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Veteran Student Leadership Skills in an Engineering Technical Writing Course

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Military and Veterans Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

Military and Veterans

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Alyson Grace Eggleston The Citadel

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Alyson G. Eggleston is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, Fine Arts, and Communications at The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, where she teaches STEM-focused technical writing and communication, writing-intensive courses for international students, and linguistics. She received her PhD from Purdue University in Linguistics, and she has a BA and MA in English with concentrations in TESOL and writing pedagogy from Youngstown State University. Her research and teaching interests are in technical and scientific writing pedagogy and the interaction of language and cognition. She is a member of Sigma Xi and ASEE.

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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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Technical proficiency is a desirable skill for engineers, but often is one proficiency on a list of required skills from employers. There is a growing emphasis for engineers to have other professional skills: organization, communication, ability to function on a team, and leadership, to name a few. Veteran students upon graduation provide many of these skills to industries and organizations. Service academies and senior military colleges require a highly structured leadership curriculum and formal experience for all their cadet students. However, due to military obligations, much of this talent will not be available to industry. Because many veterans served in the military before acquiring their academic education, veteran students are well poised to exercise leadership roles and responsibilities immediately in and out of the classroom. The [Institution] has a formal, four-functional area leadership model that assesses leader development in multiple ways. Integrated in the leadership model are Leader Characteristics that describe a leader’s actions. At the [Institution], professors help students develop intellectual capacity to be leaders, by developing critical thinking, communications, philosophical, theoretical, and analytical skills associated with their development. In the model, sophomores engage by learning the skills associated with direct leadership of individuals and small teams and the management of duties. In a sophomore-level technical writing course (required of all engineering majors), sophomore-level leader development was assessed using the institution’s criteria. These small teams had a hands-on, technical assignment that lasted several weeks. There was a difference in leadership skills and communication skills observed between the traditional students with their formal leadership curricula and the veteran students. This paper presents a brief overview of a new project-based assignment in a technical writing course designed to assess multiple outcomes, its institution-specific implementation, and current veteran success indicators. Data from surveys and institutionally defined leadership characteristics are presented. Finally, by teaming veteran students with traditional students, technical writing educators can provide opportunities for veteran students to demonstrate in-classroom leadership and contribute experiential insight for the collective benefit of veteran students and their traditional student counterparts.

Eggleston, A. G., & Rabb, R. J. (2019, June), Veteran Student Leadership Skills in an Engineering Technical Writing Course Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33532

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