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Senior Design Writing – It’s About Teamwork, Communications And Lifelong Learning

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Design in the ECE Curriculum

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1070.1 - 13.1070.12



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Paper Authors


James Friauf Milwaukee School of Engineering

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JAMES FRIAUF is Associate Professor and head of the English Division at Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) where he has taught communication courses since 1989. In addition to his teaching, Jim has provided communication skills training for business and industry. Jim received his M.A. in Communication from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1986.

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Stephen Williams Milwaukee School of Engineering

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Dr. Stephen Williams is Program Director of Electrical Engineering and Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). He received the Ph.D. degree from the University of Missouri in 1990 and has 20 years of experience across the corporate, government, and university sectors. He is a registered Professional Engineer in Wisconsin. He teaches courses in control systems, electronic design, and electromechanics.

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Steven Reyer Milwaukee School of Engineering

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Dr. Reyer is Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). He received his Ph.D. degree from Marquette University in 1978. He has done consulting in digital signal processing for the broadcast industry (digital FM radio and HDTV) and power industry. He is a Senior Member of the IEEE. He typically teaches courses in digital signal processing, microprocessors, and senior design.

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Owe Petersen Milwaukee School of Engineering

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Dr. Petersen is Department Chair and Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). He is a former Member of Technical Staff at AT&T Bell Laboratories and received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1971. He is a Senior Member of the IEEE and an ABET EAC program evaluator in Electrical Engineering.

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

Senior Design Writing – It’s About Teamwork, Communications and Lifelong Learning


Writing is both the conveyance of information to others and, even more importantly, a process that clarifies thoughts and ideas. It is a means of communication between people, making it an integral part of the teamwork process. It is a vehicle for addressing issues that clearly demonstrates continuous and life-long learning. A focus on writing in its various forms is an integral tool for demonstrating our graduates are practicing and have achieved some of the key ABET-driven program outcomes.

The writing communication requirements of our Electrical Engineering Senior Design sequence are specifically designed to give students experience in both team and individual communication covering a wide range of styles. The assignments naturally serve to propel the project, but also involve and demonstrate important aspects of team cooperation and lifelong learning. The intent is to assure personal and professional growth on the part of the students as engineers, team players, and societal members, in conformance to the program outcomes and to enhance their future success as prescribed by the program objectives.

Our writing communication requirements have been developed over many years of teaching hundreds of senior electrical engineering students. The normal expectations of three major team reports are guided by specific clearly communicated content and style requirements. But there are numerous other writing tasks as well, all intended to parallel business and industry requirements. They focus on providing evidence of individual contributions and range from engineering notebook entries to bi-weekly “elevator” style reports – very short succinct reports that demonstrate the progress made in the latest time interval. Finally, in conjunction with our “trade-show”-style Senior Design Show in May of each year, each team must create a poster with a primary pictorial emphasis to highlight their design. This is part of a poster competition that takes place the same day.


Much has been written about the essentials of writing requirements in various curricula settings and career preparations.1-3 Surveys repeatedly have demonstrated both the shortcomings of graduates in their ability to write and the demands of the workplace for improved performance.2 However, what has been stated with insufficient clarity is what is the specific purpose of writing, and, therefore, how can one more effectively address this issue in a curriculum?

We, like other programs, have both lofty and practical intents with our writing requirements. They are to enlarge and enrich the mind, to capture nuances as well as grand and complex concepts and to convincingly demonstrate achievements. The challenge becomes one of having students see writing as an integral part of their work as engineers, or their engineering practice.

Friauf, J., & Williams, S., & Reyer, S., & Petersen, O. (2008, June), Senior Design Writing – It’s About Teamwork, Communications And Lifelong Learning Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3705

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