UH Cullen College of Engineering
Spring 2005    Features By Brian Allen 



Technical Communication Center Better Prepares Students for the Workplace


Chad Wilson
Professor Chad Wilson teaches communications skills to engineering undergraduates.

The Engineering Technical Communications Center, under the direction of professor Chad Wilson, opened last fall in conjunction with a new technical communications course (ENGI 2304). The new course was developed with the help of the UH Writing Center to enable all engineering graduates to communicate effectively in the workplace.

“Engineering graduates will spend 40 to 60 percent of their time doing written or oral communication,” said Wilson.

ENGI 2304 expands on information students get from the core curriculum requirements of Communications 1 and 2 (ENGL 1303 and 1304) and concentrates on writing for engineers. In this technical communications class, which is limited to 20 students per class, students learn various types of engineering writing. Also included in the curriculum are lessons on oral and group presentations.

This course is only part of the department-wide effort to further integrate writing into the curriculum. This course is already a requirement for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering has made it a requirement for students entering Fall 2005. Wilson said it is expected that the rest of the departments will add the course as a requirement, especially now that it is under the university’s new core curriculum, ENGI 2304, which fulfills the writing
intensive requirement.

In previous semesters, the college has used the Capstone Design course to introduce writing as the last course for graduating seniors through the Writing Center’s workshops.

“We have the opportunity to enhance communications skills before students enter the workforce,” said Paul Ruchhoeft (1998 MSEE, 2000 PhD EE), assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering.
“We’re focusing on teaching students the connection between solving problems and the communication process—students who can communicate clearly tend to do better with their projects.”

Currently, the Technical Communications Center is in the process of identifying required courses in each engineering degree program that will make use of the writing instruction and the Writing Center’s writing consultants. Wilson said that while the Capstone Design course is beneficial for students, “the idea is to weave communication throughout the curriculum.”

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