TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Writers vs Engineers From:Barry West <Barry_West -dot- S2K -at- S2KEXT -dot- S2K -dot- COM> Date:Thu, 27 Apr 1995 09:11:34 EDT
John Gear wrote:
<snip> But I would much rather have two days (or two
>weeks, or two months, or two years) to teach engineers to write than I would
>to have an equivalent time in which to teach writers to engineer. The
>students in the former group would be much further along towards your
>definition of competence than those in the latter would be towards their
>professional engineer certificates.
Provided the engineer remains in his or her area of expertise. Let's not forget
that Technical Writing isn't just about good prose. For example, would you be
better off trying to teach an EE to write about Marine Biology? Obviously, that
would depend on the person you are trying to teach. The point is that I see the
true skill of a good Technical Writer as having the ability to go into various
environments and learn a product or system significantly enough to translate
the technospeak into plain talk, not to become an expert. However, I agree with
your overall point that the discussion really cannot go anywhere, except round
and round. I have know engineers who are very good writers. I have know
engineers who are very poor writers. I have know writers who are very poor
technically, and I have known writers who are extremely skilled technically
(even though they have not been formally trained technically). I think this
discussion should go the way of the PC vs Mac.