Our PEN Experts

We are excited to share our first group of PEN experts, whose workshops cover a range of important topics in professional communication. Please contact Procomm-ExpertNetwork@ieee.org if you are interested in having one of these speakers share their expertise at an upcoming conference or event. 

We are also interested in hearing from you about opportunities that may not be covered by the workshops/presentations featured here. If you have a particular topic in mind, or, if you are interested in shaping a workshop or talk, please get in touch with our PEN coordinator, who can help to pair you with an appropriate PEN speaker to shape a fresh conference session. 

Navigating corporate culture in the first few years on the job

Using active-learning exercises, this workshop teaches some best practices in building professional relationships (through formal and informal means), recognizing opportunities for contribution (creating value for a company) and ways to capitalize on those opportunities, and addressing corporate communication issues (intercultural communication, teaming, effective teleconferencing, and brief informal presentations).

Learning objectives include being able to recognize the different personality profiles in the workplace, determining the correct communication approaches based on those profiles, and finding opportunities to succeed on their own and collaboratively.

As Professor of Practice – Engineering Communications, Dr. Nancy Barr has developed a multi-faceted technical communications program in the Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics Department at Michigan Technological University. Her research interests include gender dynamics of engineering teams, professional skill development in engineering degree programs, and engineering communication assessment. She has a Ph.D. in Rhetoric, Theory, and Culture from Michigan Tech, with a focus on Writing Program Administration in STEM and is the author of three mystery novels and an award-winning short story. She is also a member of the American Society for Engineering Education, the Consortium for Graduate Communication, and is secretary of the Board of Governors for IEEE’s Professional Communication Society.

Reporting on your work persuasively and efficiently

This workshop will help researchers and engineers cut down the time they spend writing reports while making them more convincing and readable. The first part focusses on how to outline a clear and compelling technical argument in engineering, while the second looks at the audience and the kind of explanation they will be able to understand. This workshop should help any engineer who needs to communicate technical ideas. It is particularly helpful for students and young professionals who have projects and theses on the horizon, and for mid-career professionals looking to move up to positions where they have to pitch and report for their company or team.

Dr Sunny Bains is a scientist, journalist, and Principal Teaching Fellow at University College London, where she teaches research, analysis, and communication to students across the physical sciences and engineering. She is author of Explaining the Future: How to Research, Analyze, and Report on Emerging Technologies (Oxford University Press, 2019) and won the UCL Provost’s Teaching Award in 2016. She has degrees in physics, journalism, and physical computation for artificial intelligence and is currently researching a book on neuromorphic engineering. For further information, please see her main website at http://sunnybains.com.

How to write responses to RFPs (Request for Proposal) to win public and private sector business

Engineering companies wanting to do business in the public and private sectors need to write responses to RFPs. Two workshops will present practical information on how to write effective RFP responses that can improve the odds of winning business in the public and private sectors. The workshops can be taken independently of each other. At the end of the workshop(s), participants should have an understanding of what makes a public or private sector RFP successful.

Dr. Debbie Davy, Ph.D. is a Technical Communication Expert and Consultant with 25+ years experience in RFP development in a variety of industries serving international clients in the private and public sectors. She consults in knowledge management, project management, business analysis, and change management for the people side of change. Debbie is passionate about rhetoric and the role it plays in business communication. She is a Senior Member of the IEEE and shares her knowledge of Technical Communication and RFPs at IEEE international conferences. Debbie is a Director at D.K. Consultants Inc. (DK), a Toronto-based RFP company.

Kenneth C. Davy, B.A. (Hons.) is an RFP and Technical Documentation Expert with decades of experience in the production of proposals and RFPs, knowledge retention, and business documents. Ken’s extensive knowledge of RFPs spans both ends of the process, from writing and evaluation of RFPs that go to vendors to helping clients formulate the best response. And Ken’s background serving companies in the IT, engineering, financial, construction building materials, transportation, energy, telecommunications, and scientific research and development fields makes him particularly insightful as to what works and what doesn’t. Ken leads the RFP practice at D.K. Consultants Inc. (DK), a Toronto-based RFP company.

Theory to Action: Crafting Messages for the Public about your own Research

Effectively communicating to non-experts – to explain, to engage, and to persuade – about your own research can improve industry and research outcomes, funding proposals, and public acceptance. This half-day workshop helps attendees transform their research into “news” and a “pitch” for multiple audiences. Attendees will imagine the characteristics of their audience, develop a “pitch”, practice rhetorical tools like analogy and metaphor, and employ a journalistic framework.

At the end of this workshop, participants should have a set of communication artifacts – in varying stages of completion – that have allowed them to: (1) engage with their own research and (2) experiment with multiple techniques for communicating to non-experts. With these experiences in hand, we hope they leave with a better understanding of key issues and strategies for communicating with non-experts in multiple modes and contexts.

Lydia Wilkinson is a Lecturer in the Engineering Communication Program (ECP) in the Institute for Studies in Transdisciplinary Engineering Education and Practice (ISTEP) at the University of Toronto. She coordinates communication in Chemical Engineering at the University of Toronto, where she supports student success by connecting classroom learning to current engineering projects and their future workplace. She teaches communication at the graduate level through a research course in Chemical Engineering, as well as an optional seminar in career options for PhDs. Lydia’s research investigates interdisciplinary skills transfer with a specific focus on humanities integration for engineers.

Alan Chong is an Associate Professor, Teaching in the Engineering Communication Program (ECP) in the Institute for Studies in Transdisciplinary Engineering Education and Practice (ISTEP) at the University of Toronto. He coordinates communication instruction in Civil and Mineral Engineering, helping students develop their communication skills within various academic and industrial settings. He also teaches proposal and thesis writing to undergraduate and graduate students. Alan’s research interest involves developing opportunities for civic engagement among undergraduate engineering students and in Science Communication pedagogy, particularly around the development of case studies; he also serves as the IEEE Professional Communication Society’s Digital Content Curator.

Using peer- and self-editing skills from academia to improve workplace communication

This workshop begins with a focus on common problems with journal submissions—specifically how to increase the chances of your manuscript being accepted by an appropriate journal. Participants will benefit from Dr. Hayhoe’s significant experience as editor-in-chief of two technical journals. Even audiences who do not regularly submit journal manuscripts will benefit, as the skills from successful academic writing also apply to workplace communication.

The second stage of the workshop shows how to use peer- and self-editing in everyday workplace communication. When a professional editor is not available to help, one must get into an editor’s mindset to communicate effectively. Dr. Hayhoe’s experience teaching prospective engineers how to communicate forms the basis of this practical, hands-on stage of the workshop.

Dr. George Hayhoe has extensive experience within IEEE as part of our own Professional Communication Society. He has served as editor-in-chief for Technical Communication (1996-2008) and the IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication (2016-present). As Professor Emeritus of Technical Communication in Mercer University’s School of Engineering, Hayhoe spent 14 years teaching prospective engineers to communicate effectively. He has experience presenting short- and long-form workshops and presentations to domestic and international professional audiences.