The English Major and the Engineering Student: What can they learn from each other?

Subject: The English Major and the Engineering Student: What can they learn from each other?
From: Lynne Harvey <Lynne -dot- Harvey -at- WORLDNET -dot- ATT -dot- NET>
Date: Mon, 15 Feb 1999 13:35:57 -0000

Given the job market for tenure-track professorships in English, I don't
think most graduate students choose to study English because of the career
track, money, or prestige. They do it out of interest or even a passion for
studying literature and language, rather than duty or getting "a ticket
punched."

In my own experience, having an advanced degree in English doesn't add that
much on the resume. Most employers are more interested in my past job
experiences and writing samples than my educational background. If they do
ask about my educational background, they are more interested in knowing if
I
have a technical degree rather than a liberal arts degree.

I know that the standard answer to your question is that English majors can
write better than engineers but I think this generalization can also be
misleading. I think that having a background in the areas you mentioned
has tremendous value in developing analytical thinking, collaborative
writing, and empirical research skills -- but these skills are often
ignored because teachers and practioners of technical writing focus too
much on the details technical writing style, copy editing, or using desktop
publishing software.

Another problem may also reside within academia. I think there's a
tremendous opportunity for English majors to learn and apply their skills
in information design but unfortunately, there's often little
cross-pollination between the Information Systems, Computer Science,
Business, and English departments so the knowledge often becomes
compartmentalized (or departmentalized, depending on your perspective! ).
If technical writers/English majors had more exposure to
these other disciplines, they could more easily apply their skills within
the business world -- going beyond R&D departments into other areas of an
organization.

I don't think your quest for a PhD is a folly, but I do think that the
value of your education is basically what you're willing to make of it. It
won't guarantee you that six figure salary, post as a senior architect, or
famous patent. If you want to be a technical writer, it may make you more
aware of how you will need to market your skills.

Lynne

----------
> From: Steve Amidon <Steveami -at- WORLDNET -dot- ATT -dot- NET>
> To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU
> Subject: The English Major and the Engineering Student: What can
theylearn from each other?
> Date: Sunday, February 14, 1999 7:37 PM
>
> I am a retired military technical writer who is currently working on a
> Ph.D.-in-English. Having worked as a technical writer in both military
and
> civilian environments (Engineering generally, as opposed to software
> documentation), I am wondering what it actually is that the English major
> can offer the future technical writer, other than punching a ticket that
he
> needs punched on his college transcript. Since those who teach technical
> writing at universities often have backgrounds in rhetoric, composition,
> literature, critical theory, and cultural studies, what can these
> disciplines bring to the technical writer?
>
> If you have thoughts, or resources you would recommend I pursue in this
> endeavor, please pass them this way.
>
> Steve Amidon
>
>
>
From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=
>


From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=



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