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Integrating Communication Skills Into A Mechanical Engineering Department

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Meeting ABET Requirements

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.781.1 - 11.781.17



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Paper Authors


Craig Gunn Michigan State University

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Craig James Gunn is Director of the Communication Program in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Michigan State University. In this role he directs the integrated communication program in mechanical engineering while providing help to the cooperative engineering education division of the College of Engineering. He serves as editor for the CED Newsbriefs and MCCE Co-op Courier.

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

Senior ME 451 – Controls ME 461 – Vibrations Year Laboratory and Project Reports: Laboratory and Project Reports: Laboratory Experiment Written Laboratory Experiment Written Reports (2 Reports (2 Formal Reports, Formal Reports, Individual); Abstract, Individual); Abstract, Nomenclature, Nomenclature, Introduction, Analysis, Results, Introduction, Analysis, Results, Discussion, and Conclusions – Teamwork (3-5 Discussion, and Conclusions – students/team), 9 short form reports, individual Teamwork (3-5 students/team), 9 Tools: MS Word, Excel, Matlab short form reports, individual Tools: MS Word ME – 471 Machine Design II ME 481 – Senior Capstone Design

Design Project Documentation: Problem Definition, Progress report, Formal Design Reports Project Report (1 @ 35- 200 pages) Detailed Tools: C Programming, Excel, description of design approach, results, and Matlab, WWW conclusions, with supporting documentation Teamwork 3-5 Students/Team Multiple industry interactions, small group presentations 1 Formal presentation to industry, faculty, and student audience Tools: MS Word, Excel, Matlab, WWW, PowerPoint

Means of Assessment

Since the inception of the Communication Program in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, there has always been a great concern with providing students with every opportunity to write and receive positive and critical comments on their text production. While we do not follow all students and chart their progress through the curriculum, we do monitor the overall improvement of their collective text production. We also provide them with a multitude of opportunities to practice their communication skill and receive feedback in both written and verbal experiences.

From the earliest forms of writing that take place in the EGR 291 course, we begin to build the foundation for the competent engineering communicator. In the early days of the program, two individuals read first drafts, provided feedback, read final copy, and graded that copy. This provided a technical reading along side a reading for proper communication. As more and more courses were added to the list of classes that required written text that would be graded on the communication side, it became necessary to bring into the program readers. These readers were simply the on average 20 existing teaching assistants each semester. They obviously read for technical content, but they could easily tell an undergraduate additional areas of concern that included flow of the text, logical wording, level of vocabulary, and enjoyment of what they read.

Gunn, C. (2006, June), Integrating Communication Skills Into A Mechanical Engineering Department Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--141

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