Five Ways to Use the Book for Teaching and Self Study
1) Stand-alone Engineering Writing Classes: A Global, Project-Based Approach
For instructors teaching discipline-specific writing skills for engineers
I use Part II - Sentence Optimization and Part III - Document Algorithms as the principal texts for my engineering writing & professionalism classes at UC Davis. During our 10-week academic quarters, students read all chapters in those sections, and write short-form versions of all five essential documents covered in Part III. I also assign a series of graded editing exercises and quizzes tied to Part II's lessons in sentence optimization.
To ensure relevance and challenge students' agility, I work with Telanto to connect my students with real-world projects to solve and write about. We have found that including experiential learning projects from global industry partners supercharges student motivation and success--and enlivens instructor experience.
2) Engineering Courses with a Report Writing Component
Integrating Just-In-Time learning into engineering coursework
Individual chapters from the Document Algorithms section work well for just-in-time education modules integrated into engineering classes that require reports. For instance, capstone design classes typically require students to write proposals, project status memos, and final project reports--which are covered in Chapters 15, 16, 17, and 20.
My colleagues and I at UC Davis have also found that the Sentence Optimization chapters work well as a quality-control standard for graduate student T.A.s grading undergrad students' lab reports. Part II presents 20 common sentence-level errors for engineering writers to avoid. These chapters are available as free downloads for students, T.A.s, and faculty at universities with subscriptions to the SpringerLink digital library. Having both T.A.s and students use the same style guide as a reference creates common ground for learning and assessment.
The sentence optimization lessons give students an edge to write better, and help T.A.s grade student writing more consistently and objectively. Grading also takes less time and involves less guesswork, allowing T.A.s and professors to focus on engineering excellence, not engineering writing confusion.
3) Professional Development for Engineers in Industry
Blueprints for lean, effective engineering documents and a clear, efficient communication style
There are many ways to use individual chapters from this book for just-in-time training applications in industry. If your manager wants you to write a proposal memo for a new project, client, or collaboration, and you need a winning blueprint, you can consult Chapter 15 on writing bottom-line-first, short-form proposals. If you're still suffering from post-baccalaureate stress syndrome from having to write academically sophisticated and sufficiently long (enough to fulfill obligatory count) essays in English classes—and that's still your default writing style—you are likely churning out bloated documents that are unpleasant to write, and clunky to read. Learning sentence optimization (Chapters 9 - 13) will teach you how to write on-point workplace emails and reports. Good-bye fancy, frilly English papers. Hello to writing like an engineer.
4) Modular, Variable-Entry-Point Lessons
If you just need instructions for writing concise, bottom-line-first emails, that's okay--go directly to Chapter 16.
Whether you are an engineering student or industry professional, If you're interested in improving your writing skill set through self-directed study, I encourage you to read the entire book. However, how and in what sequence you address the book's chapters (and what chapters you skip) is up to you and your individual needs. The book's indexed design assumes readers will choose where to enter and depart. If you are already a skilled sentence-level writer and know grammar and how to avoid common errors, I invite you to skip directly to Part III. Check out my document algorithms for "go to" workplace documents. You may be familiar with these document types, yet likely not my system's engineer-friendly, document-build method.
5) Sentence Algebra Is Not for Everyone (But I Highly Recommend It)
For the adventurous and/or curious who'd like to try studying or teaching math-based grammar
I am an engineer who likes to know, technically, how things work, from jet engines to integrated circuits–even those those little message-carrying machines we call sentences. Part I - Sentence Algebra explores how sentences function at the system and component levels using variables and equations to make exploration user-friendly for math-based thinkers. Granted, not everyone needs to study grammar to write grammatically. Some writers master grammar at the expert level based solely on ear training and instinct. On the other hand, some writers don't learn grammar automatically, or if they do, they fall short of mastery. Sentence algebra can help close the gaps.
Even if you're an intuitive grammar commander--if you're an engineer--aren't you interested in how sentence machines work? If you learn sentence algebra's 8 variables, 5 key equations, and the phenomenon of "spark," you will gain functional understanding of how individual words with static dictionary definitions join together to encode units of dynamic human thought. It's not rocket science, but it is fascinating. And if you're a fundamentalist like me, it's empowering. Enough said. Read chapters 2 through 8. See for yourself.
A CALL TO ACTION
My math-based writing system is not the only way to develop engineering writing skills, but it does provide a novel alternative. The book pioneers the system's version 1.0 release. I welcome feedback and suggestions for improvement. And I look forward to future updates, collaborations, and refinements into version 2.0. If you're interested in using my book as a teaching tool, I'll gladly share the course outline and syllabus I use for my engineering writing & professionalism classes at UC Davis--as well as the course's lecture slides, assignments, and more. Please spread the word about the math-based writing system for engineers, and tag your thoughts and recommendations #MBWS4e.