Coordinating Education and Professional Objectives for Technical Communicators

As part of the December 2010 SIG quarterly teleconference, guest speaker Dr. Don Cunningham will present “Coordinating Education and Professional Objectives for Technical Communicators.”

When: December 17, 12:00-1:00 ET
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Presentation Description

The purpose of university-level technical communication programs is to prepare students to effectively plan and write a range of informative and persuasive documents essential to their professional careers. Course emphasis should therefore help students understand and develop specific technical writing and editing skills. Students expect that what an instructor focuses on in the classroom will also apply to their workplace writing. However, recent research indicates significant differences exist between what professors teach and what professionals find important in technical communication. Writing continues to be an undervalued discipline in post-secondary education, and many believe American businesses suffer significant financial consequences as a result of graduates being unprepared for job-related writing tasks.

A recording of the meeting will be available for download after this event.


In this seminar, former technical writing professional and current university professor, Dr. Don Cunningham will present the results of a descriptive cross-sectional research study focusing on architects' and professional engineers’ perceptions regarding effective technical communication. He will also discuss how educators might find such information useful for defining objectives, planning curricula, and determining specific course criteria for technical writing programs.

As part of the discussion, we hope to explore specific issues as related to your own educational background and industry experiences. Did your own instructors and classes prepare you to meet industry expectations? How can a technical communication education program best prepare graduates for what they will likely encounter on the job? What specific writing or editing skills should be emphasized? Such information is invaluable for enhancing technical communication programs.

Cost and Registration

This SIG event will be open to Technical Editing SIG members and non-members:
  • TE SIG members – $0
  • Other STC members - $10 (The cost to join our SIG for the next 13 months!)
  • Non-members - $20 (The cost to attend this event only, as a non-member)
Note: Technical Editing SIG members are not required to pre-register for this event.
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How to Participate

Access the Handouts in Advance: Download the presentation handouts before the event. They will be available in the file gallery several days in advance.

Join the Teleconference: See the Teleconference Information page for telephone numbers and instructions for joining the call. Callers from outside the United States and Canada should apply for a toll-free number at least two days in advance (see the Teleconference Information page).

Join the Online Chat: Go to the SIG's Live Chat page to chat with other participants in real time during the event.

Access Additional Materials: After the event, download the chat transcript from the file gallery. Also download the audio file of the meeting and presentation, which will be posted to the file gallery a few weeks after the event.


Speaker Profile

Image of Dr. Don Cunningham
Dr. Don Cunningham
Don Cunningham is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Radford University, where he teaches courses in Professional Writing, Business Writing, and Advanced Technical Writing. As an Adjunct Professor at Virginia Tech’s Language and Cultural Institute, he also teaches a Scientific and Technical Writing course for international graduate students. Dr. Cunningham has a PhD in Technical Communication (2005) from the Illinois Institute of Technology, in Chicago. He is an alumnus of Texas A&M University-Commerce (formerly East Texas State University), with a Master of Science (1984) and a Bachelor of Science (1978), both in Journalism.

For more than 20 years, Dr. Cunningham worked in the telecommunications industry as an editor, technical writer, documentation manager, and applications engineer for central office switching system manufacturers specializing in the international (Pacific Rim) markets. His former employers include NEC Corporation, Fujitsu, Nortel, Tellabs, and Lucent (Bell Laboratories). A senior member of the Society for Technical Communication (STC), Dr. Cunningham served terms as the Chicago regional chapter's vice-president and president. He is also a member of the Association for Teachers of Technical Writing (ATTW), the Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication (CPTSC), and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).



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