RE: Remember secretaries? (was RE: Proof that content is moreimportant than style)

Subject: RE: Remember secretaries? (was RE: Proof that content is moreimportant than style)
From: JB Foster <jb -dot- foster -at- shaw -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 02 Dec 2002 15:20:34 -0700

Often cited as a reason - for not increasing the number of Humanities
courses within a given Engineering curriculum - is that the minimum amount
of 'core' engineering courses required to meet professional standards,
already consumes close to (the average) four years of study. Therefore,
adding anything more to an already bloated, and extremely demanding,
program - would directly affect the average engineering student's

Also, Engineering students are usually spoon-fed rigid theories, and
practices, that must fit exactly with-in the box. This makes it very
difficult for such students to express original thinking, and creativity -
as is cultivated, and encouraged, within the Humanities. Add to this,
pre-conceived notions (from with-in Technology programs) towards
non-technology courses, as being inferior to those that could enhance
employability (such as programming languages, or management).

Then, there are people like myself, who (from the start) loathed
essay-writing; and who would not have taken any opportunity to improve on
writing skills, even if it had been encouraged while in Engineering. For me,
it wasn't until decades later, that I started to realize the importance of
(and even developed an interest in) writing. Besides, at University, there
were much more interesting courses to be taken within the Program.


cpwinter wrote:
> The University of Chicago also followed this strategy. (At least the
> Astronomy Department did. I base this on Carl Sagan's writing, in which
> he describes the curriculum -- prescribed, IIRC, by Gerard Kuiper -- as
> including a substantial measure of "humanities" courses. I don't recall
> him mentioning any specific emphasis on writing. But such a curriculum
> could hardly have failed to help in that area. It certainly did
> in his case.)
> Another data point comes from Donna Shirley's _Managing Martians_.
> (She was project manager for the Sojourner rover on the Mars Pathfinder
> program.) She started off as a technical writer at McDonnell-Douglas in
> St. Louis, and writes (IIRC) that most of the engineers there had writing
> skills inferior to hers.

Order RoboHelp X3 in December and receive $100 mail in rebate, FREE WebHelp
Merge Module and the new RoboPDF - add powerful PDF output functionality
to RoboHelp X3. Order online today at

Check out SnagIt - The Screen Capture Standard!
Download a free 30-day trial from
Find out what all the other tech writers, including Dan, already know!

You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as:
archive -at- raycomm -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Send administrative questions to ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.


Previous by Author: RE: Online or print for SDK material?
Next by Author: RE: The debate that won't die
Previous by Thread: Need a technical contracting agency suggestion
Next by Thread: Re: Remember secretaries? (was RE: Proof that content is moreimportant than style)

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads