Re: Teaching technical writing to engineers?
To be really useful, examples MUST be real-life. ...
Every generation of engineers has their favourite gadgets and toys. When I
was studying, it was the plethora of HP programmable calculators. These
gadgets are often badly documented and understood fully by only a few
students. makes for great general interest applicable examples for
When I took my required 2-credit technical writing course as a chemistry major at UB, we did many real life exercises (1 per week for a full semester course). Most of them were specific to...well...chemists and chemical engineers (journal articles, abstracts, chemical hazard reports, research disclosures, patent applications, etc.) but a few had more general applications.
We did procedures, of course. We also did several exercises based on technology 'toys'. The hot new gadgets on campus in the late 60s were portable cassette recorders. We did procedures (record, dub tapes, change batteries), white papers on various aspects of the technology, a comparative evaluation of several different models (supposedly analogous to justifying the purchase of a particular piece of lab equipment), and even a grant proposal to supply the gadgets to every member of the entering freshman class, all based on our favorite toy.
There are a lot of new technology toys available now, from PDAs to MP3 players to fancy cell phones that take your picture while you surf the web, download your email, and play shoot-em-up games with fellow geeks on other continents. I'm sure they could inspire a similar set of practical exercises.
Kat Nagel, MasterWork Consulting
katnagel -at- masterworkconsulting -dot- com
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