Asee peer logo

Using Alumni Networking To Teach Technical Communication

Download Paper |


2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Writing and Communication II

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1367.1 - 9.1367.9

Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Julie Sharp Vanderbilt University

Download Paper |

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

Session 2661



This paper reports on a pilot project integrating the Vanderbilt Engineering Alumni Council (EAC) mentoring initiative with the ES 210w Technical Communication course, a technical communication class for all engineering majors taken mostly by juniors and seniors. The purpose was to establish helpful networking opportunities for students while teaching them report writing skills. Students surveyed alumni and other professionals about technical communication tasks at work. The following components comprised this project: an alumnus guest speaker, introducing the project; the writing assignment given to the students; student groups' planning and gathering information from alumni, the group-written reports, students’ post-assessment of the project, and a final alumni-sponsored luncheon meeting with alumni, students, the professor, and administrators. Survey results showed technical communication to be valuable and somewhat time-intensive in the workplace. Students and alumni both considered this project to be successful and recommended keeping it in the course with the students' rating being a 4.1 on a 5-point scale.


Bridging the gap between the engineering classroom and industry or "the real world" has been a goal for many engineering educators. To achieve it, some educators have simulated real engineering projects,1 encouraged students to contact alumni and other professionals,2 and set up mentoring programs.3-5 Alumni mentoring is one practice becoming more widely used, particularly with first-year engineering students. As Musiak et al. state, "Mentors help students get a better perspective on what the engineering profession is all about and what is expected of them to become engineers." 6 This paper reports on a pilot project integrating the Vanderbilt Engineering Alumni Council (EAC) mentoring initiative with the ES 210w Technical Communication course.

Prior to this project, another alumni mentoring project at Vanderbilt Engineering School had already been tried with freshmen in the introductory course. Freshmen were encouraged, though not required, to contact members of the Engineering Alumni Council and to begin establishing a supportive relationship that could be continued throughout and beyond their college years. In this way, students could form a network that could be valuable as they entered the workforce. In assessing this project's results, the EAC determined that not enough freshmen had participated. The EAC, therefore, decided to try networking with older students who might be more interested since they were nearer to graduation and entering the workforce. The technical communication course for all engineering majors seemed to fit the requirements since mostly juniors and seniors

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Sharp, J. (2004, June), Using Alumni Networking To Teach Technical Communication Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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: © 2004 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