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How We Will Evaluate the Writing of Engineering Documents Keep it as simple as possible, yet no simpler. Albert Einstein what do they know? why are they reading? what expectations do they have? what biases do they have?

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How We Will Evaluate the Writing of Engineering Documents

Keep it as simple as possible, yet no simpler.

Albert Einstein


what do they know?

why are they reading?

what expectations do they have?

what biases do they have?

In engineering, the way that you write depends on the audience, purpose, and occasion

audience

occasion

purpose

format

formality

politics

deadlines

to inform

to persuade


This lecture present ways to avoid common errors of structure in writing

Structure

Organization illogical

Assertions not supported

Depth lacking

Section transitions abrupt

Illustration

Illustration not introduced

Illustration misplaced

Illustration not captioned

Language

Audience not targeted

Improper tone

Ambiguity

Needless complexity

Sentence variety lacking

Discontinuity

Form

Format not followed

Major error (RO, Frag)

Grammar error

Punctuation error

Usage error


One error of structure is not properly organizing the document

References

Appendices

Conclusion

If a man can organize his ideas, then he is a writer.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Results

Methods

Introduction

Summary

Title

EverestNews.com


The organization of a document is reflected in the headings, subheadings, and paragraphs


Heading

Experiment. The experiment for the project consisted of several specimens placed inside a recirculating wind tunnel. The specimens were thin-walled tubes of 304L stainless steel...

Avoid abrupt beginnings to documents or sections

Experiment. The specimens were thin-walled tubes of 304L stainless steel...


  • References

  • Armstrong, James, “Computer Engineering Laboratories Website at Penn State,” http://www.ee.vt.edu/cel (State College, PA: CSE Department, 2005).

  • Microchip Technology, “Specification Sheet DS11109G for the 28C64A” (Chandler, AZ: Microchip Technology, 1994), pp. 14-17.

  • Spasov, Peter, Microcontroller Technology: The 68HC11, 3rd ed. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2002), p. 243.

26

Each citation at the end of the report should refer to a reference listing in the text

Introduction

[Spasov, 2002]

1


This lecture present ways to avoid common errors of language in writing

Structure

Organization illogical

Depth lacking

Assertions not supported

Section transitions abrupt

Illustration

Illustration not introduced

Illustration misplaced

Illustration not captioned

Language

Audience not targeted

Improper tone

Ambiguity

Needless complexity

Sentence variety lacking

Discontinuity

Form

Format not followed

Major error (RO, Frag)

Grammar error

Punctuation error

Usage error


Procedures for Design

The second part of the laboratory called upon us first to read the level of a DIP switch and then to output that value to a TIL311 hex display. When the switch was open (state zero), the voltage was 5 V. Similarly, when the switch was closed, the voltage was 0....

To target the audience, write the procedures as a narrative, not a set of instructions

Procedures for Design

1.Load the contents of the A register into accumulator A and logically and it with $01.

2.If the result is equal to zero (meaning that the LSB of A was a zero), then branch to our inline ‘setlow’ routine, which clears accumulator A and puts it into the B register.


In formal reports, the tone should be professional

…At this point, we realized that we had neglected at every step to test the program on its own. When we did test the program disconnected from a personal computer, the program went berserk. To our astonishment, when we reentered Buffalo, we discovered that our program no longer existed where we had stored it. Therefore, we have no way of knowing what the HC11 had been doing, but it certainly had been up to no good.


In formal reports, the tone should be professional

…At this point, we realized that we had neglected at every step to test the program on its own. When we did test the program disconnected from a personal computer, the program went berserk. To our astonishment, when we reentered Buffalo, we discovered that our program no longer existed where we had stored it. Therefore, we have no way of knowing what the HC11 had been doing, but it certainly had been up to no good.

Informal: you, a lot, pretty straightforward


We examined four fuels: neat methanol, neat ethanol, methanol with 10% water, and ethanol with 10% water.

An ambiguity is a group of words that can have more than one meaning

We examined neat methanol and ethanol and methanol and ethanol with 10% water.


Syntax often causes ambiguities,especially with adverbs

Only I tested the Labrador for rabies yesterday.

I only tested the Labrador for rabies yesterday.

I tested the only Labrador for rabies yesterday.

I tested the Labrador only for rabies yesterday.

I tested the Labrador for rabies only yesterday.


We wanted to reduce the vibration of the fan at the exhaust because the exhaust ducting was cracking.

Word choice can also cause ambiguities

We wanted to reduce the vibration of the fan at the exhaust as the exhaust ducting was cracking.


After the display loop runs, it returns to check the status of the switch.

Not having commas after introductory phrases or clauses often causes ambiguities

After the display loop runs it returns to check the status of the switch.


Although engineers realized the design flaws in the Titanic soon after its sinking in 1912, the reasons for the severe damage inflicted by the iceberg remained a mystery until the Titanic’s discovery in 1985.

Also causing ambiguities are pronouns, particularly the pronouns it and this

Although engineers realized the design flaws in the Titanic soon after its sinking in 1912, the reasons for the severe damage inflicted by the iceberg remained a mystery until its discovery in 1985.


???????

Also causing ambiguities are pronouns, particularly the pronouns it and this

We wanted to load Port B with a 1 if the switch was high and with a 0 if the switch was low, which was easily done using a BRCLR statement with a mask of 1. This meant that if the low bit of Port A was clear, the code would output to Port B.


Inherent complexity:

Buffalo disassembler

detailed schematics

EEPROM

$006

Needless complexity:

facilitation, e.g., PORT A

Long noun strings

Sentences containing more than one idea

One common error in engineering writing is to make the writing needlessly complex

Content:

Ideas

Style and Form:

Writing


This study will consider why current solar energy

systems, such as Solar One, have not reached the

commercial stage and will find out what steps

we can take to make these systems commercial.

