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What do engineers write?

Hi everyone! Thank you for all of your thoughtful responses on the previous module.

The plan for today: 

Transparency: what is writing for engineering?

Consideration: What’s *actually* writing for engineering in your field?

Explore: Let’s find examples of what you might “write” or communicate within your respective field.

So I alluded to this a bit in the last module but I want to slow down and kind of consider the implications of this course and how it’s based on assumptions. Our departments decide what’s best for you to know, instead of asking what you want to learn. This matters because it means you’re paying for courses and an education that becomes largely preformative when it could be really dynamic. My goal with this course is that maybe you take away one applicable lesson that will serve you going forward. 

Now that I’ve totally dampened the mood lol, let’s get back to writing. There is a whole field of technical writing, writing within a specific genre that *can* be used by engineers. But what I am now seeing, is that the field of technical writing and those who need to write in that academic rhetorical form, is pretty small. 

I am totally unfamiliar with is the *actual* writing that goes on in your specific fields day to day. Do you know what you’ll need to be communicating professionally?

I definitely don’t, and when I started looking for examples of professional writing in your field, I realized it’s better for you all to find what’s applicable to you.

This week’s work is going to require some digging. I want you to 

  • find a sample of professional writing or communication from your respective field (electrical, chemical, biomedical, civil, computer science, computer, mechanical)
  • assess who the author of this type of writing might be (professional documents can be without attribution and they’re usually co-written).
  • who is the audience the author is writing for (general public, other engineers, co-workers)?
  • what is the author trying to communicate (<— this one is a bit like a summary). In what ways do they successfully communicate their message and in what ways do they not? (You get to critique!)

Andréa, where do I find such a sample? I’m not entirely sure! Some starting points could be: how did you know you wanted to go into the specific type of engineering you chose? Is there an engineer you know or a company that is doing cool things that interests you? Or maybe you follow someone’s YouTube channel. Just find me any artifact of “writing” or communication in your field and critique using the questions listed above.

Next module I will discuss our mid-semester Work In Progress and we will dive back into examining systemic issues within the fields of engineering.

Enjoy the week!


  1. This weeks module was very helpful in teaching me how to identify the author/creator of a piece of writing/communication. In some cases it’s rather easy to identify the author since their name is on the piece of media but there are other cases where the sample does not include the authors name. In these situations I found it helpful to type in the text of the writing into google and try to find the author by looking through articles that pop up. This module also helped me identify what idea the author/creator is trying to get across in their piece of media. You can often find their points in either the start or end of a text whereas it’s mostly in the beginning when you are watching a video. In some pieces of media like art it can be especially difficult to find the author. Having no signature in the bottom makes it exponentially difficult as well, but I found that if you use an app that searches the picture for you then it’s not as bad.

  2. Although my passion for gaming played a role in my desire to major in Computer Science, the other reason I wanted to major in it is because I was inspired by Jim Browning (Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBNG0osIBAprVcZZ3ic84vw ). Though Browning is not a detective or cyber-security professional, he has really good engineering/ coding skills that he uses to reveal scammers from all over the world. He typically makes videos for the general public, especially for the elderly, so that they can become aware of the different types of scams that take place. He tries to communicate that there are hundreds of thousands of scammers on the internet and that we should learn to identify them so that we don’t become a victim to their wicked schemes. Browning successfully communicates his message by providing a series of videos that shows how he finds scammers, how scammers manipulate their victims to giving them crucial information (such as their bank account information) and how Browning stops the scammers. His videos are both highly informative as well as entertaining since he tends to use his coding skills to make things difficult for the scammers. For instance, he wastes as much time as possible with the scammers and scares them by revealing their personal information (ex. Real name and city they live in) before ultimately giving their information to local authorities so that they could be arrested. Though Browning’s videos may range anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, the way he tells a certain story involving scammers makes the viewer hooked. I was so thoroughly entertained by one of his videos that I didn’t realize that the video was more than an hour long until I reached the very end of it. I personally don’t have any critics for Jim Browning. He clearly has a lot of knowledge on coding and uses his knowledge to portray a meaningful message in such a creative, entertaining way. Although I really want to be a game/software developer, Browning’s videos have made me curious about cyber security. I question if I should go into game development or cybersecurity (or somehow combine the two!).

