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A Guide to Writing as an Engineer, 5th Edition



A Guide to Writing as an Engineer, 5th Edition

David F. Beer, David A. McMurrey

ISBN: 978-1-119-28594-6 March 2019 240 Pages

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Everyone knows that engineers must be good at math, but many students fail to realize just how much writing engineering involves: reports, memos, presentations, specifications—all fall within the purview of a practicing engineer, and all require a polished clarity that does not happen by accident. A Guide to Writing as an Engineer provides essential guidance toward this critical skill, with practical examples, expert discussion, and real-world models that illustrate the techniques engineers use every day.

Now in its Fifth Edition, this invaluable guide has been updated to reflect the most current standards of the field, and leverage the eText format to provide interactive examples, Engineering Communication Challenges, self-quizzes, and other learning tools. Students build a more versatile skill set by applying core communication techniques to a variety of situations professional engineers encounter, equipping them with the knowledge and perspective they need to succeed in any workplace. Although suitable for first-year undergraduate students, this book offers insight and reference for every stage of a young engineer’s career.

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Preface iii

Acknowledgments vii

1 Engineers and Writing 1

Engineers Write a Lot 2

Engineers Write Many Kinds of Documents 2

Successful Engineering Careers Require Strong Writing Skills 4

Engineers Can Learn to Write Well 5

Noise and the Communication Process 5

Controlling the Writing System 7

Exercises 8

Check Your Understanding 8

Engineering Communication Challenge 9

2 Eliminating Sporadic Noise in Engineering Writing 10

Spelling and Spell Checkers 10

Punctuation 11

Traditional Sentence Errors 18

Technical Usage 24

Edit, Edit, Edit, 31

Exercises 32

Check Your Understanding 32

Engineering Communication Challenge 34

3 Guidelines for Writing Noise-Free Engineering Documents 35

Focus on Why You are Writing 35

Focus on Your Readers 36

Satisfy Document Specifications 37

Get to the Point 38

Provide Accurate Information 39

Present Your Material Logically 39

Explain the Technical to Nonspecialists 40

Make Your Ideas Accessible 41

Use Efficient Wording 45

Format Your Pages Carefully 50

Express Yourself Clearly 52

Manage Your Time Efficiently 56

Edit at Different Levels 57

Share the Load: Write as a Team 58

Exercises 59

Check Your Understanding 60

Engineering Communication Challenge 61

4 Letters Memoranda Email and Other Media for Engineers 62

Which to Use? 62

Writing Style for Business Correspondence 64

Communication Strategies for Tricky Situations 65

Business Letters: Components and Format 66

Business Memoranda 70

Email: Functions, Style, Format 72

New Internet Media 73

Exercises 75

Check Your Understanding 76

Engineering Communication Challenge 77

5 Writing Common Engineering Documents 78

Some Preliminaries 79

Inspection and Trip Reports 80

Research, Laboratory, and Field Reports 81

Specifications 84

Proposals 87

Progress Reports 90

Instructions 93

Recommendation Reports 96

Exercises 100

Check Your Understanding 101

Engineering Communication Challenge 102

6 Writing Research and Design Reports 103

Engineering Research Reports 103

Engineering Design Reports 111

General Report Design and Format 114

Generating Portable Document Files 116

Using CMS and Other Applications for Team Reports 117

Exercises 118

Check Your Understanding 119

Engineering Communication Challenge 120

7 Constructing Engineering Tables and Graphics 121

Tables 121

Charts and Graphs 124

Illustrations 126

Graphics and Tables: Guidelines 126

Exercises 127

Check Your Understanding 127

Engineering Communication Challenge 128

8 Accessing Engineering Information 129

Basic Search Strategies 129

Sources of Engineering Information 132

Internet Engineering Information Resources 145

Internet Search Tools 147

Exercises 148

Check Your Understanding 148

Engineering Communication Challenge 149

9 Engineering Your Speaking 150

Preparing the Presentation 150

Delivering The Presentation 159

Presenting as a Team 163

Checklist for Oral Presentations 164

Listening to Presentations 165

The Importance of Informal Communication 166

Exercises 166

Check Your Understanding 167

Engineering Communication Challenge 167

10 Writing to Get an Engineering Job 168

How to Write an Engineering Résumé 168

How to Write an Application Letter 179

How to Write a Follow-Up Letter 188

Exercises 189

Check Your Understanding 190

Engineering Communication Challenge 191

11 Ethics and Documentation in Engineering Writing 192

Engineering Ethics 192

The Ethics of Honest Research 197

Exercises 203

Check Your Understanding 203

Engineering Communication Challenge 204

12 Engineering Your Online Reputation 205

Introduction to Social Media Management 205

Creating a Wordpress Blog 206

Building a Facebook Page for a Business 209

Using Twitter to Connect and Share Information 213

Generating Your Interactive Résumé on LinkedIn 215

Check Your Understanding 218

Engineering Communication Challenge 219

Index 221

  • Enhanced eText format features author audio introductions to each chapter, plus show/hide functionality for selected problems
  • Supplemental writing exercises can be used as assignments or independent practice
  • New pedagogical features include self-assessment quizzes, videos, Power
    Point animations, and more
  • Updated discussion of design reports, social media, and library research reflect the current real-world work environment
  • Eases the writing and revision process by focusing on eliminating “noise” rather than errors and poor writing
  • Uses practical examples and real-world model specifications to crystallize new ideas
  • Covers everyday workplace communications as well as engineering-specific documents
  • Offers expert insight on research, planning, and accessing information for reports
  • Provides in-depth guidance on ethics in engineering communication, with sample IEEE formatting for citations and references
  • Includes coverage of social media and online content curation for building a brand or professional reputation