MAKING CONNECTIONS IN TECHNICAL WRITING: LINKING INFORMATION GATHERING AND PROFESSIONAL CORRESPONDENCE WRITING FOR ENGINEERING STUDENTS
Khalifa University of Science and Technology (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
About this paper:
Conference name: 9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 3-5 July, 2017
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:Technical communication is a vital part of an engineering student’s education. Both the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) and the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) emphasize the necessity of good communication skills within their criteria standards. A technical communication course for engineering students needs to incorporate both writing and speaking skills of technical reports and presentations as well as technical or professional correspondence such as information request letters. Since making connections with other engineers from around the world is now a realistic possibility, engineering students must have the skills to adequately correspond using professional written conventions. The importance of information gathering is also an indispensable element of engineering education. 21st century engineers need to successfully search and retrieve information related to their specific field in a timely manner.
A set of tasks that combine information gathering skills and professional correspondence writing has been developed for undergraduate Engineering students in a Technical Communication course at a university in the United Arab Emirates. The tasks concentrate on initially obtaining information related to the student’s own specific engineering field of study. The first task focuses on searching for engineering-related research being carried out at a variety of universities, specifically emphasizing the websites of university-based research laboratories. A second information seeking task involves finding information from engineering or technology-related companies, particularly looking for information related to research and development within various companies. Students are then required in a follow-up task to write a business style information request letter to either a company or university researcher from the information gathered. Students are provided model business letters and the specific language tools necessary for appropriate writing conventions. The follow-up request letter provides an authentic application to tie into the engineering-related information gathering tasks.
Keywords: Information Literacy, Lifelong learning, Technical Communication, Engineering students.