Re: Technical writing vs. engineering

Subject: Re: Technical writing vs. engineering
From: "Chateau Wright (GE)" <cwright -at- SUNTAN -dot- ENG -dot- USF -dot- EDU>
Date: Fri, 28 Apr 1995 13:13:45 -0400

Eavesdrop on your forum! Look lady, my technical writing teacher
suggested we sign-up for this list to get some insight on technical
writing from technical writers and the software "your people" use.
Engineering is in fact more techincal than writing. When you drive your
car today (mechnical & electrical engineering) on your neighborhood road
(civil engineering) and stop at the traffic light (civil engineering)
most of the things around you are because of engineering. All I'm trying
to say is that *to me* technical writing is not as complicated and
intense as the things that engineers learn and develop. I'm not saying
that engineering is "superior" or that technical communication is

On Thu, 27 Apr 1995, Jennie Achtemichuk wrote:

> Chateau Wright (GE) wrote: "Believe me, as an civil engineering student my
> technical
> writing class was much more easier (sic) than any engineering class. To me,
> technical
> 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
> Can't
> they get out of college these days without these biases about their fields?
> 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
> technical
> writer. Yet they eavesdrop on our forum. Explain that one :-)

> Have you ever come across someone with a BS (or, an engineering degree) who
> found
> the complete technical pubs cycle easy? I haven't. You see, there's more to
> technical
> communication than meets the eye. For someone to say they have to take all
> 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
> challenges
> and achievements. However, these are exciting times for information designers
> with
> more mediums for communicating being developed all the time.

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

> So, engineering students, before you draw conclusions on another field (or
> own field
> before you start practicing), cut other professions some slack. Maybe you
> know
> 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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