June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
Multidisciplinary Engineering and Liberal Education/Engineering & Society
24.1221.1 - 24.1221.8
The Grandest Challenge: Models for Communication Development in Technical ContextsAs engineering educators who teach communication, we are cognizant of the gap that exists betweenthe content and skills that are foundational to our courses and the technical content of the rest of theengineering curricula. That gap reinforces a misapprehension among students that the principles ofeffective communication—audience analysis, rhetorical awareness, and the like—are unrelated to thetechnical work of design. At our institution, we have recognized this challenge and have sought ways tobring communication content and technical content together in ways that are manageable by facultywho are not engineers. The required course in professional and technical communication at our collegeis required of all engineering and computer science majors and is usually taken in the junior year. Thecourse has undergone many transformations in content and focus since it was first developed in 1994.The latest iteration blends communication principles with technical projects that can bridge the divideand help students see how the two fields are intricately intertwined in the engineering workplace.This presentation is structured around four approaches to the task developed by four faculty. First, wediscuss how the blending of communication and technical content has been achieved through asustainable engineering project that functions as the centerpiece of the course. Then we will presentthree variations on that initial model: a project focused on the Keystone Pipeline; a project focused onthe work of our college’s Engineers Without Borders organization; and finally a project that blends theGrand Challenges for Engineering with outreach to middle schools. We believe that ASEE attendees willleave this presentation with a clearer understanding of the possible intersections betweencommunication and engineering and that they will be able to adapt our models to their own institutionalcontexts.
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