Sound Technology, Effective Communication
Technical Communication Program
Penn Engineering students are not just learning technical information, they are learning how to communicate that information to various technical and nontechnical audiences. In one class, they might write a lab report modeling the style of a journal article. In another, they may compose a project progress report in the form of a memo, or write a paper recommending a course of action based on research or lab results. For these assignments, students have the opportunity to review their writing with Technical Communication Program (TCP) Fellows. TCP Fellows are Penn Engineering undergraduates and master's students who are trained to mentor their fellow students in both writing and oral presentation skills. TCP Fellows logged over 660 hours in the spring semester of 2011 working with Penn Engineering students.
Penn Engineering began targeting technical communication directly in 2007, integrating direct instruction in technical writing with required sophomore and junior classes in each department. TCP works with instructors to ensure that students are exposed to good models of technical communication and receive practice in technical communication skills. TCP director Mary Westervelt collaborates with faculty to provide guidelines for writing assignments, rubrics for evaluation, and guidance for grading assignments. When a report requires use of published sources, TCP and the Penn Engineering library collaborate to help students locate appropriate sources and in include them in the text of the report. TCP offers two technical communication courses: EAS 500, Technical Communication in Engineering Practice, and EAS 510, Technical Communication for Non-Native Speakers of English.