Category Archives: engineering communication

A working life divided is…divine

As of this fall, I have accepted a position at Cornell University in its Engineering Communications Program. We have made the move to Ithaca, and I am settling in quite well.  The teaching approach here is a great fit for me, as I have made moves in the recent years to teach engineering/technical writing using teams in the communication classroom.  At Cornell, this approach is par for the course, and so I feel a great deal of collegiality in this regard.

I also have the great fortune to stay on with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, too, in my capacity as faculty member teaching in the Masters of Engineering of Professional Practice and Masters of Engineering in Engine Systems programs. Both of these programs are online programs, and we meet once a summer F2F for residency. My director, Wayne Pferdehirt, has been incredibly supportive as I make this professional adjustment. As well, the unending support of my colleague Christine Nicometo has been the source of great inspiration during my transition.

And, if that’s not enough, Christine Nicometo and I continue our work with Iron Range Engineering, a new engineering degree currently going through its first ABET visit. We wish them the best of luck, but we know they won’t need it. The program is strong as is their documentation. Our job is to bring the elements of engineering communication to the program, and we do this with campus visits and distance teaching.

Well…that’s enough, isn’t it?


Theories of e-Learning

After joining the social networking service ResearchGate (like facebook for technical researchers), they are posting a “Theories of e-Learning” string.

As an instructor in the Masters of Engineering Professional Practice degree (online), when I read these kinds of strings, I know that I have been very fortunate to be thoroughly embedded inside such a great online degree program.  The biggest detracting element for any online program, I think, is getting instructors to create an engaging atmosphere.  It does take more than parking a video camera a the back of the room and capturing a lecture (which we rarely do).  Reconfiguring the learning for e-versions is a complete re-do, most often, and it requires constant upkeep.

I was also reminded in the last few days of an old experiment at the U of Wisconsin called “e-Teach.” A similar product is now being used by my hushand for–it’s called KnowledgeVision, and it shows much promise for some of the mose basic delivery needs.


U of Wisconsin-Madison’s Online Masters of Engineering programs earn top ratings!

online engineering programs, graduate, engineering management, degree

The online graduate programs at the U of Wisconsin-Madison offer targeted, work-related, applicable learning for rising engineers, especially those going into engineering management.

Yesterday, US News and World Report released its rankings for the top online graduate engineering program. University of Wisconsin’s Online Masters of Engineering programs placed first in two categories and fifth in another!

In the Masters of Engineering of Professional Practice (which is often called an “engineering management” degree, I teach Communicating Technical Information with my colleague Christine Nicometo.  In the Masters of Engineering in Engine Systems, I alternate years teaching presentations skills within that degree with Nicometo.


#1: Student Engagement and Accreditation

#1: Student Services and Technology

#5: Faculty Credential and Training


The Art of Airline Safety Brochures

When I started teaching in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Technical Communication program, my then-Director, Gisela Kutzbach, gave me her stash of airline safety brochures. She passed them on to me when I began teaching the User Manuals class (which I *love* to teach!), and I have used them ever since as a way to start discussions about visual noise, instructions without words,  representations of people, and other issues. I think I have a fascination about this simply because my dear uncle passed away in an awful plane crash, and the brochures resonate with me in an odd way now.

Today, my colleague Christine Nicometo passed on a link to a story that takes on these issues, too. Recently published in the Paris Review, I read this article with rapt attention. The article is entitled “In the Unlikely Event” and is written by Avi Steinberg.

See what you think.

Image borrowed from article "In the Unlikely Event"



Dance your science

Dance your PhD. An intriguing look at how complex information might be better visualized.

I am entranced today by the TEDx talk by John Bohannon, supported with dancers from the Black Label Movement. He argues rather well that science, technology, and almost any complex idea could be better visualized with dance rather than PowerPoint.  Watch this.  It’s worth your time.


Technical Communication spotlight in Wisconsin Engineer Magazine

See more about the Technical Communication Certificate at

The Technical Communication Certificate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison was highlighted in this month’s Wisconsin Engineer Magazine, the oldest student engineering magazine in the nation. The article, written by Austin Kaiser, addresses the very real need that engineers have to be good communicators in their fields of work.


UW’s College of Engineering’s Annual Report

This year, the College of Engineering has an incredible amount of wonderful, exciting, and interesting stories to tell. There is a beautiful promo on the UW COE’s YouTube channel.

I’m most excited to see our Technical Communication‘s own Jayme Udvare in a starring role!

Jayme Udvare, a Technical Communication Certificate student, makes the news in this year's College of Engineering Annual Report.

Jayme Udvare, a Technical Communication Certificate student, makes the news in this year's College of Engineering Annual Report.

See the full Annual Report, full of grand news.


Workshopping at Iron Range Engineering

Iron Range Engineering, Ron Ulseth

Iron Range Engineering, Ron Ulseth.

For the last two full days, Christine Nicometo and I have had the happy privilege to be guest lecturers at Iron Range Engineering in northeast Minnesota. We were able to cover technical writing genres, technical reports, technical writing, technical presentations, posters, and job search materials. It was intense, and it was an amazing two days.  We are fortunate to be a small part of a big, new, innovative model for engineering teaching and learning.

Our host, Ron Ulseth, recently gave a TedX talk.  .  Learn more about this completely new way to think about engineering education.


MEPP (Masters of Engineering Professional Practice) Celebrates 10 years!

Masters of Engineering Professional Practice, University of Wisconsin

Masters of Engineering Professional Practice, University of Wisconsin

I am proud to be a faculty member of MEPP, and the degree is celebrating its 10th Anniversary this fall.  MEPP is a combination of an MBA and Engineering, designed to foster professional development for the engineering manager and leader.  MEPP degree holders are amazing and hail from every corner of the industry and many countries around the world.


Teams Launch using CATME

Today, we launched teams in EPD 397: Technical Communication.  I am using the CATME teams software (free and wonderful) for use in assessments of teams for the semester. This software is incredible; it makes the teams for me, groups them, surveys them on progress and work, provides stats, allows for comments from students, and allows me to pull information that is ABET-worthy. Anyone using teams for undergrad or grad academic work (engineering or otherwise) should look into this.