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Student Success Impacts in Communication and Professional Networking Contexts

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Student Division Technical Session 4

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Paper Authors


Alyson Grace Eggleston The Citadel

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Alyson G. Eggleston is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, Fine Arts, and Communications at The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, where she teaches STEM-focused technical writing and communication, writing-intensive courses for international students, and linguistics. She received her PhD from Purdue University in Linguistics, and she has a BA and MA in English with concentrations in TESOL and writing pedagogy from Youngstown State University. Her research and teaching interests are in technical and scientific writing pedagogy and the interaction of language and cognition. She is a member of Sigma Xi and ASEE.

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Robert J. Rabb P.E. The Citadel

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Robert Rabb is a professor and the Mechanical Engineering Program Director at The Citadel. He previously taught mechanical engineering at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the United States Military Academy and his M.S.E. and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. His research and teaching interests are in mechatronics, regenerative power, and multidisciplinary engineering.

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Student-driven success in professional networking contexts is qualitatively surveyed and assessed in an engineering-specific technical writing and communications (TWC) course at [the Institution]. Data captured from several semesters indicates a positive trend of industry partners’ selection of TWC students for internships and employment. This data is corroborated by student-led surveying of peers who identify important connections between TWC course content and professional application.

Although not a graduation requirement at the institution, internships provide a real-world application of learned communicative strategies, reinforcing the skills needed to meaningfully participate in a professional community. Internships allow students to enhance their learning and problem-solving skills while partnered with scientists and engineers conducting work on innovative technology. In order to increase the students’ success in securing an internship, students used the TWC content and skills fostered in the course while networking and interviewing for one of these opportunities. Engineering students who implement some of the TWC skills and content typically see an immediate return, garnering a paid internship or an employment offer. The TWC skills are a link between classroom theory and concepts and real time impacts.

Through a student-led survey tool, this paper also seeks to identify the range of TWC content that can be refined and leveraged during networking and interviewing events. Additionally, feedback from the industry sponsors is presented as a metric for student progress, providing feedback for continuous improvement in the curriculum. Quantitative results indicate that TWC skills are relevant immediately, requiring very little scaffolding with other courses. This study provides a baseline of data and information to continue developing the TWC course and content.

Using student- and faculty-derived data and reports, this paper identifies valuable TWC-to-career applications as well as existing student skill gaps. Student perspectives and reported experience is presented as a driver for curricular development and growth, ensuring the TWC course at [the Institution] continues to adapt to engineering students’ evolving needs and opportunities.

Eggleston, A. G., & Rabb, R. J. (2020, June), Student Success Impacts in Communication and Professional Networking Contexts Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35241

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