Salt Lake City, Utah
June 20, 2004
June 20, 2004
June 23, 2004
9.1367.1 - 9.1367.9
USING ALUMNI NETWORKING TO TEACH TECHNICAL COMMUNICATION Julie E. Sharp Vanderbilt University
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. https://peer.asee.org/12703
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