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ME304: Engineering Communication

Unit 1: Setting the Stage   In technical communication, one usually has a specific purpose and a specific audience in mind.  The purpose and audience (in conjunction with the context in which the information will be presented, received, and used) help you determine the appropriate medium and genre of communication.  For example, consider the different modes or genres of writing that would be required of the following types of communication: an instruction manual for a complex piece of equipment aimed at a global audience, notification of a suggested part substitution in that piece of equipment for one of your immediate colleagues, a proposal to your supervisors for substantial modification of that piece of equipment, a summary of the results of that substitution after six months have passed, and documentation of safety compliance aimed at governmental regulatory agencies.  In all cases, identifying the purpose of the communication, the target audience, and its context with respect to other communications is crucial for success.

Unit 1 Time Advisory
This unit should take you 10 hours to complete.

☐    Subunits 1.1 - 1.2: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 1.3: 1 hours

☐    Subunit 1.4: 4 hours

☐    Subunit 1.5: 1 hours

☐    Subunit 1.6: 2 hours

☐    End of Unit Self-Assessment: 1 hour

Unit1 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to: - List attributes of technical communication. - Define the purpose of a specific technical communication. - Assess the audience and context for a specific technical communication. - Identify appropriate established genres appropriate for a situation

1.1 Why Study Engineering Communication?   - Web Media: Texas A&M; Writing Center’s “Dr. Robert Lane, Writing in Engineering”

Link: Texas A&M Writing Center’s “[Dr. Robert Lane, Writing in
Engineering](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNTBbvIq1C4)”
(YouTube)  
    
 Instructions: View the video (10 minutes) and/or read the
transcript in which Dr. Robert Lane is interviewed on writing and
communication in the field of engineering.  What does the speaker
see as one of the prime motivators for excelling at technical
communication?  
    
 Terms of Use: This video is licensed under a [Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported
License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/). It is
attributed to The University Writing Center, Texas A&M University.
The original version can be found
[here](http://writingcenter.tamu.edu/2010/podcasts/write-right/dr-robert-lane-writing-in-engineering/).

1.2 A Definition of Technical Communication   - Reading: Andrea Beaudin’s notes on Britton’s “What Is Technical Writing?”

Link: Andrea Beaudin’s notes on “Britton’s [*What Is Technical
Writing?*](http://www.saylor.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/ME304-1.2.pdf)”
(PDF)  
    
 Instructions: This link provides one reader’s condensed notes on a
vintage publication concerning the definition of technical writing. 
Please read and study the notes (1 page).  Then, attempt to write a
one to two sentence definition of technical writing or communication
as you see it.  Is it imperative to define technical writing or
engineering communication in order to make use of something
resembling it?  
    
 Terms of Use: The material above has been reposted with permission
for educational use by Andrea L Beaudin.  It can be viewed in its
original
form [here](http://www.abeaudin.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=32:britton-qwhat-is-technical-writingq&catid=7:annotated-bibliography&Itemid=5:).

1.3 Purposes   - Reading: Purdue University Online Writing Lab’s (OWL) “The Rhetorical Situation”

Link: Purdue University Online Writing Lab’s (OWL) “[The Rhetorical
Situation](http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/625/01/)”
(HTML)  
    
 Instructions: Read the page and view the slides. To access the
PowerPoint slideshow, click on the hyperlink Media File: “The
Rhetorical Situation” below the webpage’s title.  Try to define
rhetoric in your own words.  Then, list more than three types of
purposes that an author or speaker might have for technical
communication.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

1.4 Audience   - Reading: Texas A&M; Writing Center’s “Audience Awareness”

Link: Texas A&M Writing Center’s “[Audience
Awareness](http://writingcenter.tamu.edu/2005/composing-process/brainstorming-prewriting/audience-analysis/)”
(PDF)  
    
 Instructions: Read the webpage in its entirety.  Select an
introductory paragraph from one of your engineering courses, one
from an entertainment news website, one from a financial news
website, and one from an engineering website. Compare the style of
the introductions for each of these cases.  Is it obvious from the
introductions that the paragraphs are aimed at different
audiences?  
    
 Terms of Use: This work is is licensed under a [Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported
License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).  It is
attributed to The University Writing Center, Texas A&M University
and the original version can be found
[here](http://writingcenter.tamu.edu/2005/composing-process/brainstorming-prewriting/audience-analysis/).
  • Reading: Pennsylvania State University: Leonhard Center’s “Assessing the Audience”

    Link: Pennsylvania State University: Leonhard Center’s “Assessing the Audience” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Read the first section “Assessing the Audience.”  List two ways in which audiences differ.
     
    Terms of Use: The linked material above has been reposted by the kind permission of Michael Alley, and can be viewed in its original form here.  Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder. 

1.5 Context   - Reading: Purdue University Online Writing Lab’s (OWL) “The Rhetorical Situation: Context, Environment, Setting”

Link: Purdue University Online Writing Lab’s (OWL) “[The Rhetorical
Situation: Context, Environment,
Setting](http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/625/03/)”
(HTML)  
    
 Instructions: Read the webpage and try to re-define or revise your
definition of rhetoric.  Which aspects of context listed on this
page are most obviously applicable to the description of technical
writing?  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

1.6 Wheat Mode of Communication Best Suits Purpose, Audience, and Context?   - Reading: Duke University’s Thompson Writing Program: “Genres of Writing”

Link: Duke University’s Thompson Writing Program: “[Genres of
Writing](http://twp.duke.edu/writing-studio/resources/genres-of-writing)”
(HTML, PDF)  
    
 Instructions: Read the list (by no means exhaustive) genres and
make note of those which might be useful in the context of technical
communication. You may explore each of those genres further by
following appropriate links on the page.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Pennsylvania State University: Leonhard Center’s “Writing Guidelines for Engineering and Science Students”

    Link: Pennsylvania State University: Leonhard Center’s “Writing Guidelines for Engineering and Science Students” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Read the list of technical writing genres or document types on this webpage.  The genre is a convention of format, style, content, and organization that the author and audience agree upon and that hence facilitates communication.  You will refer to this material in detail in Unit 4.  In particular, you may find it convenient to peruse a few of the genres in more detail, such as the Memo, Resume, and Laboratory Report before moving on to Unit 2. 
     
    Terms of Use: The linked material above has been reposted by the kind permission of Michael Alley, and can be viewed in its original form here.  Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder. 

Unit 1 Assessment   - Assessment: The Saylor Foundation’s “ME304: Unit 1 Quiz”

Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “[ME304: Unit 1
Quiz](http://school.saylor.org/mod/quiz/view.php?id=911)” (HTML)  
    
 Instructions: Please complete the linked assessment.  
    
 You must be logged into your Saylor Foundation School account in
order to access this exam.  If you do not yet have an account, you
will be able to create one, free of charge, after clicking the
link.