Evolution of Technical Writing in Senior Design—A Case History


Seattle University has an industrially sponsored, yearlong, senior design program that has been in existence for more than 20 years. Students work in teams of three or four under the guidance of a liaison from the sponsoring agency and a faculty advisor. The students prepare a proposal in the fall quarter detailing their plan and a design report in spring quarter. Technical writing is an important component in the design program. For the past two decades the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering has partnered with the English Department faculty members and students, technical writers from industry, and engineering practitioners to improve the technical writing component. This paper discusses the evolution and implementation of the technical writing component within senior design, describes the experience and the lessons learned over the years. It also presents the assessment results and/or reflections by the various constituents. The experience shared should be helpful to other senior design programs.


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Nirmala Gnanapragasam
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Seattle University
Seattle, WA

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