The Golden Rule of Clarity

I often hear engineers complain about the lack of clarity in the writing they read. Sometimes this complaint is phrased in terms like "this report doesn't flow," or "I can't understand what the point of this memo is."  Teaching engineering students to write clearly is my job, of course, and teaching clarity is one of my three favorite lessons to … [Read more...]

I’m Back!

My academic term--the winter quarter that began before Christmas and runs 10 weeks--is coming to an end. As my vision clears, I realize that I haven't been a responsible blogger for some time.  Students in my Technical Communication class have received most of my attention, and I am confident that they are better engineering writers than they were … [Read more...]

Next stop: Doha, Qatar!

In my role as president of PCS, I was invited to participate in the first World Congress on Engineering Education, sponsored by Texas A&M University at Qatar and the Maersk Oil Company.  The event brought together engineering educators, industry representatives, and members of government for three days of workshops, sessions, and vibrant … [Read more...]

At Shibaura Institute of Technology

On Friday, I gave the first of two talks at Shibaura Institute of Technology, entitled "Institutional Research and Educational Assessment at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology:  Creating a Culture of Evidence."  Faculty and staff involved in SIT's Global Initiative were there, along with faculty involved with SIT's new electronic portfolio project … [Read more...]

Konnichiwa from Tokyo!

In my role as president of PCS, I am traveling this week to visit Shibauru Institute of Technology in Tokyo, Japan.  The purpose of the trip is to give two talks at the university.  My host is Atsuko Yamazaki, a member of our PCS AdCom and a faculty member at Shibaura. There has been a concerted effort by the Japanese government to … [Read more...]

Oh Wow!

Check out the latest Prism magazine, published by the American Society for Engineering Education, to read more about how engineering educators are helping students improve their written and oral communication skills. Thomas K. Grose, in an article entitled "Wow The Audience," reviews efforts at North Carolina State University, Texas Tech, … [Read more...]

Unleash Your Inner Asimov

I was very pleased to read G. Pascal Zachary's Opinion piece in the November 2012 issue of the IEEE Spectrum magazine.  Yes, fiction has an important role to play in inspiring creativity among the engineering set.  In fact, according to Zachary, science fiction has influenced a host of innovative devices; Werner von Braun, the pioneer of rocketry, … [Read more...]

Let’s Engineer Communication!

On Monday, November 26th, we started a new academic term here at Rose-Hulman, my home institution. That means I met with students in the two sections of the Technical and Professional Communication course that I will teach this quarter.  When I introduce the course, I like to tell students that I have been teaching a version of "Tech Comm" for 18 … [Read more...]

The “A” Word

My blogging has been severely curtailed in the past several weeks because of the imminent arrival of program evaluators from the Engineering Accreditation Commission and the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET.  Yes, every six years (or more frequently if you aren't doing your job properly), engineering and computer science programs undergo … [Read more...]

The Writing Engineer

I was reminded recently about the amount of time working engineers spend on communication.  As Jon Leydens explained in his 2008 PCS Transactions article, "engineers spend between 20% and 40% of their workday writing, a figure that increases as they move up the career ladder.  Another study indicates that in their first few years on the job, … [Read more...]