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Starting from the Bottom: The Foundation of Writing for Engineers

Although I chose to follow the path of engineering, I didn’t expect writing to be such a major component. Writing is an important part of communication, so there is no surprise why we, as engineers, have to be well-rounded writers. The ability to speak and write clearly will help us communicate our ideas, collaborate with others, and help us make it far in our careers. Just like in the real world, we were given more than one assignment at the same time with different due dates. As a result, we had to manage our time wisely and devise a schedule in order to complete the assignments on time. Throughout the course we had to write: an interview report, lab report, cover letter, resume, group proposal, and technical description. These assignments were made to help us develop our writing and presentation skills as engineers, and also helped us consider the audience and purpose specific to each assignment.

The interview report was a great assignment that demonstrated to us that networking is at our fingertips, internships are an opportunity away, and college is what we make the most out of it. During the report, I had to locate a mechanical engineer and was introduced to the different ways of networking. Whether it was through a family friend, Linked In, or even through the CCNY’s Alumni association I got to learn about the multiple ways of networking with others and how important networking is. In addition, one of the most enriching part of the project was getting the perspective of an already practicing professional in our desired field. By interviewing Donna Cendana, a mechanical engineer who works at NASA, I was given advice and also a perspective of a working mechanical engineer. The interview report introduced me to the importance of communication in the world by learning how much writing that engineers do at their jobs. Some of the skills that I acquired through the interview report was the ability to write professional emails and how to keep in contact with the people I meet. Overall, the interview report was a great way to expand our network by meeting someone from our individual majors and it was great in acquiring information from people already working in the field.

Everyone needs to know the basics in getting a job. When applying for a job you are usually asked to submit a cover letter and resume. A cover letter tells the employer about yourself, how you found the job posting, and why you would make a great addition to the company. A resume is a paper that tells the employer about your achievements, education, work experiences, and skills that you have to offer. When applying for a job we learned that is best to cater your cover letter and resume around the job posting, because nowadays computers try to match keywords from the job posting and most people who take a look a your resume look through it very quickly so it is important to make yourself stand out. By doing centering your cover letter and resume to the job posting, you are considering the audience and purpose in your writing. The purpose is to help yourself acquire a job and the audience are the people reading it so you want to make sure that it is neat, easy to read, and that there are no grammatical and spelling mistakes. Learning how to write a cover letter and resume was very beneficial to me as it helps brand yourself to the employer. You need to know how to market yourself in order for people to show interest in you and a good way in doing that is through your cover letter and resume.

For the lab report assignment we had to conduct an experiment and write about it. We had to follow a specific rubric that consisted of an abstract, introduction, materials & methods, results, analysis, research, conclusion, and references. The lab report was an excellent way for us to engage in the different types of writing that engineers produce. When conducting our experiment we had to write everything down in order to translate it into our results. I had handwritten results and also an Excel spreadsheet with the information as it is something that many engineers do as a part of their job. Another part of the assignment also involved us researching sources that could make our lab reports more credible.  One of the ways that we found credible sources and scholarly works was through the CCNY library databases which helped us with our information literacy. As a result, we also learned how to do APA style citations. The lab report assignment brought us out of our comfort zones as we were to consider the audience and purpose differently compared to other assignments. The audience for the lab report were fellow scientists and engineers so we had to take into consideration in the structure of our writing. The purpose of the lab report was also for people interested in the topic of dice probability. For example, they could take a look at our abstract and see if they would want to continue reading a get a good sense of what our lab was about.

Through the group proposal, we learned how to work in a team environment. We deciding on the members for the team by using Blackboard to learn about individuals in our class. Once the teams of four were made, each team had to find a problem worth solving at The City College of New York by drafting and writing a proposal. Through my own experience and my team, RMNT Inc, we had to find or rhythm. We had to learn even more about each other in order to devise a non-conflicting schedule. Although we were given a deadline, we collectively decided to make our own goals and objectives that we had to accomplished prior to the deadline in order to have time to revise our proposal. Another thing that we decided on as a group was to find more ways to collaborate with each other in order to make sure everything our deadlines were being met. As a result, we made a group chat, google docs, and google slides to work together for the proposal. In addition, we split the workload evenly by assigning individual roles. However, we still gave each other input and suggestions to strengthen the proposal despite having our own roles. Lastly, in the group presentation at the end of the assignment we articulated our proposal to the class by using a PowerPoint. Overall, it was a great experience to work within a team environment and make lasting friendships.

The technical description was one of the most challenging assignments for me, because there was a two page limit. This meant we had to be clear and concise when we were describing our topics. We also had to do some preliminary research for our topics. When researching our topics we had to find a topic that we were interested in and pertained to our major. Another component of the assignment was finding the right ratio between images and text so that we could retain the reader’s attention. Being creative also played a major role in our drafting process. I remember trying to find a way to demonstrate aerodynamics without boring the class and I came across the idea of using a paper airplane. I implemented the a paper airplane idea by making my technical description have instructions on how to make a airplane. Finally when I was presenting the technical description in class having a paper airplane on hand helped keep the audience’s attention and helped me explain the aerodynamics.

In addition to the assignments we completed throughout the semester there were also plenty of other things that we learned. We learned about punctuation, TPS, RFP, and how to be concise. When learning about punctuation we learned how to properly use commas, semicolons, and colons to help us become better writers. One of the most useful punctuation techniques to me was learning that you could use semicolons to separate items in a complex list like the Canadian Provinces. TPS, stands for title paginate, and staple at a 45 degree angle which is important when you hand in a paper to a teacher or even a paper to your boss. RFP was also a great acronym that meant request for proposal which is something actually used in the professional world. Learning how to be concise was also great because it helps you simplify what you’re saying without losing any meaning. It is important to be concise so that you are clear and easily understood. The two part title was also very important as it the title draws in the attention of the reader and the subtitle is a more literal description of the paper.

Writing for Engineering was a great class. I learned much more than I expected and I definitely see the results from the amount of time and effort I put into the course. Each assignment helped me mature as a writer as well as an engineer. From writing a cover letter and resume to writing a technical description I have seen my writing grow. I am grateful that I took the course because I now feel more prepared for the professional world. I hope to carry the skills that I learned throughout the course with me throughout the rest of my life.