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Partnership Between Engineering And Professional Writing

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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

15.940.1 - 15.940.16



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Paper Authors


Beth Richards University of Hartford

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Beth Richards is director of the Rhetoric and Professional Writing program at the University of Hartford where she team teaches with first-year engineering faculty and is the writing mentor for seniors enrolled in the design project course.

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Ivana Milanovic University of Hartford

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Ivana Milanovic is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering in the College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture at the University of Hartford. She received her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Polytechnic Institute of NYU, NY and M.S. and B.S. from University of Belgrade, Serbia.

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

Partnership between Senior Design Project in Mechanical Engineering Technology and Professional Writing


This paper will describe the preparation required for a capstone mentored class, the approach taken and the skills needed by both engineering and writing instructors. In addition, the paper will show the methods used to “refresh” student memory about previous writing instructions, writing and presentation criteria established, and the progression of student skills in meeting these criteria for both technical reports and presentations. Recommendations for implementing this approach in other project settings are also discussed.


All mechanical engineering technology (MET) students in our college are required to take three writing courses, Technical Communications 111, 241, and 481, scheduled for the first, fourth, and seventh semesters, respectively.

TC 111: Expository Communication. Extensive practice in expository writing, emphasizing objective, clear, concise form, with most readings from nonfiction prose. Provides experience in organizing and presenting individual oral and laboratory reports. Introduces library usage and research techniques. Prepares students for technical writing and oral communication in TCII.

TC 241: Technical Communication. Introduction to technical communication, including written and oral skills. The course emphasizes basic structures used in recording and reporting technical information, including analysis of audience, language, and purpose; techniques of persuasion; page design and graphics; and technical definition and description. Students also prepare memos, resumes, lab reports, and a documented technical research paper. Oral technical presentations are also required. The interrelationships of technology and society, along with the ethics of technology, are considered.

TC 481: Advanced Technical Communication. Applications of skills learned in previous technical communication courses, with emphasis on practical writing and speaking. Students prepare informal and formal documents, including instructions, proposals progress reports, and letters. Individual and group oral presentations, as well as group project and ongoing discussion of technology, society, and associated ethical considerations, are required. These courses cover foundational rhetoric and practical aspects of technical report writing and design, as well as the rhetorical and applied aspects of professional presentations. However, engineering instructors realized that fourth-year students were not connecting their work in technical writing to the actual production of a report and presentation for industry sponsors, which was a key component of the senior design project (SDP).1

The Challenges of Teaching Writing in the Engineering Classroom

Our students take courses in increasingly complex engineering topics as well as in increasingly complex writing principles. In both course sequences, students have significant opportunity to

Richards, B., & Milanovic, I. (2010, June), Partnership Between Engineering And Professional Writing Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15926

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