Starting from scratch: Incorporating communication instruction in a revised Mechanical Engineering curriculum

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



To solve the professional challenges they will face upon graduation, mechanical engineering (ME) graduates must be able to ask the right questions, think critically, and communicate their ideas effectively. Traditionally, the ME curriculum has relied on design courses, especially capstone design, to achieve these objectives. This brief paper will describe a new approach developed within a small public research university's large (1,400+) undergraduate ME program in which faculty worked with the department's communications program director to embed technical communication instruction in at least four new required courses. The new curriculum combines applied learning and project-based learning methods in a series of four Mechanical Engineering Practice courses. Technical communication instruction is embedded in these courses via sixteen communication modules, enabling students to learn best practices in written, oral, and visual communication, apply those practices to their individual and team assignments, and receive formative feedback to improve future work. Preliminary feedback from students and departmental faculty has been positive; however, other programs interested in adopting such an approach will need to consider availability of grading resources and structure content to meet the unique needs of the student population and other constituents.

Publisher's Statement

© 2017 IEE. Publisher's version of record: http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/IPCC.2017.8013933

Publication Title

Professional Communication Conference (ProComm), 2017 IEEE International