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Writing in 25100

You will have to do a moderate amount of writing in 25100, and it is important for you to take it seriously. I won't grade your grammar or spelling, but I will pay attention to the quality of your writing. This is very much like what will happen to you in "real life." Once you graduate, no one will give you grades or corrections. They will simply incorporate their impressions of your writing into their opinions of you as a colleague, employee, etc. Consider the following all-to-common scenario.

John Q. Engineer picks up his phone at 10 AM one Monday morning; the voice on the other end is that of his boss. She says "John, the new VP for R&D wants me and the 3 other design group leaders to give him a summary of our projects Wednesday morning. I need you to summarize what you have accomplished over the last 6 months, and estimate when your project will be completed. I think one of the other group leaders has been bugging him to give them way more time on the big wind tunnel, so you may loose half your time if it isn't clear that we have been getting a lot out of it, and also that we still need it. I need your report by this time tomorrow. Bye."

What happens next depends on John. He needs to write quickly, clearly, and accurately. The boss has a lot to do and not much time; she needs to put together reports from John and several of his colleagues, along with her own work, so she would really like to just cut and paste what he wrote into her summary document. If his writing is hard to use, or if it full of mistakes so she has to edit it rather than just cutting and pasting, she will not be happy. She won't send him grades or corrections, she will just remember that she was unhappy with his work. If his report is incomplete, she might call again and ask for extra stuff, but by then it will be too late. John will be on her mental list of "People Who Give Me a Pain." On the other hand, some other engineer down the hall who did a better job writing up his work will wind up on the Boss's mental list of "People I Can Count On."

Guess who gets the bigger raise next year, and the bigger bonus? If the group has to downsize, guess who winds up checking every night?

In all of the writing you do in this class, I ask that you remember John. Let's imagine a few more specifics:

John's Boss

Name: Emma Cleary
Age: 56
Education: BS in Electrical Engineering from Purdue, West Lafayette, 1970.
MBA focusing on technical management, IU School of Business, 1985.
Experience: After working as an engineer at Raytheon for 7 years, Ms. Cleary took several years off to start a family. Once her youngest child was in first grade, she returned to school and earned her MBA. She is now in technical management for a major company in the aerospace industry.
Skills: Her engineering skills are a bit rusty. She knows the difference between energy and power, but she doesn't pretend to be an expert on the details of the work her group does. However, she is smart, a good judge of people, and she understands the broad technical issues that drive the aerospace industry.
Attitude:She is a good manager, and enjoys her work. Whowever, she is still a bit insecure about reentering the workforce, particularly as a woman managing mostly male engineers. She does not like to be talked down to, but she also doesn't like being forced to stop people to ask questions too often. If she asks you a question, it is important to explain clearly, but without using technical jargon and equations.

When you write in 25100, you should write as if you were John, trying to explain to "The Boss."

One more thing. There is nothing that annoys the boss more than plagiarism. If you want to quote someone else's work in your writing, that is fine, but you must make it completely clear that you are doing so. If you use someone elses words, you must state whose words they are, and explain where you found them.

This site is made possible by funding from the National Science Foundation (DUE-9981111).

©2012 A. Gavrin, all rights reserved.