My longtime friend and collaborator, Michael Alley, has launched a new online initiative to promote the assertion-evidence model for presentation slide design for the technical fields. Christine Nicometo and I are honored to be part of his unfailing efforts to help engineers and technical experts present their work in its best light.  See the growing resources at !

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Posted by on October 13, 2016 in Uncategorized


Engineering Presentations download available through IEEE-USA

A while back, I was honored to do a webinar for IEEE USA about how to make engineering presentations better.  If you are interested in accessing that free information, use this link.  You will need to use a WebEx player to see it, but the site provides that for you as a link/download.


Blast from the past

In 1999, I was teaching at the University of Minnesota, Crookston.  It was a great time to be there because it was *the* first laptop campus in the nation, aided by IBM.  Each student had a laptop issued to them, and we were all required to use the web and the laptop technology in class.

I was teaching literature there, and I was puzzled how to make the pedagogy fit with the technology, because just looking stuff up on the internet back then was silly (not a lot of content) and boring.  Instead, I had an idea to send students out into the community to capture the stories of the elders, transcribe them, and “frame” them as  a digital telling for the whole world to see.  We did so, we got the permission slips from each elder, and we crunched out HTML pages for each project. Mind you, there were no real website editors back then; this was handcoding.  The students struggled and made smart decisions about the stories to tell, dealing with quotes, how to represent the often heavy accent of the elders, and how  and when to incorporate photos and/or video.

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 3.37.53 PMSo, if you want to see some old-time classroom work, look to Kairos!  That student project was highlighted there and is still “live” because of Kairos’ dedication to keeping their digital files alive.

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Posted by on July 26, 2016 in Uncategorized


A nice way to be recognized

These past few months, Wiley Publishing has been promoting a “Women in Engineering” site that highlights how women are contributing to the many facets of engineering work. When I was first approached, I wasn’t sure if I was a good fit, as I’m not an engineer, per se. Rather, I support the communication work that engineers do.  But the sponsors of the project would not be deterred, and they wanted me on their list.

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So, I’m very happy to share that wonderful effort here.  The specific piece with my story can be downloaded from that page or here. nathans-kelly_wiley-WiEpage 2


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Professional Engineering Communication series by Wiley-IEEE Press is growing again!

I happy to announce the SEVENTH book in the Professional Engineering Communication series is now available. As the editor of this series, I’m proud to work with these professionals to bring their vision to fruition.

9781118230138_cover.indd Information Overload: A Challenge to Professional Engineers and Technical Communicators. (eds: Strother, Ulijn, Fazal).
1118832523 A Scientific Approach to Writing for Scientists and Engineers. (Berger).
9781118061619_cover.indd Negotiating Cultural Encounters: Case Studies in Intercultural Engineering and Technical Communication. (eds. Yu and Savage).
9781118002964.pdf Slide Rules: Design, Build, and Archive Presentations in Engineering and Technical Fields.  (Nathans-Kelly, Nicometo). See an excerpted principle from Slides Rules on this page on slide titles
9781118659649.pdf Engineer Your Own Success: 7 Key Elements to Creating an Extraordinary Engineering Career. (Fasano).
1118339002 International Virtual Teams: Engineering Global Success. (Pam Estes Brewer).
111827427X Communication Practices in Engineering, Manufacturing, and Research for Food and Water Safety . (Ed. David Wright).

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Former MEPP/MEM student recieves one of the nation’s highest awards!

It’s always good to see someone shoot right to the top. The hard work and deep commitment pays off!

A former cohort member in the Masters of Engineering Professional Practice (now Masters of Engineering Management) at the Unviersity of Wisconsin-Madison, Commander David Englestad has been awarded Engineer of the Year by the US Dept of the Interior. Well done, David!  All of us from the UW-Madison campus congratulate you!

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Posted by on April 30, 2015 in Uncategorized


Upside down ethics: Messing with data visualization

A few months ago, an engineering student pointed this graphic out to me. It reveals numbers associated with Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. Now, politics aside (but I think this law is a cesspool of privilege shining through), the graphic is what is of interest for this post. Figure 1 shows how it appeared originally:

Figure 1. This original data configuration is wrong on form and mistaken in intent.

By reversing the usual y-axis with a start at 0 (bottom left), this graph has the bottom left as the counted starting point, with 0 at the top of the y-axis, which is completely against all graph-making convention. Over the years, I have seen quite a few crazy graphs, but this one takes the cake. It is an intentional reversal of information, made to lead readers to believe that the “Stand Your Ground” law contributed to a decrease in gun deaths in Florida. The intent of this visual foolery is clear and makes data political by its very reversal of familiar form/visualization.

A reader of Business Insider, P.A. Fedewa, was kind enough to revise this graph, using all of the same numbers, with the y-axis starting at the normalized bottom left, 0 (seee Figure 2). This format, widely used and universally taught, creates a graph that is familiar in form. Figure 2--This visual format adheres to traditional visual formats, allowing it to be more clear quickly.

Now, of course, one could argue that this format is equally political…and so it may be. However, the deceit in its visual execution isn’t intention. If there is deceit, it has not been housed in the form of the visualization itself. The numbers are still the numbers. The data still holds true, and the data is provided by familiar visualization that doesn’t take any amount of studying to unpack. By any and all codes of ethics, the original graph fails.