SUMMARY: teaching technical writing to engineers

Subject: SUMMARY: teaching technical writing to engineers
From: Evelyn G Barker <ebarker -at- uta -dot- edu>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 29 Mar 2004 09:31:08 -0600

Thanks to everyone for all the great responses.


Summary of ideas for teaching technical writing to engineers

Types of items to create

White papers
Status reports
Test assertions
Design docs
Process docs
End-user manuals
Technical reports

Class project suggestions

Take a hot gadget like an MP3 player and write about it:
* End-user procedures (how to operate, upload songs, delete songs,
* White papers on the technology
* Comparative analysis of different models
* Proposals to supply entire class with the gadget
Write processed of everyday activities:
* Making ice with an ice tray
* Sharpening a pencil
* Vacuuming the floor
* Raking the yard
Engage in role playing exercises as writer and SME or writer and end user.
Take existing instructions or memo that is unclear and have students rewrite
to that it is clear.
Bring manuals from home and discuss the good and bad features of each.
Have feedback/review sessions of their work.
Exercise to show how hard it is to write clear instructions:
Have two people, one with a drawing. The one with the drawing must explain
to the other how to draw the image without showing the drawing or making
gestures. The one with the drawing cannot look at the one doing the drawing
to see how they are doing.
Keep a journal
Paper prototyping exercise
Oral presentations

Books Recommended

Style - Toward Clarity and Grace by Joseph M. Williams
Strunk and White
Books by Alan Cooper
The Little, Brown Handbook
"User Interface Design for Programmers" by Joel Spolsky
Effective Writing: for Engineers, Managers, Scientists by HJ Tichy
' How to Write and Present Technical Information' by Charles H. Sides
Complete Idiot's Guide to Technical Writing by Krista Van Laan

University Programs Mentioned

Cal Poly San Luis
Michigan Technological University


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