  3. I am doing Electrical Engineering at City College. My interest in Science major started from Sci-fi movie “Interstellar”. Obliviously, movies and reality are two different things. The movie touched the concepts of Time dilation, Black holes and Worm-holes etc. These concepts forced me to study the true nature of reality. I have done Module #5 and posted my assignment on Slack. This assignment was fun and informative at the same time. Thanks!

  4. As an Electrical Engineering student, I am more interested into semiconductors. I found a research paper based on semiconductor devices which is assumed to be done by a graduate student of Electrical Engineering field. The audience or reader for this research paper are those people who are interested in this subject and of course engineers. This research paper tells us about the findings he made during his research on semiconductors. The conductivity of the semiconductors can be increased through doping process. After the doping process the semiconductor can either hold positive holes or negative electrons. The region between the positive and negative electrons has a very similar behavior like the conductors in case of conductivity.

  5. As a computer science major, I find it interesting how software has integrated into everyone’s lives even though people don’t think about it, in this website https://bscdesigner.com/software-history.html the author described how software was first introduced the lack of technology at first limited the potential of software. This research paper shows that as technology improved so did software. Technology such as phones, web pages, apps, and etc… were all made via software. The audience the author wants to target are students and anybody with an interest regarding technology. The author is trying to communicate the drastic changes and improvements software had gone through and what the future of software is going to be.

  6. For this week’s assignment I looked at Andrew Meyers’s article, “Mechanical Engineers Seek to Master the Forces that drive our world” as he guides the audience through an unconventional way of looking at mechanical engineering. As Meyer describes it, mechanical engineering seems to have two stories, one which most are familiar with and the other that is often overlooked. In a traditional view, mechanical engineers work with cars, robots, and thermodynamic cycles. However, mechanical engineers are much more than this– some mechanical engineers work on designing massive turbine engines for jets, track interactions between cells, or invent nanoscale cooling strategies to keep the ever-shrinking transistor from overheating. Both stories work to understand the forces that govern the behavior of components and systems, mechanics, thermal sciences, and so much more. Mechanical engineers even appear in the medical field– often working to create the next generation of surgical robots and prosthetic limbs. Mechanical engineers work in so many areas and are essential to future technological and societal advancement.
    To me it appears that the author is targeting high school students, more specifically seniors and juniors as they explain the endless amount of opportunities that come with a degree in mechanical engineering.

  7. I’m majoring in mechanical engineering. I am interested in machine design, so I looked up articles related to design for this week’s assignment. Vijayavenkataraman wrote several kinds of papers as a professor at NYU. As a result of examining this and that, there are many technical terms and contents that are difficult to understand without interest, so I don’t think it’s for the general public. The paper I looked at this time is an experimental paper “3D-printed ceramic triply periodic minimal surface structures for design of functionally graded bone implants” made with two co-workers and explains the use of porous bone implant skeleton designs based on Triple Periodic Minimal Surfaces (TPMS) which is additively manufactured with ceramic material (Alumina) using Lithography-based Ceramics Manufacturing (LCM) technology. It took a long time to read because I was not familiar with the content, but it was interesting that mechanical engineering was related to what I didn’t think.

  8. I am currently an undeclared major trying to get into computer engineering (hopefully by the next semester 🙂 ). I have looked at an article about computer engineering in “Live Science” forum written by a Missouri State University graduate (degree in physics and technical writing) writer/editor Jim Lucas. I think there is some good information in this piece for anyone who is planning to major in computer engineering and pursue such career in future. The article talks about the concept of computer engineering (a combination between computer science and electrical engineering). He also gives some background history as he lists people that have invented many electronical parts that will later be the part and parcel of computer hardware as well some pioneers of software development. The article proceeds to talk about some qualifications and skills that computer engineer students will familiarize themselves with. Moreover, there is a detailed estimate of how the salary could look like in this field and what the future holds for computer engineers. There is also a very clear comparison of this field with computer science and electrical engineering to illustrate how significant computer engineering is in contemporary world. It’s a very easy article to find for any future computer engineers that wish to make their dream a reality. Although it doesn’t contain most up-to-date information, it is a good start. I recommend reading this.

  9. I’m majoring in electrical engineering. I am interested in circuit design. I found research paper about traffic control system and password security system. Basically those two papers are mainly described about electrical gate configuration and how it’s worked. The audience or reader for this research paper are those people who are interested engineering.

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