This 20-hour course will provide an introduction to technical writing for fourth-year aerospace engineering university students. Through both online and face-to-face instruction, students will achieve learning outcomes based on rhetorical concepts, basic grammar, and technical writing conventions. By capitalizing on students’ intrinsic motivation of soon beginning journeys into careers which require the production of technical writing, students will engage with relevant content which will be read, discussed, analyzed, and utilized in performance-based assessments that simulate real world applications of technical writing. Performance-based assessment allows students to demonstrate their understanding of the constraints and conventions of their future jobs as related to written communication, and their ability to produce such writing within this specific domain.
The basic course progression will be from simpler communications such as emails and memos, to the creation and then incorporation of graphics and visualizations, and finally to more robust texts such as reports, instruction sets, and manuals. Students will make informed decisions about content with regard to audience and purpose, and have the opportunity to provide feedback of their peers’ work.
By the end of this course, students will be able to:
- Understand various purposes of technical writing and make informed decisions to ensure their document fulfills its purpose and its intended outcomes
- Identify an audience’s characteristics (level of expertise, demographics, goals, research expectations, etc.) and adapt writing to meet those specific needs, focusing on four basic categories of audience (expert, technician, executive, and non-specialist)
- Ensure that the content of their technical communications is organized to reflect consideration of purpose and audience
- Create communications with appropriate sociolinguistic attention to tone
- Produce sentences within technical documents with clarity, conciseness, and precision
- Utilize cohesive strategies for organizational purposes by providing a strong introduction to the document, transitions between sections (including topic sentences) and individual sentences, and echoing key words and phrases throughout
- Apply grammatical knowledge of voice (active vs. passive), parallelism, independent and dependent clauses, and modals for polite language within technical communications
- Employ MS Word and other technology to format documents for audience and purpose
- Create and incorporate various graphics and visuals with regard to format, placement, and appropriateness
- Recognize the need for citation and the definition of plagiarism, and include APA citations both in-text and at the end of documents
- Format documents with regard to readability, using headings and chunking with vertical lists if possible