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Memo

To: Dr. Ken Bloemer and Dr. Li


From: Ean Kuska
Date: 10/19/17
Subject: Secondary Research on Engineering and Writing

Introduction
This memo talks about writing and communication in the engineering workplace. The purpose
is to report and summarize the role of writing and communication as well as its prevalence in the
job of an engineer. 5 different resources: a book, a blog, an online article, and two journals, will
be discussed here.

Mechanical Engineering
Mechanical engineering is the designing and building of moving parts or objects in order to
make the world a better, more efficient place. Mechanical engineers identify problems in the
real world and then design and build practical solutions to these problems.

Methodology
In order to complete this research, I first chose 5 sources that were relevant to the topic. Then, I
read each one individually, taking notes as I read. Finally, I outlined the main ideas about
writing and communication found in each source, and wrote small summaries in order to convey
the message in the best way possible.

Results
The following credible, scholarly sources were used because they contain valid information
about the topic.
- Engineering Writing/Writing Engineering
Knowledge is severely shaped by language, especially in the field of engineering. After
following an engineer at his workplace, it is clear to the author that writing is a large part of the
engineers job. While he works with emissions, he must write reports, instrument traces, data
sheets, logbooks, physical explanations, etc. Although his position in his company seem to
imply he does more writing than a typical engineer, there is reason to believe this engineer and
his company are typical in the way they work with writing. Finally, engineers commonly write
about other writing, while following manuals and other previously completed reports and
documents.
- A Guide to Writing as an Engineer (Chapter 1)
Although many people hope to leave writing behind when going into the field of
engineering, the truth of the matter is that engineers write very often. Unfortunately, most
universities do not provide their engineering students with a sufficient amount of writing courses
in order to develop the strong writing skills needed. On average, many engineers spend over
40% of their work time writing, (Beer 2). Engineers work with and write for all kinds of people,
not just colleagues and clients; therefore, they must be able to sufficiently write many different
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Dr. Ken Bloemer and Dr. Li
10/19/17

types of documents like studies, guides, manuals, standard reports, special reports, technical
reports, corporate papers, publications, and interoffice letters. Because of the amount of writing
engineers are required to do, strong writing skills are necessary in successful engineering
careers.
- Is Writing an Essential Skill for Engineers
The idea that engineers do not need to be able to write or communicate effectively is a
myth. Lots of great ideas have never seen the light of day because the engineers who come up
with them are not able to communicate them properly. Having strong communication and
writing skills are key to a solid career in engineering because of the necessary contact within a
company but also with clients. Writing is also an important leadership skill. Because verbal
communication is not always the most convenient method, many times emails need to be sent
in order to describe experiments, explain results, or even to justify continued funding of a certain
project. It is clear that in order to succeed as an engineer, writing and communication skills
need to be developed and mature.
- Teaching Freshman Engineering Communication
Throughout elementary and high school, students teach themselves to write in order to
get a good grade from a specific person. They are trained to write individualistically and to their
teacher. Because engineers must write for peers, not teachers, and they have to communicate
findings and justify choices about designs, components, and solutions, a significant change in
their writing skills and habits is required. The best way to teach students to be successful
writers in the engineering workplace is to force them to solve exercises that train electronic
design and engineering writing. In addition, they will need to write technical notes, not only to
be viewed by the teacher, but also to be viewed by their peers.
- How Engineers Can Improve Technical Writing
Technical writing is a large part of an engineers job, and even though engineers are
technical people, that does not mean they are skilled technical writers. Engineers are having to
produce an increasing number of written documents in the workplace. These include trip
reports, proposals, status reports, meeting minutes, site visits, and even lab experiments.
Splitting large written works into smaller, modules, is one way to improve technical writing.
Writing, in general, is a large part of the engineers job.

Discussion of Findings
In a clean sweep, all 5 sources agree that writing is a very important part of an engineers job.
Whether it is when dealing with emissions or lab experiments or even just designs, writing and
communication seem to be very important.

Conclusion
While many people believe they can escape writing by becoming an engineer, they are sadly
mistaken. Not only does one encounter writing every day while in the field of engineering, they
need to be able to write well in order to succeed in the workplace. In the future, I plan on
interviewing a few professional engineers as well as shadowing one in the workplace, in order to
complete the primary research for this project.
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Dr. Ken Bloemer and Dr. Li
10/19/17

Works Cited

Beer, David F., and David A. McMurrey. A guide to writing as an engineer. Wiley, 2014.

Crawford, Mark. How Engineers Can Improve Technical Writing. ASME.org, Sept. 2012,

www.asme.org/career-education/articles/business-writing/how-engineers-can-improve-

technical-writing.

Koelsch, James R. Is Writing an Essential Skill for Engineers. AutomationWorld,

AutomationWorld, 1 Dec. 2011, www.automationworld.com/article/automation-

strategies/industry-business/workforce/writing-essential-skill-engineers.

"Teaching Freshmen Engineering Communication." 2016 11Th European Workshop on

Microelectronics Education (EWME), Microelectronics Education (EWME), 2016 11Th

European Workshop on, 2016, p. 1. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1109/EWME.2016.7496464.

Winsor, Dorothy A. Engineering Writing/Writing Engineering. College Composition and

Communication, vol. 41, no. 1, 1990, pp. 5870. JSTOR, JSTOR,

www.jstor.org/stable/357883.