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Understanding the Expectations of Writing Skills in Engineering Design Courses and Professional Practice

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Fostering Business and Professional Skills in the Engineering Classroom

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

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Paper Authors


Veera Gnaneswar Gude P.E. Mississippi State University

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Veera Gnaneswar Gude is a faculty member of civil and environmental engineering department at Mississippi State University. He has degrees in chemical (B.S.) and environmental engineering (M.S., Ph.D.) disciplines with over 15 years of academic, industrial, and research experiences on various chemical and environmental engineering projects. He is a licensed professional engineer and a board certified environmental engineer. His passion for teaching continues for over 12 years since his graduate school. He has been active with ASEE and educational research for over 10 years. He is particularly interested in enhancing critical thinking skills among civil engineering students through various educational approaches. His research interests include water - energy nexus, desalination, and biofuels.

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The importance of writing in engineering practice is often not emphasized. As a result, many engineering students do not appreciate the impact of written reports in expressing the engineering content of their design. In this work, writing assignments were incorporated in senior design elective courses of environmental engineering. These courses, Engineered Environmental Systems - EES and Water & Wastewater Engineering – WWE, focused on concepts related to storm water treatment design and management and water - wastewater engineering principles and design respectively. A variety of writing assignments were given to students in these courses. WWE required more design-oriented and technical writing assignments while EES required both descriptive and design-oriented writing approaches. The writing assignments in EES include a concept report, three engineering design statements and a preliminary engineering design report while WWE included free writing, exploratory writing, formal writing, informal writing and reflective writing exercises. This paper will present the trends in student learning curves across two semesters. The evaluation criteria was based on the components such as consideration of audience (15%), quality of solution (15%), rigor of engineering analysis (25%), organization and focus (15%), clarity and coherence (15%), and professional appearance (15%). A comparison of student performance in terms of content accuracy, language issues and effect of writing expression between the three courses will be presented. The relationship between the number of errors and the type of writing activity was evaluated for the three semesters. The major differences in student performances among the different course writing assignments were characterized as “misconceptions of effective writing”, “weak language skills” and “ignorance of professional practice expectations”. The student experiences were also gathered through a survey consisting of questions related to their learning process and the expected engineering course outcomes. Lessons learnt from these engineering design and writing assignments and future direction will be discussed in this paper.

Gude, V. G. (2018, June), Understanding the Expectations of Writing Skills in Engineering Design Courses and Professional Practice Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31177

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