From: Sheila Marshall <sheila -at- STK -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 25 Mar 1998 15:22:12 -0500

OK, I admit it. I was just about to go into a full-blown tiz about this
subject until I read Richard's response, which seems quite reasonable.

I would like to add, however, that the number of engineers who think
they can write is significantly higher than those who actually can write.

Writing seems to be one of those skills that everyone wants to claim as
their own, yet many refuse to keep those skills current and constantly
exercise them. On the other hand, engineering seems to require years and
years of training, and any knowledge gained in grade/high school is
simply not applicable. Of course, everything you learn in grade/high school
English forms the core of a person's writing skills. So why can't I
apply the concepts I learned in high school math and science to my job writing
for rocket scientists (which I do)? According to many (not all)
engineers, I just can't. But apply this same logic to English skills, and
engineer is an expert.

People are skilled in different areas. The problem as I see it is not
who is more teachable but who is more arrogant. Seeing my point, here?

So maybe I did get in a tizzy after all that! But I definitely agree
with Richard :-)

Neither engineering nor writing is overly easy or overly

Most engineers can master the basics of writing -- at least
well enough to provide useful input to technical writers.
Some engineers write very well.

Most technical writers can understand the details of the
operation and application of the products they write about
-- at least well enough to build a mental framework, research
the lacunae, and produce useful docs. Some writers have deep
technical understanding of what they write about.

Arguing about who is more teachable is a waste of time. ...RM

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