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Teaching Workplace Communication In Senior Design

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Teaching Industrial Engineers Design

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.1111.1 - 7.1111.8



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Paper Authors

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Stephanie A. Jernigan

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Garlie Forehand

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Alexander B. Quinn

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Judith Norback

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

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Session 2257

Teaching Workplace Communication in Senior Design

Judith Shaul Norback, Garlie A. Forehand, Stephanie A. Jernigan, Alexander B. Quinn

School of Industrial and Systems Engineering Georgia Institute of Technology


Many engineers who are well prepared technically for the workplace could enhance their workplace communication skills to help them get jobs and move up the ladder. The efforts detailed in this article apply job communicative analysis, a systematic process for identifying the communication needs of various jobs, to this end. The goal is the integration of workplace communication instruction into Senior Design and other undergraduate courses. Personal interviews with practicing engineers, supervisors, and CEOs have been conducted to obtain examples of written or presented materials. A set of criteria of communication excellence has been identified from the interview data and is being used in teaching workplace communication. This article includes highlights from a literature review of writing and presenting in engineering, the results from the job interviews, and an overview of the strategies used in teaching workplace communication in Senior Design. Concrete examples will be given in the presentation along with specific steps for replicating the work. The results will be made available for use in other institutions’ undergraduate engineering curricula.

I. Introduction

Communication skills are more important to engineering graduates than ever before, partly because of the recent Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) criteria that include written and oral communication. 1 Communication courses have been included in engineering curricula for years. However, according to recent research, “graduating engineers are inadequately equipped to meet” the written and oral communication needs of today’s technical workplace.2 In a 1993 survey of employers, 70 to 80 percent indicated that communication skills are valuable in new engineers. “Engineers struggle with writing because they have nothing to emulate…[they have] no concrete examples from companies.” 3 In 1999, a survey of managers, training directors, and manufacturing engineers was sponsored by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. The survey focused on a variety of competency areas, including oral and written communication. Two of the results were: 1) the oral and written

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Jernigan, S. A., & Forehand, G., & Quinn, A. B., & Norback, J. (2002, June), Teaching Workplace Communication In Senior Design Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--11030

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