MCE 102 Technical Writing & Professional Communication

Department of Mechanical Engineering


Spring Semester, 2008


Catalog               MCE 102 Technical Writing & Professional Communication (2-0-2). 

Description:        Prerequisite:  ENG 101.  Technical writing as a process for organized

                           expression of ideas and knowledgeable opinion; oral presentation and writing of

                           letters, reports, memos, and proposals for effective communication; utilization

                           of word-processing software to assist in the writing process.


Instructor:           Dr. W. Atherton, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Office:  SH 233

Phone:  (216) 687-2595                   FAX:  (216) 687-5375


                           Office Hours:     M & W 11:00 AM -12:00 PM

                                                      T & Th 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM & by appointment


Textbooks:         Pocket Book of Technical Writing for Engineers and Scientists, 3rd Ed., Leo Finkelstein, Jr., McGraw-Hill, 2008.


Reference:          The Everyday Writer, 2nd Ed., Andrea A. Lunsford, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2001.


Goals:                 To provide engineering and science students an introduction to technical writing, acceptable ethical standards, use of various media for information research, development of logical arguments, and effective and concise communication of ideas through written and verbal means.


Grading:             The course grade will be based on several short assignments, a progress report, a comprehensive assignment, an oral presentation, mastery of the mechanical elements of Standard Written English, a midterm examination, and the final examination. An average level of performance (“C” or better) in application of the elements of Standard Written English is required to receive a passing grade for the course.


                           The formula for the overall course average is numerically determined:


Course Grades =>    Short assignments                   =>       20%

                                                            Progress report                        =>         5%

                                                            Vocabulary                              =>         5%

                                                            Oral presentation                     =>       10%

                                                            Comprehensive assignment     =>       20%

                                                            Midterm Examination              =>       20%

                                                            Final Examination                   =>       20%


                           The following grading scale will be used to determine the grade for this course unless otherwise indicated during the semester:         



Class Policies:    Good writing can be learned by anyone.  Like anything else, it comes as a
result of practice.  To this end, I encourage you to have classmates/family/ friends review and critique each assignment before it is turned in.  Fresh viewpoints can point out mistakes and help eliminate “noise” that would otherwise be overlooked. 


                           The midterm and final examinations are closed book/closed notes.  The keys to good communication should be learned, committed to memory, utilized at every opportunity, and become a part of your daily life.  Missing the midterm (or the final) will result in a score of zero points unless prior notification is given and arrangements have been made for an alternative test time prior to the time of the scheduled examination. 


                           PLEASE - Turn off your cell phone when attending class. 


                           The following course outline is subject to change.



 Date                            Topic                                                                                                              

Jan. 14             Review of basic concepts.  Assignment #1:  Finkasaurus rex

Jan. 16             Read Preface & Chapters 1 & 13 before coming to class.  Vocabulary test.              

Jan. 21             Martin Luther King Day Holiday – No class.

Jan. 23             Read Chapters 2 & 3 before coming to class. 

____________Assignment #2:  Technical definition. Vocabulary test.                                            

Jan. 28             Read Chapters 4 & 5 before coming to class.

Jan. 30             Writing letters, memos, and sending emails

____________Assignment #3: Describe a component.  Vocabulary test.                                         

Feb. 4              Read Chapters 7, 8 & 9 before coming to class.

Feb. 6              Writing various reports,

____________Assignment #4:  Writing a progress report.  Vocabulary test.                                  

Feb. 11            Read Chapter 11 before coming to class.

Feb. 13            Research reports.

____________Assignment #5:  Research report assignment. Vocabulary test.                                

Feb. 18            President’s Day Holiday – No class.

Feb. 20            Read Chapters 12, 14 & 15 before coming to class. 

                        Documentation.  Using tables and graphics.

____________ Vocabulary test.                                                                                                        

Feb. 25            Review

Feb. 27            Midterm Examination.                                                                                            

Mar. 3             Read Chapter 17 before coming to class.

Mar. 5             Effective presentations

                        Vocabulary test.                                                                                                         

Mar. 9             Spring break  /   No class this week.

Mar. 11           Spring break  /   No class this week.                                                                      

Mar. 17           Read Chapter 20 before coming to class.

Mar. 19           Working in teams.

                        Vocabulary test.                                                                                                         

Mar. 24           Read  Chapters 18 & 19 before coming to class

Mar. 26           Forms of business communication

                        Assignment #6:  Resume.  Vocabulary test.                                                               

Mar. 31           Read Chapters 12 & 16 before coming to class.

Apr. 2              Abstracts/Executive Summaries/Odds & ends.

                        Assignment #7:  Business correspondence. Vocabulary test.                                    

Apr. 7              Running effective meetings.

Apr. 9              Presentations                                                                                                              

Apr. 14            Presentations

Apr. 16            Presentations                                                                                                              

Apr. 21            Presentations

Apr. 23            Presentations                                                                                                              

Apr. 28            Presentations

Apr. 30            Presentations                                                                                                              


May 9              Final Examination – Friday – 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM