EGR 3350 Technical Writing Schedule

EGR 3350 Technical Writing Schedule

 Week One: May 9, 2016


  • Introduction to technical writing,
  • Plagiarism,
  • Ethics
  • Documentation

Do the following by midnight Thursday, May 12, 2016

  • Email me immediately as soon as you join the class
  • Read the syllabus thoroughly, and email me with any questions you might have
  • Read chapter 1 in the text, “Introduction”
    • Pay particular attention to the five characteristics of technical writing on pages 7-8
    • Review the PowerPoint, “5 Tenets of Technical Writing”
    • Read “Technical Writing Sample from the British Navy” and look for any violation of the 5 Tenets of Technical Writing (make notes for yourself for discussion topic)
    • Read this article about technical writing and airline toilets:
    • Once you complete all the above readings, post a 250 word response in Discussions to the “Technical Writing” thread:
      • Define “Technical Writing”
      • Point out any violation of the 5 Tenets of Technical Writing in the British Navy article
      • Describe qualities of effective technical communication
      • Respond to the article about airline toilets by sharing your reaction to it
    • Read chapter 2 in the text, “Ethical Considerations”
    • Do the Plagiarism exercises: Situation 1 and Situation 2 in the text on pages 20-21
      • Post your responses to each one in the “Ethics” thread
    • Print, read, sign, scan, and upload the Acknowledgment of Course Policies, which is located under “Basic Class Documents,” into Dropbox
      • WARNING: You MUST upload the signed Acknowledgment of Course Policies document in order for me to grade any of your upcoming assignments
    • Introduce yourself in the “Introduction” thread
    • Read chapter 14 in the text, “Documentation,” and look at the APA information in the Owl Purdue cite, which is located under “Basic Class Documents”; we will be using APA for this class, which means you need to familiarize yourself with how to do APA in-text citation as well as create a Reference page correctly. Chapter 14 has good information about documenting sources, but do not follow the documentation type in that chapter. Use APA! We will be revisiting this issue throughout the semester


IMPORTANT NOTE: Please note that this class requires quality writing.  You must post only well-written, carefully edited responses to the Discussion threads and other course communication (including emails to me).  Use proper capitalization, spelling, grammar, and punctuation.  Organize your thoughts using paragraphs and/or lists.  You will not receive credit for poorly written posts or documents that have numerous errors.

Also, you must do the entire requirement(s) for each posting. A partial posting will not be counted.

Week Two: May 16, 2016


  • Technical definition; the formula for Technical Definition is as follows:

(Qualifier) + Term = Classification + Differentiation

  • Introduction to Mechanism Description (MD)
  • Grammar Review
  • Visuals


Do the following by midnight Thursday, May 19, 2016

  • Read chapter 3 in your text, “Technical Definition”
    • Read the “Technical Definition” PowerPoint (make sure you download all the PowerPoint presentations; opening them in just the viewer pane might not allow you to see all the information)
    • Read the “Mechanism Description” PowerPoint
    • Read the “Common MD Errors” PowerPoint
    • Go to the “Technical Definition” thread in Discussions and post one technical definition for one of the following terms: mouse, paper clip, keyboard, bicycle, laptop, screwdriver, or coffee maker. Then include two extensions (pages 30-32) and identify the type of extensions you have used
  • Read chapter 4; pay attention to the Outline 4.1 on pages 38-39 and the Developed Example 4.1 on pages 40-45, which gives exact instructions for the Mechanism Description assignment; notice the repetition of the technical definition!
  • Read the “MD Common Errors” PowerPoint
  • Look at the MD Tasking Sheet
  • Look at the MD example
  • Answer the following questions for the “Mechanism Description” topic in Discussions:
    • What specific mechanism will you writer your paper about? (Criteria: it must be related to your major, have 2-4 parts, and be very specific and very simple mechanism)
    • How many parts does it have?
    • How is it related to your major?

NOTE: Make sure your answers are clear, concise, and numbered to correspond to the numbers listed above; also, be very specific about your mechanism: NOT “printer” BUT instead “HP laser printer”


Week Three: May 23, 2016

Do the following by midnight Thursday, May 26, 2016

  • Work on Mechanism Description
  • Read chapter 13, “Grammar, Style, and Punctuation”
    • Look at the numerous grammar and punctuation PowerPoints I have uploaded in Week Three in Pilot; if you are interested in doing any worksheets for any issues, let me know and I will send them to you as well as the answers
  • Read chapter 15, “Visuals,” familiarizing yourself with how to insert and label visuals properly
  • Do exercise on pages 56-57 (applying checklist to Finkel BOAT MD) and respond with answers in Discussion topic, “MD Exercise”


Week Four: May 31, 2015 (Take off Memorial Day)

Topic: Introduction to Process Description (PD)

  • MD Due in Dropbox by noon Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Do the following by midnight Thursday, June 2, 2016

  • Read chapter 5 in your text, “Description of a Process”
  • COMMENTS: Be careful that you don’t confuse a process description with a set of instructions. A process description explains what is happening while a set of instructions explains how to do something.
    • Do not use “you” or an implied “you” in process descriptions
    • Do not use 1st person pronouns either, such as “we”
  • Read the “Process Description” PowerPoint
  • Read the “PD Common Errors” PowerPoint
  • Look at the PD tasking sheet
  • Look at the PD example
  • Respond to the Discussion topic, “Process Description”
    • What specific process will you write your paper about?
    • What are the parts of the process?
    • How is it related to your major?


Week Five: June 6, 2016


  • Feasibility and recommendation reports
  • Research strategies

Do the following by midnight Thursday, June 9, 2016

  • Read chapter 8, “Feasibility and Recommendation Reports”
  • Read the “Feasibility and Recommendation” PowerPoint
  • Look at the Feasibility report tasking sheet
  • Look at the Recommendation report example
  • Respond to the prompts below for the “Feasibility and Recommendation Report” topic in Discussions:
    • What is your topic?
    • Are you planning on writing a Feasibility Report or a Recommendation Report?
    • Briefly describe the problem in 1-2 sentences.
    • List the criteria you plan to use to evaluate the candidate solutions
    • List the candidate solution(s)
    • List at least one source that provides the type of data you need to make the evaluation
    • How does your problem directly relate to your major?
  • COMMENTS: You will definitely need to do some research for this report in a stronger way then the earlier assignments. Because you will most likely use numerical data, you will need to research the technical specifications for most candidate solutions as well as possibly pricing issues. You need to provide a complete URL and the date you accessed the information in your References page.


Week Six: June 13, 2016


  • Laboratory and project reports
  • Instructions and manuals
  • Progress reports
  • Historical research reports
  • State-of-the-art research reports
  • PD Due in Dropbox by 5:00 pm Thursday, June 16, 2016


Do the following by midnight Thursday, June 16, 2016

  • Read chapter 7 in your text, “Progress Reports”
  • Read chapter 9 in your text, “Laboratory and Project Reports”
  • Read chapter 10 in your text, “Instructions and Manuals”
  • Read chapter 11 in your text, “Research Reports”
  • Work on your FEAS RPT
  • Make sure you read the chapters; I might just give you a pop quiz J


Week Seven: June 20, 2016


  • Proposals
  • Proposal assignment
  • Annotated bibliographies
  • Annotated bibliography assignment
  • Formal Report assignment


Do the following by midnight Thursday, June 23, 2016

  • Read the “Proposal Writing 101” PowerPoint
  • Read the Word document on “Proposal Terminology”
  • Read the tasking sheet for the Proposal Assignment (the Annotated Bibliography is part of the assignment)
  • Look at the example of the Proposal Assignment
  • Read the tasking sheet for the Formal Report
  • Read the Word document on “Report Types”
  • Look at the two examples of Formal Reports


COMMENTS: The last four assignments (proposal, annotated bibliography, formal report, and presentation) are all related to each other. You need to pick a topic that you are interested in! That is key. The proposal outlines your topic and research strategy for your formal paper; the annotated bibliography helps you find good sources for your formal paper; the formal paper is worth 35% of your grade, so it is very important that you spend some time on it; the presentation is a brief overview of your formal report topic. You will upload the presentation (I will tell you how to use voice on PowerPoint; you do not have to have a visual presentation).


Concerning the annotated bibliography, you must use good sources, which do not include popular magazines and/or things like Wikipedia, etc. I expect you to use sources that people in your field of study would use on the job. When in doubt, contact Phil Flynn in the library for further help on sources. We will keep revisiting topic of research/sources through the rest of the semester.


My understanding is that most students find the Historical Research report and the State-of-the=Art Research report to be the easiest types of reports to write. All you really need to do is research a technical topic that you find interesting and synthesize the information into a report. You do NOT need a thesis statement or an argument to support. These types of reports are strictly informational. Here is some further information on these two types of reports (from Brandy Foster):




If the line represents the continuum of time, then points A and B represent a specific span of time in the past that you define as it makes sense for your topic.  For example, that span can be a few thousand years if you’re writing about cyphers and start with Caesar’s cypher.  Or, that span can be only the 5 years during WWII when radar technology was developed and rapidly evolved.  You get to determine the span, so you should keep in mind that larger spans will require much broader information, and shorter spans will require you to discuss your topic in more specific depth.  Anything occurring before A and after B are beyond the scope of your report.  The Historical Research Report is excellent for discussing the evolution of a technology.






If the line represents the continuum of time, then point A represents the present or very recent past (less than 10 years), and the arrow represents the future.  This is a great report type if you’re interested in recent, new, or even speculative technology.  For example, students have written about quantum computing, which is cutting-edge technology, and they’ve written about human interplanetary travel, which is still theoretical.  Note that even though topics might still be theoretical, they are being described by the scientific communities online and in publications.

For the Formal Report (FR) assignment, you will pick a topic and choose the report type from one of the report types discussed in your book.  This PowerPoint provides a very general overview, so you will need to learn more about certain report types in by reading the first page or so of the chapters that describe each report type.  Anything before point A in time is beyond the scope of the report.

Be careful not to propose a topic that combines these two report types.  You can’t describe both the historical evolution and the expected developments in the same paper.

The most critical part of this assignment is selecting a topic that you’re intensely interested in.  It has to be related to your major, but not closely.  Try to think of a topic that inspired you to choose your field, or a topic related to a hobby or passion.  In the past, a Mechanical Engineering student described the evolution of snowboards–they’re his passion AND related to his major.  Other students have discussed different aspects of gaming technology, artificial intelligence, fighter aircraft, micro air vehicles, the Mars Rover, cryptography, medical imagine or sensors, roller coaster design, etc.

More from Ms. Foster Concerning the Proposals:

The syllabus does an excellent job of describing the last three, interconnected assignments for this course.  It all starts with the proposal and annotated bibliography assignment, which documents your strategy for researching and writing the final report.  Some students are very confused by the proposal assignment because they fail to follow the explicit instructions.  Therefore, I’ve created some materials to help keep on you track.

First, let’s talk about proposals in general.  It is helpful if you know the terminology used when discussing proposals.  So, read the file “Proposal Terminology.”  As you read that document, be aware that those terms relate to the type of research proposals you might write once you’re practicing your profession in business, industry, or academia.  However, they are also useful for understanding the basic concept of the proposal assignment, if you know the following things:

  1. The RFP for this assignment is in your syllabus.
  2. I am the program manager.
  3. I am the funding agency.


Specifically, the proposal that you write for this class will not be a research proposal.  Instead, your proposal is a student proposal for a class project and must follow the example on pages 101-104 in the textbook.  You should not use any other template or sample from the book for this assignment.  In addition to the example on pages 101-104, I’ve created a step-by-step explanation of the assignment that details exactly what each section of the proposal should accomplish.  See the file “Proposal Instructions.” Do not deviate from those instructions.

Before you begin writing the proposal, you must consider the purpose of the assignment—the proposal will document your strategy for researching and writing your final report.  So, your proposal will identify the report type and topic that you plan to write about in your final report.  Think of the proposal as a gateway assignment; I need to approve your strategy and topic so that you can write the final report.  See the file “Report Types” to learn about the different report types you’re able to choose from for writing your final report.  Each report type corresponds to a chapter in your book.  However, I’ve summarized the report types for you, so you only need to read the chapters that you’re considering using for your final report.  You do not need to read several irrelevant chapters.  I advise you to keep your book as a reference tool for instructions on how to write various reports should you need to in the future.

As you are choosing your report type, think about the topic you want to write about.  You need to pick a topic that is related to your major and that you are intensely interested in.  For example, mechanical engineering students have written about topics ranging from micro air vehicles to the design of snowboards.  Electrical engineering students have researched topics ranging from the development of radar technology during World War II to electric cars to wireless power transfer and smart home technology.  Computer science and computer engineering students have discussed the evolution of gaming technology (Nintendo consoles!) to cyber security to quantum teleportation.  The possibilities are endless, as long as they are technical topics relating to your field.

As you choose your topic, keep in mind that this is a technical writing class, so your papers should focus on the technical aspects of your topics.  Do not write position or argument papers that posit that a particular technology is “good” or “bad.”  Those types of papers are not appropriate for this class, as we do not deal with social implications.

Ms. Foster Concerning the Annotated Bibliography:

The Annotated Bibliography assignment is part of the Proposal assignment.  Please read the “Annotated Bibliography” file.  An annotated bibliography is a list of potential sources that you can use for your final paper—it is not a Works Cited page for the proposal.  The Annotated Bibliography file will give you explicit instructions, but remember that there are three elements to the annotation:

  1. The citation of the source you plan to use.  Use APA 6th edition.
  2. A brief summary of the source.  You can summarize the source in 1-2 sentences.
  3. An explanation of how you plan to use the source in your final paper.  You should not include subjective, evaluative statements such as “this is an excellent source”; instead, you need to tell me how you plan to use it: “This source will be used in the section discussing biomimetics in micro air vehicle design.”


