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Introducing Presentation Skills In Freshman Engineering

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Problem-Solving & Project-Based Learning

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.829.1 - 10.829.6

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Paper Authors

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Elisa Linsky

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Gunter Georgi

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

Introducing Presentation Skills in Freshman Engineering

Elisa Linsky, Gunter Georgi. Polytechnic University, Brooklyn, New York.

Mastering the art of technical presentations is critical for engineers and scientists. Teaching these skills presents certain challenges: How do we provide authentic subject matter and authentic presentation conditions with real audiences in an academic setting? How do we avoid instilling the bad habits that have become the norm for this genre? How do we provide students with enough opportunities to present so that they can practice the skills they are learning? These and other issues are being addressed in our introductory engineering course, EG 1004 Introduction to Engineering and Design.

This paper offers suggestions for introducing presentation skills early in the engineering curriculum. ABET Criterion G, an ability to communicate effectively, includes the ability to communicate orally. This criterion has often been met by offering a traditional speech class. While these courses are very effective in providing an opportunity to practice and master the skills needed for competent public speaking, the set of skills required to deliver an effective technical presentation is very different. They include: audience analysis, research, organization of material, the selection of appropriate media, and the creation of effective graphics. In addition, emphasis must be placed on successful strategies for dealing with the presentation of numbers and other technical data.

The paper concludes with a discussion of the differences in teaching presentation skills in a dedicated technical communication course, and in a technical course that requires weekly presentations. The advantage and disadvantage of each strategy will be explored. Suggestions for introducing this material in other courses will be offered.


There are a number of strategies that can be employed to teach technical presentation skills. The merits of the different approaches are open to debate; the necessity of addressing these skills early in the engineering curriculum is less controversial. ABET Criterion 3: Program Outcomes and Assessment, describes what students are expected to know or be able to do by the time they graduate. Criterion G, an ability to communicate effectively, has often been met by an introductory technical writing course and a speech class. We know that our students will have to present information orally throughout their careers. We also know that the accurate presentation of complex technical data is difficult. The set of skills required is not the same as the one addressed in a typical speech class. It is therefore important to develop a curriculum specific to the needs of engineers and scientists. Audience analysis, research, organization of material, the selection of appropriate media, the creation of effective graphics, and understanding useful

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering

Linsky, E., & Georgi, G. (2005, June), Introducing Presentation Skills In Freshman Engineering Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon.

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: © 2005 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