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EGMT 504: Communications

Dr. Carole Mablekos Instructor: Dr. Carole Mablekos

Description: One of the core courses in the graduate Engineering Management Program, EGMT 504 is intended for students having undergraduate degrees in engineering or basic sciences. Typically, our students have several years of work-place experience; however, the course can be adapted to the needs of senior-level undergraduates. Because communication skills are critical to all professions, this course can apply across the professional spectrum and prove useful to scientists and technical professionals, as well as to engineers.

The main focus of this course is to make students aware that good design is just as central to technical communications as it is for any engineering endeavor. By applying their engineering design skills, engineering managers can achieve better success in developing the various kinds of professional writing: from email, memos, meeting documents, and technical briefings to proposals, progress reports, and formal reports. Also addressed are important writing skills, such as focusing purpose; writing for managerial, technical, and client audiences; developing and organizing content; building effective reporting formats; and editing to achieve professional-level style and correctness. The first seven assignments in the course all pertain to a project of the student’s own choosing. Each student will find a problem to solve or an opportunity to address, ideally related to his or her professional life. Each student researches and analyzes his or her project, meets with colleagues, writes a series of professional reports and delivers an oral presentation--all on this project, either on campus or at work. The course also includes two team assignments intended to build ethical awareness, to practice problem solving, to enhance team-building skills--such as leadership and collaboration, and to provide experience in working with dispersed teams. These last two assignments are based on case studies provided in the course materials. 

Delivery: The course comprises ten weekly interactive web-page/audio-lecture modules, six written assignments, three oral presentation assignments, review quizzes, mid-term and final exams, and weekly threaded discussions. Written feedback on each weekly assignment is prompt and thorough, usually delivered electronically. The entire course is accessible 24/7 online asynchronously through the Drexel course management system; however, students living close enough to campus have the added opportunity to attend an orientation meeting and a oral presentation meeting, all on campus.

Context Within the Curriculum: As a core course, EGMT 504 can serve as foundation for subsequent engineering management courses, all of which require strong communication skills. Reasonably good skill in English is a prerequisite, as this course does not focus on remedial work. Rather, the goal is to raise and expand existing writing and speaking skills to truly professional level.

Prerequisites: NONE

Required Text:

  • Paul V. Anderson, Technical Communication: A Reader-Centered Approach, 8th ed., Cengage, 2013. ISBN. 978-1-133-30981-9 [Having the 8th edition is important because the page numbers in the syllabus and the course materials refer to this edition. You may preview a chapter, obtain a rental copy, or order an electronic copy from CengageBrain.com.]
  • Gerald J. Alred, Charles T. Brusaw, and Walter E. Oliu, Handbook of Technical Writing, 10th ed., St. Martin's Press, 2011. [Other editions of this handbook are acceptable but may be missing some of the latest information.]

Optional Text:

  • Carole M. Mablekos, Getting It Across: A Guide to Good Presentations, Professional Publications, Inc., 2006.

Scheduled: Winter and Summer

Student Feedback

"I had not taken a class since I received my bachelor degrees from Drexel in 1994, so I was a bit hesitant when I enrolled in graduate studies. I appreciated the course not only for the content, but also for the clarity of assignments and the open communication that you maintained throughout the course."  -Peter Moran, STV Incorporated - Philadelphia, PA