Your annotated bibliography should have 8 sources related to your final paper.  You are not allowed to use wikis, dictionaries, encyclopedias, HowStuffWorks, etc.  Use reputable sources from the library; databases from the library website; search tools such as Google Scholar; or relevant corporate, educational, or government websites.  There is no page limitation for the proposal and annotated bibliography assignments.

Week Eight: June 27, 2016

Topics: Presentations and briefings

FEAS RPT due in Dropbox by noon Thursday, June 30, 2016


Do the following by midnight Thursday, June 30, 2015

  • Read chapter 17 in your text, “Presentations”
  • Continue working on your Proposal and Annotated Bibliography
  • Look at the Presentation PowerPoint (has slides you will need for your presentation)
  • Respond the “Proposal Topic” thread in Discussions
    • What kind of report are you thinking about doing?
    • What is the topic of your report?
    • What kind of research do you think you will have to do for your topic?
    • How is your topic related to your major?


COMMENTS: Technical presentations are a fact of life in all technical fields. You must be able to communicate both in writing and verbally. You will be doing a presentation for this class using content from your final report. You will use bullet points to guide your presentation, but do not read them verbatim. Use them as a guide to have your discussion. You are not required to do a video for this presentation. Instead, you will do an audio with a PowerPoint presentation. Please use these instructions to do so:

Note: The link provides information for PowerPoint 2007, but includes a link for PowerPoint 2010.

STAC in the Dunbar library can provide free assistance to students for their technology needs.  Check the STAC website for more information and hours.

Here are the slides you will need to include for your presentation:

Introduction (1 slide)

Overview (1 slide)

Discussion (10 slides minimum)

Review/Recap (1 slide)

References (1 slide)

Conclusion (1 slide) 


Week Nine: July 5, 2016 (take off July 4, Independence Day, USA)

  • If you have not already done this, respond to the Proposal topic in Discussions by midnight Thursday, July 7, 2016, responding to the following questions:
    • What kind of report are you thinking about doing?
    • What is the topic of your report?
    • What kind of research do you think you will have to do for your topic?
    • How is your topic related to your major?
  • Annotated Bibliography and Proposal due in Dropbox by midnight Sunday, July 10, 2016
  • Begin working on your formal report


Week Ten: July 11, 2016


  • Abstracts and Executive summaries (Read chapter 12 in text, “Abstracts and Summaries”)
  • Checklist for final report below


We are almost finished!  Here are the instructions for the final assignments:

You must include these components in your final report:

  1. Transmittal Letter–this simple letter formally conveys the final report to its intended audience with any desired action noted.  For example, I am the audience, and you would like for me to read and evaluate your final report.  See the example on page 333. Use your academic department’s campus address as your address.  You do not need to sign the letter, but should type your name.  Keep the letter short and professional. (1 page)
  2. Informative Abstract–this document should provide a brief summary of your final report.  Strive to keep it concise (200-250 words).  Do not include any images, direct quotes, or in-text citations in the Abstract. (1 page)
  3. Cover page–this is the same type of cover page you’ve used all term. (1 page)
  4. Final Report–this is the actual report. You should begin with the Introduction heading (Purpose, Background, Scope), followed by the Discussion heading (use subheadings to organize this section logically and include relevant images), and ending with the Conclusion heading (a brief summary of the report–do not introduce any new concepts). (10 pages)
  5. References/Work Cited–this is a list of only the sources you cited in your Final Report.  You should have at least 8 sources; do not annotate them. (1-2 pages)


Modifications from Outline 11.1 in the text:  Students writing a Historical or State-of-the-Art report should follow Outline 11.1 in the text.  However, you can make these modifications:

  1. Change “Problem” to “Background” in the Introduction and include any information needed to provide context to your topic.
  2. Eliminate the Background heading, including Theory and History subheadings.
  3. Eliminate Recommendations in the Conclusion.  Your task is to simply synthesize research about your topic in your own words.  You should not include any recommendations.
  4. Eliminate “Sources Consulted But Not Used: in the References section.  This is a very confusing section and outdated.
  5. An appendix is an optional document that should only be used for large images, tables, or data sets that supplement the report.  These document elements should not be used to “pad” your paper to help it meet the page minimums.
  6. The Final Report page minimum is 10 pages (Introduction to Conclusion), but there is no maximum.


Week Eleven: July 18, 2016


  • Presentations due in Dropbox by midnight Thursday, July 21, 2016


Week Twelve: July 25, 2016


  • Final Reports due in Dropbox by midnight Thursday, July 28, 2016
  • Final Discussion due by midnight Thursday, July 28, 2016






  • This class schedule is not carved in stone. I reserve the right to make any changes I think are necessary for the good of the class.


  • Assignments will be graded and returned as soon as possible. I try to get them back to you within a week; however, sometimes it will most likely take longer—especially with the more complex assignments from the proposal on.






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