Authors & Contributors

Teacher Comments: On the range of writing assignments in the mechanical engineering curriculum

Interviewer: What kind of communication assignments do you give your students?

Patrick Fitzhorn, Mechanical Engineering: Mostly technical papers, where there's some research investigation, some research of what they're trying to do. There's the fundamental technical content of the paper, the concluding remarks, references. We also have them write design reports, which are different from the technical papers where they talk about the design problem they've been working on, the specifications or constraints of the design problem, the conceptual design phase, and maybe a few alternatives of the design, do some evaluation of alternatives, then talk about the design they've chosen and the development of the design, analysis related to the design, those kinds of issues.

Dave Alciatore, Mechanical Engineering: One other paper is a proposal paper in the senior design class. They have to talk about different solution approaches they have, evaluate those. This is the initial problem statement, fully describing the problem, making sure they fully understand what's in front of them and making sure they understand what they need to in order to approach the problem.

Patrick Fitzhorn: We use these as a reality check, both for ourselves and the student to make sure that their time will be appropriately spent. The design report then is the summary of where they went. . . .