Technical Communication Program
The Technical Communication Program is part of the Department of Engineering Professional Development in the College of Engineering.
About the Program
The Technical Communication Program teaches the major communication courses for undergraduate students in the College of Engineering. The tiered undergraduate courses in Basic and Technical Communication (EPD 155 and EPD 397) meet the University’s General Education (Comm-A and Comm-B) requirements and engineering departmental requirements. A third course in Technical Presentations (EPD 275) is required by some undergraduate programs. Beyond these requirements, engineering and other undergraduate students from all disciplines may choose to earn the Technical Communication Certificate, which functions like a minor and further enhances their professional communication skills. The mission and learning objectives for the full Technical Communication program may be found here.
Our Role in the College of Engineering
The Technical Communication Program promotes communication skills transfer across the engineering curriculum beyond teaching the required core communication courses, and our instructors often serve as liaisons to courses of all levels in the College. Because we know that students should learn and practice writing and presentation skills early in their undergraduate career, we have given guest lectures in InterEgr 160, a freshman-level introduction to engineering design course, and have provided guidance for their end-of-semester design reports (our Certificate students are involved in this effort as well). We have worked with senior design courses in multiple departments to help students refine their final design reports and their presentations. While our focus is typically on undergraduate education, we support CoE’s graduate programs through guest lectures, multi-day writing workshops, and sessions at TIP/NEO. Tech Comm faculty also teach graduate students and professional engineers in courses offered by Engineering Professional Development.
Our instructors have worked directly with faculty in engineering departments as well: we can help instructors integrate communication instruction into their courses, design specific, focused communication assignments, and create grading rubrics that articulate clear expectations for student work. With support from the College, we have produced a series of Moodle-based instructional modules that faculty can use in their own courses to provide an overview of best practices in many different communication areas.
In 2011-2012, Tech Comm participated actively in the assessment process that ultimately resulted in ABET’s reaccreditation of twelve undergraduate programs in CoE. We collected extensive data on student performance in ABET outcomes (a-k), particularly: (d) an ability to function in multidisciplinary teams, (f) an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility, (g) an ability to communicate effectively, (h) the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context, (i) a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning, and (j) a knowledge of contemporary issues. Individual departments then used these data in their self-studies and in developing their plans for future improvement. In the coming years Tech Comm instructors plan to build stronger cross-departmental relationships to support engineering faculty in teaching and assessing student outcomes; we will continue to build on our existing collaborative efforts with senior design faculty, particularly through our online modules and rubrics, for reinforcement of some of these skills.
Technical Communication Certificate
Because we know employers are placing greater emphasis on workplace communication skills, Tech Comm offers the Technical Communication Certificate (TCC) for undergraduates who are interested in honing their communication skills. Students enrolled in the certificate will benefit from instruction in designing, writing, editing, presenting, and evaluating technical and scientific information, and by collaborating in interdisciplinary teams. (We regret that we are unable to offer the TCC to graduate students.)
The Technical Communication Program strives to enhance our students’ communication abilities and provide effective communication training for undergraduates in engineering and science disciplines.
Overall, the objectives of the Program are to:
- Provide education in principles and processes for communicating about technical subjects (including problem solving methods, audience analysis, rhetorical analysis, conventions of format, and usability testing).
- Provide education in the fundamentals of written, oral, and visual communication (including structure, style, mechanics, format, and delivery).
- Emphasize effective interpersonal communication and management skills (including teamwork, interviewing, leading and facilitating groups, project management and international communication).
- Extend opportunities for students to research and think analytically about contemporary issues and consider ethical issues.
- Use current technology to encourage effective communication in a variety of formats and environments.
- Strengthen relationships with other engineering departments and industry (i.e. integrate communication in the engineering curriculum and provide students with real world experiences through communication internships and guest lectures).
For the learning goals of the Technical Communication Certificate, please click here.