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Oral Communication: A Course Of Action For An Engineering Department

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.344.1 - 1.344.2

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Paper Authors

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Craig Gunn

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

Session 1161

Oral communication: A Course of Action for an Engineering Department

Craig James Gunn Michigan State University

Abstract As students and faculty become more and more attuned to the real world and the requirement that graduating engineers be multi-faceted, the importance of skill in oral presentation will grow exponentially in departments of engineering. There are many things that can be done within any engineering department to foster presentation skill. Simple practical methods ingrained in courses, extra-curricular activities, and simple contacts can improve the quality of our students. The steady progression of oral communication skill within a curriculum will help to make a graduating engineer a complete individual.

Introduction As recent comments from an evaluator for ABET show, presentation skills are vital for engineering, All departments need to show their concern for this area of expertise. Specific identification of location in the curriculum where students will become acquainted with the needs to communicate orally must be easily recognizable. It is no longer enough to speak about the needs or to expect that others at some unknown locations will pass on the tools. For those departments that do not allow students to enter the programs until their junior year it is critical that a mechanism be in place within the department to ensure that engineering graduates possess all those traits that the world expects of them.

Methods Since it is clearly impossible to impart these necessary tools and their practice in single efforts or courses, departments must prepare students through a development of assignments and activities. Responsibility must be placed on courses that are required by the department to provide the location for oral presentation skills. If eight courses are required of all mechanical engineering graduates, this is a logical place to plan a course of action that will ensure competency and practice. In the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Michigan State University plans are being implemented to ensure that students will be competitive in the working world. Activities are being orchestrated to give students not only the chance to write but to practice their speaking skills. Beginning with a junior year fluids’ laboratory students will be given the chance to perform informal self and fellow-student introductions. At this early stage in the taking of engineering course, the coupling of engineering skill acquisition and the means to convey the information is evident. The importance of being able to stand up and speak becomes an integral part of a student’s life. Since laboratory courses require group work, the process of presenting information to one’s own small group will also be part of the presentation schema. Brief presentations of materials collected in the laboratories will also be included in the work of the students. In their first classes they are shown both the need to communicate and the relaxed manner within which it can be done. Videotaping of presentations also begins at this stage. Students can then review their own performances within the comfort of their own private

+&’-’ 1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings ) ‘..plj .

Gunn, C. (1996, June), Oral Communication: A Course Of Action For An Engineering Department Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia.

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