Integrating Engineering and Geoscience Through Technical WritingThalia Anagnos, Professor, Department of General Engineering, San Jose State University
- Students should be able to demonstrate an understanding of the methods and limits of scientific investigation.
- Students should be able to distinguish science from pseudo-science.
- Students should be able to apply a scientific approach to answer questions about the earth and environment.
Dr. Toa'fa Vaiaga'e, Director of the American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency (AS-EPA), has hired EnvironSJ to help set priorities for developing mitigation programs. His annual budget is $500,000, so he cannot implement every suggestion in the LAS at once. He has hired you to help him determine the top priorities for his limited budget. He has asked you to include:
- A summary of the top few contributors to coral reef destruction in American Samoa;
- Identification of the top two goals and projects you would recommend from the LAS;
- Identification of the first steps the AS-EPA should take to get these projects going.
As a semester culminating project students must write a proposal to address a current environmental issue. Proposals may recommend the implementation of an environmental process for use in production, the purchase of a product for use by a client, the design of a product for future sales, etc. Students are required to identify and research a problem and present a solution that establishes the need for the recommendation and presents clear steps for its implementation. Typical proposals related to the geosciences include solutions to water shortages, storm runoff management, development and delivery of alternative fuels and energy sources, chemical or waste disposal, development of environmental sensors, soil remediation, and sustainable practices.An important goal of ENGR 100w is to help engineering students understand that solutions to the world's complex problems require an interdisciplinary approach that includes input from many stakeholders. Examples are engineers, scientists, economists, sociologists, lawyers, and policy makers, as well as end-users. This approach of hosting exciting speakers who discuss the latest problems and solutions related to earth and environment issues provides important real-world context to what engineering students are learning in their other technical classes. It also helps engineering students learn how to communicate their important findings to a variety of audiences. Since most engineering and geosciences students are required to take writing and/or oral communications courses as part of their curriculum. An approach like this could be easily implemented at many universities without having to make major curricular changes.
Linsdell, J., & Anagnos, T. (2011) Motivating Technical Writing through Study of the Environment, J. Professional Issues in Eng. Ed. and Practice, ASCE, V137, 20-27.