Re: UW certificate program

Subject: Re: UW certificate program
From: Chuck Martin <techwriter -at- VNET -dot- IBM -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 27 May 1994 11:56:45 PDT

Forgive me for being a bit defensive, but I disagree with your one-word
assessment of the UW certificate program. I can't speak to that directly,
but i did just finish the undergraduate degree program, taught by the
same instructors. Not only is much of the material the same, but the
instructors are highly qualified. There is a lot of good information there.

But I guess you get out what you put in.

However, technical writing is far, far more than knowing a product and
describing it. You _must_ have a sterling command of grammar; no one
will trust the information you present if the presentation itself is
shoddy. You must know how to describe clearly, concisely, and directly,
without using unnecessary jargon and obfuscation.

Technical writing is also much more that documenting computer software,
which is why the UW degree program requires at least 50 credits of
math and science classes, to get a thorough grounding in basic science.
The technical writing classes are extremely helpful; they not only
delve into the subjects of grammar, clear writing, and editing, but
also project planning, understanding research, and usability design.
Personally, I got a lot of value from the classes taught by Jan
Spyridakis (especially the Style in TW class). But, in writing even
more than in other fields, improvement comes through practice, and
the classes offered plenty of practice: practical scenarios covering
a wide range of topics.

So let this also be a foil for your anti-recommendation as well, not
only the undergraduate degree program (offered through the College
of Engineering, not the English dept.), but the graduate degrees in
both Technical Communication _and_ Technical Japanese. The program
there was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I took
advantage of it, and I am a success in part because of it.

Chuck Martin
Information Developer, IBM
techwriter -at- vnet -dot- ibm -dot- com
techwriter -at- aol -dot- com
74170,2462 -at- compuserve -dot- com


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