Re: Technical writing vs. engineering

Subject: Re: Technical writing vs. engineering
From: Jennie Achtemichuk <jennie -dot- achtemichuk -at- MCCAW -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 27 Apr 1995 15:31:59 -0700

Chateau Wright (GE) wrote: "Believe me, as an civil engineering student my
writing class was much more easier (sic) than any engineering class. To me,
writing is basically researching and reporting information in a specific
writing style. One doesn't even need a class, (sic) there are books that can
teach a person to become a "technical writer". To be an engineer, you
need so many fundamentals: you have to take Physics to know
Thermodynamics and you have to take Thermodynamics to know Fluid
Mechanics and you have to take Fluid Mechanics in order to take Water
Resource Engineering and so on. I'm not trying to "downplay" technical writing
but come
on! It's not as easy to teach engineering to a writer that (sic) to teach
writing to an
engineer. Karla is wrong."

Oh, please!! Let's stop this thread before we corrupt any more student's minds.
they get out of college these days without these biases about their fields? Have
you ever
come across a person who majored in a scientific field and thinks
scientists/engineers/programmers have easy classes to take? I haven't.

All these students say their skills and knowledge are far superior to those of a
writer. Yet they eavesdrop on our forum. Explain that one :-)

Have you ever come across someone with a BS (or, an engineering degree) who
the complete technical pubs cycle easy? I haven't. You see, there's more to
communication than meets the eye. For someone to say they have to take all these
classes to know their field, yet assume that us technical communicators need
just one
book to know our field is ludicrous. I've never heard a TC say that they could
pick up civil
engineering from one book, and I know you can't pick up TC from one book.

One of Karla's points, if I remember right, is that this whole attitude is
elitist. She's right
about this. At this time, I'm not interested in being an engineer (or
programmer, or
secretary, or dentist). They are good at what they do, and I appreciate their
and achievements. However, these are exciting times for information designers
more mediums for communicating being developed all the time.

If anything, engineers and technical communicators are becoming more reliant on
other through all parts of product design cycles. These days, engineers need us
just as
much as we need them.

So, engineering students, before you draw conclusions on another field (or your
own field
before you start practicing), cut other professions some slack. Maybe you don't
everything yet.

Jennie Achtemichuk (206) 828-0229
Kirkland, WA
Independent Consultant (tech communication, instructional design)
Employment Chair, Seattle chapter, STC
Chair, Steering Committee, Visual Communicators PIC (in formation), STC

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