Technical Communications

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Cross Jeffrey Scott 
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Syllabus updated
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Fall Semester

Outline of lecture

This course uses a task-based learning approach to teach technical communications to engineering graduate students. The classroom time is divided into lecture, group discussion on various topics or tasks for reinforcement of the lecture topic, and student's oral presentations on their research topics. The tasks covered in the course consist of e-mail communication, writing a business letter, writing a research paper and abstract for a conference, and giving an oral technical presentation. In addition, an introduction to patents and patenting is also covered. This course focuses on teaching non-native speakers of English both written and oral technical communication skills.

Purpose of lecture

To teach basic technical English communication skills (written and oral) needed for research activities at the graduate student level for non-native English language speaking speakers.

Plan of lecture

1. Course introduction, hand-shake, sign-up & questionnaire.
2. Hearing skills drill and self-study approach to develop better hearing comprehension and GTEC.
3. Writing a short research paper on your research theme for submittal to a journal.
4. What is a patent and how to write a patent.
5. How to ask technical questions at conferences (basics of debate).
6. Writing letters of inquiry, e-mail requests, response, journal submittal etc.
7. Preparing a resume and basics of negotiations.
8. How to prepare and give a technical oral (poster) presentation.
9. Technical oral presentation on your own research topic (during class) for students with research results or new graduate students may present a research proposal with prior approval.
10. Other items: gesture, body language, GTEC on-line English comprehension exam, etc.

Textbook and reference

Course materials covered in class will be uploaded to OCW-i after each lecture for further study.
Textbook (optional)
"Technical Writing and Professional Communication for Nonnative Speakers of English," 2nd Ed. Thomas N. Huckin, McGraw-Hill, 2001, ISBN 0071126422

Related and/or prerequisite courses

All lectures, classroom discussions and homework are in English. Familarity with using Microsoft PowerPoint 2007 for oral presentations will be beneficial.


80% class participation, attendance(required), and homework; 20% class oral presentation

Comments from lecturer

This same course is registered in OCW as "Communication in Science and Technology", code:34018 in both graduate Applied Chemistry and Mechanical Engineering departments in the course catalogue but has been changed to common wide-area course. However, the number of students permitted to take this class is limited to 20, in order to allow for sufficient time for in-class oral presentations and classroom discussion.

Contact Information

For inquiries contact Jeffrey Cross by e-mail at cross.j.aaツシ

Office Hours

After class or by appointment

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