The Engineers’ Guide to Technical Writing: Insights for Budding Engineers

Abdul Wadood Khan

Abstract


Engineers, being hands-on experts, need to produce technical documents that are convincing to colleagues, executives, and clients. This study analyzes different technical documents written by engineers and offers instruction on how to approach the task of technical writing. The quantitative part of the study involved gathering statistics on the types of documents most frequently written by engineers and the importance engineers assign to technical writing in their career. The study participants consisted of 60 engineers selected through a snowball sampling method. Data was collected through the use of a questionnaire. The results of the data are presented in frequencies and percentages. An analysis of the data reveals that engineers currently practicing in Saudi Arabia believe writing to be important in their field. In total, 66.7% believe writing to be “very important,” whereas the remaining 33.3% believe it to be “important”; none of the respondents believe writing to be only “slightly important” or “not important.” When asked whether their background education in the engineering field adequately prepared them for writing on the job, only 30 (50%) were confident of their writing abilities following their engineering degrees. The other 30 (50%), although they found their skills in technical writing to be useful, were not confident of its adequacy in the workplace. Given the option of selecting more than one answer, respondents recorded the following frequencies for the type of writing they usually do at work: 40 out of 60 respondents (6.7%) stated that they frequently write interim or progress reports; 30 (50%) stated that they write final or recommendation reports. However, only 10 (16.7%) of the respondents revealed that they often write more focused reports, such laboratory reports. Engineers also write a fair number of non-report documents, including memos, emails, and logbook entries.


Keywords


Engineering Students, ESP, Practicing Engineers, Report-writing, Technical Writing for Engineers

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7575/aiac.alls.v.10n.4p.80

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