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Working World Problems And Communication For The Classroom

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Innovation for ChE Student Learning

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1477.1 - 10.1477.16

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Paper Authors

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William Willette

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Larry White

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Garry White

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


Dept. of Engineering Technology, Texas A&M- Corpus Christi/ Dept. of Computer Information Systems, Texas State University - San Marcos/ Dept. of Information Systems, University of Texas - Arlington


Engineering problems in the working world can differ from what students encounter in the classroom. The communication of the results also differs. For some engineering problems, e- mail has become the major method of communication.

This paper discusses the differences between the classroom and the working world. The paper also introduces a method to bring working world engineering problems and communication (via e-mail) into the classroom. The goal is to take the students to a higher level of understanding of the material. Another goal is to develop their communication skills.

A pilot study measured the quality of the students’ communication skills (i.e., e-mail). In this study, experienced engineers critiqued the students’ e-mails about an engineering problem. This study indicates a relationship between e-mail quality and hiring. Additional research is needed to determine if this method actually improves the students’ e-mail communication skills.

This paper demonstrates the need and value of writing technical e-mails clearly. The teaching method presented in this paper will help prepare students for industry and may help develop their skills in communicating technical issues.


I, the lead author, am a chemical engineer with 31 years of industrial experience. While preparing to teach thermodynamics and heat transfer, I found striking differences between the textbook problems and working world engineering problems. I also noticed that the students had little or no exposure to the communication needs of industry and businesses. As noted by S. Dillon(13), businesses are spending as much as 3.1 billion dollars annually to improve the writing style of their employees.

In response to these observations, this paper looks at these differences and introduces a method to bring working world engineering problems and e-mail communication into the classroom. A pilot study (completed in April, 2004) of the e-mail portion of this method indicates a relationship between e-mail quality and hiring.

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Willette, W., & White, L., & White, G. (2005, June), Working World Problems And Communication For The Classroom Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon.

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: © 2005 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