Authors & Contributors

Teacher Comment: Students need to write varied kinds of papers

Ken Reardon, Chemical Engineering Professor: Our students work in a variety of settings. Some of them are in consulting companies. We have proposals, reports to clients, work that's been done. Progress reports, final reports. There's a lot of communicating to the client. . . . The level of technical writing varies, depending on how astute you think the client is. People in consulting companies also do some journal articles and they make presentations, conferences, sales meetings. So that's probably the most diverse writing. Other times chemical engineers are plant managers, and the writing demands are probably less. . . . I can imagine them writing an annual report on how productive their plant was.

There are chemical engineers who work as salespeople for chemical manufacturers. People also get jobs with pharmacies in labs doing process development. . . Even grad students start out not realizing how much they can get out of [practicing writing]. By pushing them hard to see that they can get a lot, then they can see what's important and what's not.