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Category Archives: technical communication

IPCC 2013, a smashing success!

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!

 

MEPP interactive booklet is available!

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://

nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/uwm/mepp2012Screen Shot 2013-04-12 at 10.13.29 AM

 

the manuscript is in!

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!

bookSR

 

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. http://www.researchgate.net/topic/Theory_of_e-Learning/

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 streamingmedia.com–it’s called KnowledgeVision, and it shows much promise for some of the mose basic delivery needs. http://www.knowledgevision.com/

 

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.

Rankings:

#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"

Link: http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2011/11/28/the-art-of-not-drowning/