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Technical Communication for Engineers: Improving Professional and Technical Skills

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Conference

2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Technological and Engineering Literacy/Philosophy of Engineering Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

Technological and Engineering Literacy/Philosophy of Engineering

Page Count

11

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/31068

Download Count

34

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Paper Authors

biography

Alyson Grace Eggleston The Citadel

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Alyson G. Eggleston received her B.A. and M.A. in English with a focus on writing pedagogy and linguistics from Youngstown State University and her PhD in Linguistics from Purdue University. She has taught at several U.S. institutions and in rural Nicaragua. Her research and teaching interests are in technical and scientific writing pedagogy and the interaction of language and cognition. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, Fine Arts, and Communications at The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina.

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biography

Robert J. Rabb P.E. The Citadel

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Robert Rabb is an associate 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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Abstract

Technical Communication for Engineers: Improving Professional and Technical Skills The engineering profession, through discipline-specific strategic visions and the voices of industry, has begun to enhance the engineer’s skill set beyond discipline-specific technical knowledge. As the demand has increased for engineers to improve their communication and professional skills, bridging the gap between analytical thinking and analytical communication has never been more important for our engineering students. Many professional engineering organizations have described their strategic vision for engineers to be able to communicate in a clear, concise manner. Professional communication skills and technical expertise are equally important in industry. However, traditional, humanities-based writing courses are often the sole formal writing preparation provided for engineering students. While the humanities offer courses that mandate expository, argumentative, and analytical writing, engineering students often overlook similar reasoning styles between engineering and the humanities due to the stark difference in content discussed. Additionally, technical writing within engineering, which includes published research, reports, presentations, among other knowledge products, is produced and organized according to differing conventions than those followed in the humanities. This paper discusses the design and implementation of a Technical Writing and Communication course, anchored in Project-based Learning (PBL), that seeks to improve areas of persistent communicative challenge for an engineering student population. Presenting results of lab scores and student surveys, this paper demonstrates engineering students’ improved abilities to present information and convey meaning more precisely. As a result, this paper argues that a PBL approach to designing a technical writing and communication class offers engineering students exposure to and mastery of situated, professional, and STEM-specific writing and presentation tasks. Qualitative and quantitative student feedback is also discussed, showing the positive impact the course has on engineering, lab based courses as well as students’positive perceptions of the course for preparation of professional skills.

Eggleston, A. G., & Rabb, R. J. (2018, June), Technical Communication for Engineers: Improving Professional and Technical Skills Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/31068

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