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. http://www.ieeeusa.org/careers/webinars/2014/webinar-12-4-14.html
Category Archives: technical communication
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.
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.
|Information Overload: A Challenge to Professional Engineers and Technical Communicators. (eds: Strother, Ulijn, Fazal).|
|A Scientific Approach to Writing for Scientists and Engineers. (Berger).|
|Negotiating Cultural Encounters: Case Studies in Intercultural Engineering and Technical Communication. (eds. Yu and Savage).|
|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|
|Engineer Your Own Success: 7 Key Elements to Creating an Extraordinary Engineering Career. (Fasano).|
|International Virtual Teams: Engineering Global Success. (Pam Estes Brewer).|
|Communication Practices in Engineering, Manufacturing, and Research for Food and Water Safety . (Ed. David Wright).|
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:
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.
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.
Slide Rules: Design, Build, and Archive Presentations in the Engineering and Technical Fields–AVAILABLE!
In early March 2014, the paperback version of our book Slide Rules: Design, Build, and Archive Presentations in the Engineering and Technical Fields will be available for purchase. At the moment, the e-book is available for download.
Slide Rules is meant for engineers, technical specialists, and scientists–whether they are working for businesses, universities, research units, military sectors, or other areas. Professionals and students alike will benefit from this book because it provides specific avenues for improving and honing presentations in these specialized areas. Presentations in the technical fields are creatures of a different kinds, and the targeted needs for that work are duly addressed.
More info here:
As January 2014 closes out, I find myself with many new exciting opportunities on my plate. I began working with Cornell’s GameDesign Initiative this week, working with undergrads as they conceptualize, build, test, and deploy original games. I’ll be with the first class in the offerings:
I’ve also committed to working with Cornell’s ASCE teams, specifically with the Mead writing competition and with Concrete Canoe (CC). It’s nice to get back to CC, after leaving the teams at U of Wisconsin-Madison. There’s a strong CC tradition at Madison and I have missed being a small part of that. So, go Cornell!
Last month, I had the great pleasure of doing a big work travel/trip. It began with me taking some time to talk to Dr. Annette Markham at Aaruhus University in Denmark. Exploring the connections between internet theory, identity, and engineering communication, I was also able to think about ways that topics that I am interested in teaching could find a home in the euro way of providing information to students.
After that, it was on to Leuven, Belgium, where I attended the SEFI conference (the European Society for Engineering Education) with my colleague Christine Nicometo. We presented a talk called “Stop Slipping and Sliding: Methods to Reclaim Expert Engineering Space by Using Slides to Best Advantage” that was well received.
Another bonus was meeting up the the always-everywhere- Cheryl Ball. The four of us (Markham, Ball, Nicometo, and Nathans-Kelly) had two intense days of talk about everything from the silos of information exchange in academics to the politics of MLA to identity within and without institutions…to the various qualities of chocolate. Along the way, we spied the “Professor Hotel” in Leuven, which I hope to post up in a photo soon.
I had a lot to do at IPCC 2013 in Vancouver this year. One workshop, one info session about the IEEE Professional Communication series, and one paper to give with/for my colleagues at Cornell. Whew!
The workshop was with Christine Nicometo, and it focused on techniques to use when presentations and slides have to go in front of audiences who need more than one language. We had some great attendees, and we made some wonderful connections with new colleagues in Aarhus.
On the heels of that talk, Saul Carliner and I spoke about publishing with a PCS pub (he’s the editor in chief of the PCS journal; I do the book series). Since around 1999, I have enjoyed working with Saul, and that session was no different. It was a packed room, and we hope we sparked some interest in our pubs with that set of folks. I think we did!
Last, I gave a more traditional paper on a topic I’m working on with Rick Evans, examining the use of microgenres in engineering writing. Rick is teaching me so much about linguistics (I’ve forgotten the complicated nature of deep linguistic analysis of texts over the last 20 years). Some great conversations followed that talk, too.
But maybe best of all was having the unique opportunity to listen to Dr Bernard Amadei, the founder of Engineers Without Borders, USA. His story is incredible, and we all came away wanting to do more, to do better, with the talents that we have.
Vancouver was great, and the UBC campus was amazing. Thanks, all!
The new interactive online booklet for the Masters of Engineering in Professional Practice degree, offered by the U of Wisconsin-Madison, is now available. It came out beautifully! http://
My wonderful colleague, Christine Nicometo, and I have finished the manuscript for our book Slide Rules: Design, Build and Archive Presentations in the Engineering and Technical Fields. Whew! Now, we wait for industry and academic reviews before going to press. But the major push is over!