Master's Response - my gaffe

Subject: Master's Response - my gaffe
From: Rikki Nyman <c1043 -at- AZFMS -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 11 Oct 1995 15:58:30 -0700

I am really sorry I assaulted you with all that junk. You have been **very**
decent about it. One of the programmers here (after the fact) explained what I
did and why it didn't work. :-(

Nuts. This has just turned into one of those star-crossed projects.

So I fixed it. See below.

Rikki (egg on my face) Nyman

RikkiN -at- aol -dot- com
c1043 -at- azfms -dot- com

Master's Programs - Summary

***Iowa State University - 5/95

Janet Renze rates their program "very highly on both hands-on and
theory course!!!" For more info check out her home page and the IS English
Department at:


Instructors were "great -- many very well published and experienced."

Source: Janet Renze at jlrcgn -at- aol -dot- com

***Bowling Green State University - 1988

"Program Strong points: 'Cognate' structure allows students much input in
program design and a
range of coursework in your chosen technical cognate." Option to do a paid
internship in lieu of thesis.

Weak points: Program is run by two professors in the English
department. If you like them,great, otherwise...It helps that they are
contrasting personalities.
I remember being disappointed by the graphics course which was offered by the
School. Required courses were good - (technical writing, technical editing
and research and bibliography). The course 'Training in Business and Industry'
was "superb".

For information: Douglas Thayer at
douglas_thayer -at- smtplink -dot- syscom -dot- com -dot- tw-

***James Madison University (Harrisonburg, VA)

Starting a Master's Program next year.

Source: Darcey Harding at stu_dcharding -at- jmu -dot- edu

***University of Central Florida (Orlando)

Excellent program housed in English Department.

***The University of Waterloo (Ontario, Canada)

"The University of Waterloo offers a Master's program in Language
and Professional Writing. The big advantage to this program is that it offers a
co-op stream.
Study 4 months, work 4months. I have friends in the program, and they all rave
about it.
If you're interested or wantmore info, the phone number for the university is
That's the main number --ask to skeak to someone about a Master's English

Source: Kim Fawcett at kfawcett -at- dy4 -dot- com

***Miami University (Ohio)


"Good program.

1) It gave me experience writing a vairety of types of documents for a variety
of disciplines
(e.g.,environmental disciplines, software documentation, biolgoical
sciences,etc.). This was extremely helpful for me -- I have a bachelor's degree
in Communication
from Rensellaer Polytechnic Institute, and the tech. comm. emphasis there was
documentation. Miami's program broadened my perspective.

2) It's a small program (15 people), which means students have a
great deal of personal contact with the instructors.

3. It's a challenging program.

4. It requires an internship, which is vital for students who don't
have any experience in the "real world". I'd already worked as a technical
communicator for a
large company, so the internship wasn't as helpful for me, but I know it was
invaluable for my
classmates who hadn't worked as technical communicators.

5. Excellent computer facilities. The MTSC program has a dedicated,
up-to-date computer lab, and there's plenty of access for everyone.

There were some drawbacks:

1. There was no formal process for getting an internship; we were
pretty much "on our own". Many internships come through personal contacts of the
faculty or
former MTSC students, which certainly is a limitation.

2. When I was there (1992), we didn't have many opportunities to
learn about and develop online documentation. Based on my conversations with
faculty, I think this has changed quite a bit. Unfortunately, some of the
professors aren't very familiar with
up-and-coming technologies and media.

Source: Corrie Bates at cbates -at- comware -dot- com

#2 ---

"You might like to look at the web site I've created for the
degree program I'm finishing. If you have Internet access, take a look at:

It's the Master's degree program in Technical and Scientific Communication
at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. I started it last fall after completing a
in Chemistry at Butler University in Indianapolis.

We do a lot of client projects, keeping the "real work" scenarios
alive. For example, we wrote a real grant proposal for a local zoo research
center. Other
client projects are one-one-one with student and client. (I wrote a software
manual for a
computer lab at the university.) We also have an internship report instead of a
thesis, so both the practical and theoretical aspects of tech comm are

It is difficult to specialize when you're studying tech comm - this is one of
the difficulties weencounter. Software and computer documentation is growing
so quickly that there are fewer jobs
in other cognate areas.

I'm realizing that it's difficult to summarize everything about my degree
program. If I've
further clouded the issue, I apologize! Let me know if I can answer any more
questions. The web site may also answer some questions, so take a look!

Source: Anne Munson at ammunson -at- miavx1 -dot- acs -dot- muohio -dot- edu

***Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, NY)

#1 --

"Very good, very intensive program that appears to carry much weight
and respect with managers. As recently as four months ago, while interviewing, I
was told that
the MS Tech Writing degree on the resume is what made mine catch the manager's
eye. (I got the

Strong Point: Lots of exercises designed to teach us how to write,
how to organize, how to ask questions. Hands-on work on layout, style, and
following projects
from beginning to end. Also, as it's an engineering school, lots of contact
with state-of-the-art systems, and opportunities to work with engineering types
who are involved in research projects. And finally, to me one of the strongest
aspects was the generalization. I was as well-equipped
to get a job at an aircraft manufacturing company (which I did) as my classmates
were to get jobs
in software documentation.

Weak point: Well, for many, it would be that last strong point I mentioned.
There was little
-specific- training in software systems that could be applied to a job. For
example, we didn't learn C or UNIX. (This may, though, be because I attended
the program at a point when computing was undergoing a pardigm shift. PCs were
virtually unknown back then. C wasn't nearly as widely used as it is today.
The course offerings may have changed.)

Most valuable projects:

The ones that made me think about the procedure and writing. My two

* Changing a tire. One sunny afternoon, we were marched out to the
parking lot, one student had "volunteered" her car. Using the procedures in the
manual, we attempted to change the tire -exactly- as the procedures were
written. It's harder
than it sounds, there are a lot of assumptions written into common procedure
like that.

* Flight manual re-write. One professor passed out about 10 pages
from the flight manual of a USAF jet fighter. He gave us the basic concepts of
flight controls,
then told us to re-write the manual so that it would be simpler for the user.

Enhancements to skill set:

I learned to take procedures and break them down into the simplest
steps, and then clearly write out those steps.

If you could add anything knowing what you now know, what would it

More emphasis on desktop publishing systems. (But as I mentioned
earlier, it's quite possible that this information if now part of the program.)"

Source: Rick Lippincott at rjl -at- bostech -dot- com

#2 --

"I went to RPI for my MS (after a MA at Ohio State), and it was
a good programme. Best part was that I was able to do it in 1 academic year
(FT). Got me lots
of offers, and has been a significant marker for many hirers. (4.0 average
didn't hurt, either, I will confess)

The program has gone into decline since I left, but it looks like
it is making a comeback under a new department chair.

The other programmes that I have good things about are at CMU, U of
Minnesota (only PhDin Rhet and TComm that I know of), and U of Washington
in that it is run out of the business School, not English or Engineering)

I can point you to some people at RPI and UMinn if you want more info.
RPI has a web page:


There's general school stuff and a special LL&C section. (Language,
Literature, and Comm .. . this is where the TComm program is).

Source: Grant Hogarth at GRANT -at- onyxgfx -dot- com

University of Washington (Seattle, WA)

No one responded who is familiar with that program, but there
is a comprehensive list of coursesfor both the undergrad and graduate degrees,
Technical Japanese for those of you who are involved with companies on the
Pacific Rim.

***STC Education

Check out:

Source: Lee Byrd at stc -at- tmn -dot- com

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