Asee peer logo

Teaching Engineering Career Literacy And Teamwork Communication Skills In The First Year Writing Course

Download Paper |


1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.388.1 - 2.388.4



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Mark A. Shields

author page

Bryan Pfaffenberger

Download Paper |

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

Session 2561

Teaching Engineering Career Literacy and Teamwork Communication Skills in the First-Year Writing Course

Bryan Pfaffenberger, Mark Shields Technology, Culture, and Communication/University of Virginia

One of the challenges that has long faced engineering education is to adapt communications instruction to the needs of engineering students. English composition courses, while appropriate for liberal arts students, do not focus on the communication skills prized by the organizations that hire engineering students. Such skills include the capacity for clear technical exposition (including process analysis and technical description) and the ability to adapt technical material to a variety of audiences.

Changing patterns of work in contemporary engineering organizations call for further innovation. In a revealing interview with 20 UVa engineering graduates in the summer of 1995, the Professional Development Committee - an ad-hoc faculty committee concerned to increase the professional development emphasis in the UVa engineering curriculum - found that our graduates cited the following shortcomings in their UVa engineering education:

• Insufficient emphasis on teamwork. Students need more experience working with people who have varying intellectual styles and abilities.

• Insufficient background for working effectively in cross-functional settings. Students need to understand the differences among the various functional units of a contemporary organization and learn to communicate across intellectual and cultural boundaries. Here, our interview subjects stressed the

• Insufficient career awareness. Students need to get to know themselves better and make major (and subsequent career) choices that suit their interests, temperament, and talents. They need to know how to find mentors who can help them work through important career decisions.

Summing up the responses we received, one of the interviewees commented, "This is really about appreciating diversity. When people say 'diversity,' they usually think we're talking about racial and sexual diversity. That's an important part of diversity training, but equally important is learning how to appreciate different thinking styles. When you graduate and get out there, you have to work with people who look at things differently. They have

Shields, M. A., & Pfaffenberger, B. (1997, June), Teaching Engineering Career Literacy And Teamwork Communication Skills In The First Year Writing Course Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6816

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: © 1997 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