Introduction to Technical Communication: What is it?
Most of you are undoubtedly skeptical about the amount of writing that will be required of you after you graduate. When asked, first-year engineering students often respond that they expect never to write on the job. However, you can expect to spend at least 40% of your working lives communicating your ideas in writing. As you climb the corporate ladder, the amount of writing you do will only increase. If you are a poor writer, you may be asked to write less frequently, but you are not likely to rise through the ranks either. So, like it or not, you will have to master the fundamentals of technical writing to succeed in your career.
What is technical writing? It is the literature of science, technology, and systems development. It is clear, concise, and objective with a low level of abstraction.1 The primary goal of the technical writer is to convey information accurately. We have incorporated a writing component into EG1004 in order to help you prepare for your future.
Technical presentations will also be a common requirement of your jobs as engineers. You will frequently be asked to deliver progress reports, report on the status of new products, compile trip reports, or explain projects in development. Sometimes, these reports will be impromptu, but more commonly, you will be asked to prepare a formal presentation.
Engineers often use presentation software to help them perform this task. The best technical presenters recognize that PowerPoint and packages like it are essential tools, but that they are no substitute for a fundamentally sound presentation built on the principles public speakers have always relied on. In addition to your writing, EG also requires you to make numerous presentations to help you become familiar with this task.
1 Black, G., and Bly, R.W., The Elements of Technical Writing. New York: Longman, 1993