Technical Communications

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Cross Jeffrey Scott 
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Syllabus updated
Lecture notes updated
Fall Semester

Outline of lecture

This course uses a task-based learning approach to teach technical communication skills to science and engineering graduate students. The classroom time is divided into lecture, group discussion on various topics including the lecture topic, and students' 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. There are 5 homework assignments to be completed and will be graded. 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 specifically for non-native English language speakers studying in science and engineering.

Plan of lecture

The classes will be divided into lecture, classroom discussion and students oral presentations. The
weekly topics are listed below.
1. Course introduction, hand-shake, sign-up & course questionnaire.
2. Writing letters of inquiry, e-mail requests, response, journal submittal etc.
3. Hearing skills drill and self-study approach to develop better hearing comprehension.
4. Writing a short research paper on your research theme for submittal to a journal or proposal for new students.
5. Preparing a resume, negotiation tactics, business skills and culture
6-7. How to prepare and give a technical oral (poster) presentation.
8. How to ask technical questions at conferences (basics of debate).
9. Technical oral poster presentation in class, with lecture presentation styles, gesture, body language
10. What is a patent and how to write patent claims.
11. Technical oral presentation on your own research topic (during class) for students with research results or new graduate students may present a research proposal.
12-14. Student Oral presentations in class for all students
15. Student oral presentations, course evaluation

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. In order to facilitate classroom discussions, a minimum English language proficiency is required such as TOEIC score of 600 points or higher. Students who do not meet this criteria will not be allowed to register for the class. For exceptions, please contact the instructor. Furthermore, the number of students permitted to take this class is limited to 20. If more than 20 students enroll in this class, class registration will be decided based upon English language ability with preference given to students that attend all classes.


80% based upon class participation, attendance(required), and homework; 20% class oral presentation
In addition, to pass this class all the homework assignments must be submitted.

Comments from lecturer

Familarity with using Microsoft PowerPoint 2007 or 2010 for oral presentations will be beneficial. The instructor has three overseas business trips on Oct. 11, Dec. 20, and Jan. 10 and will be unable to teach on these dates. Tentatively, these classes will be rescheduled to Feb. 7 from 9:00 - 12:00 and Feb. 14 at 9:00 - 10:30. Students who have decided their research topics and have experimental results will find this class informative.

Contact Information

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

Office Hours

After class or by appointment


The instructor has a standard American English accent.

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