact that the competency of technical professionals may often be judged by their communications, meaning that limited skills in writing can have a negative impact on career progression. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), the accrediting body for engineering, engineering technology, computer science, applied science and related

Fu, P., & Viswanathan, S., & Uhlig, R., & Evans, H. (2010, June), Improving Technical Writing Among Engineering And Technology Students Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16906

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015