R.I.P.

Complex wording buries ideas

The goal of this study is to develop a commerciali-

zation strategy for solar energy systems by analyzing

factors impeding early commercial projects (i.e.,

SOLAR ONE) and by identifying the potential actions

that can facilitate the viability of the projects.


At high pressures (700 torr) and typical electrode gap

distances (1 mm), the electrical breakdown of

nitrogen was studied in

uniform fields.

Needless complexity can occur at the sentence level

The goal of the work was to confirm the nature of electrical breakdown of nitrogen in uniform fields at high pressures and

electrode gaps which approach those obtained in engineering practice, prior to the deter-mination of the processes which set the criterion for breakdown

in the above-mentioned gas in uniform and non-uniform fields of engineering significance.


In our study, we examined the electrical breakdown of nitrogen in uniform fields. For these experiments, the electrode gap distances were typical (1 mm), while the pressures were relatively high (760 torr).

The more challenging the idea, the more revisions are needed to clarify it

At high pressures (760 torr) and typical electrode gap

distances (1 mm), the electrical breakdown of

nitrogen was studied in

uniform fields.


Z

Z

Z

When sentence openers do not vary, the sentences do not seem to connect

Mount St. Helens erupted on May 18, 1980. A cloud of hot rock and gas surged northward from its collapsing slope. The cloud devastated more than 500 square kilometers of forests and lakes. The effects of Mount St. Helens were well documented with geophysical instruments. The origin of the eruption is not well understood. Volcanic explosions are driven by a rapid expansion of steam. Some scientists believe the steam comes from groundwater heated by the magma. Other scientists believe the steam comes from water originally dissolved in the magma. We need to understand the source of steam in volcanic eruptions. We need to determine how much water the magma contains.


Varying sentence openers allows for more kinds of transitions between sentences

Sentence 1

Sentence 3

Sentence 2

Topic of Sentence

Time or place of action

Manner of action

Subordinate action

Reason for action

Sentence


In minutes, the mountain emitted…

prepositional phrase

However, debate has arisen...

adverb

Although the exact time of the eruption surprised scientists, evidence had been collected...

dependent clause

Vary sentence openers to vary rhythm

Mount St. Helens erupted on May…

subject–verb


More sophisticated sentence openers exist

infinitive phraseTo understand the eruption, scientists have to...

  • gerundial phraseCalculating the amount of ash will require many assumptions.

  • dependent clauseHow the blast occurred remains as subjecta mystery.

  • participial phraseIts slope collapsing, the mountain emitted...


Varying sentence openers enlivens the writing and allows connections

Mount St. Helens erupted on May 18, 1980. Its slope collapsing, the mountain emitted a cloud of hot rock and gas. In minutes, the cloud devastated more than 500 square kilometers of forests and lakes. Although the effects of the eruption were well documented, the origin is not well understood. Volcanic explosions are driven by a rapid expansion of steam. Recently, debate has arisen over the source for the steam. Is it groundwater heated by magma or water originally dissolved in the magma itself? To understand the source of steam in volcanic eruptions, we need to determine how much water the magma contains.


To make connections, use transitional phrases early in sentences

Pause

Continuation

Reversal

Also,

Moreover,

First…Second...

For that reason,

Therefore,

For instance,

For example,

Strictly speaking,

In other words,

In effect,

However,

On the other hand,

Conversely,

Nevertheless,

Otherwise,

This shows...

This means...


…truss. This disregard for flexibility results in a low stiffness causing the natural frequency to be imprecise.

Successful

Transition

…truss. Not accounting for the flexibility results in a low stiffness causing the natural frequency to be imprecise.

Fluid

Transition

Replace the standalone “this” with a noun phrase that specifies the subject

The finite element modeling technique does not take into account the flexibility of the truss. This results in a low stiffness, which causes the natural frequency to be imprecise.

Weak

Transition


This lecture present ways to avoid common errors of illustration in writing

Structure

Organization illogical

Depth lacking

Assertions not supported

Section transitions abrupt

Illustration

Illustration not introduced

Illustration misplaced

Illustration not captioned

Language

Audience not targeted

Improper tone

Ambiguity

Needless complexity

Sentence variety lacking

Discontinuity

Form

Format not followed

Major error (RO, Frag)

Grammar error

Punctuation error

Usage error


*

*Pluto not considered here as a planet

Illustrations consist of tables and figures

Table 1. Physical characteristics of planets [Handbook, 1969].

PlanetDiameter (km)Year (earth days)

Mercury5,10088

Venus12,600225

Earth12,800365

Mars6,900687

Jupiter143,6004,333

Saturn120,60010,759

Uranus53,40030,686

Neptune49,50060,225


Illustrations consists of tables and figures

Figure 1. Static pressure versus flow rate for five settings on the inlet guide vanes. The circles show where the fan would operate for each setting.


..., as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Simplified schematic of hardware.

In formal documents, an illustration appears after the paragraph that introduces it

..., as shown in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1. Simplified schematic of hardware.


An equation is part of the sentence that introduces it

The goal of the project was to find the strain on the rim of an aluminum can. This strain, , was found from equation 1:

where  is the stress estimated by the computer code, and E is the modulus of elasticity.

,

(1)

=

E


This lecture present ways to avoid common errors of form in writing

Structure

Organization illogical

Depth lacking

Assertions not supported

Section transitions abrupt

Illustration

Illustration not introduced

Illustration misplaced

Illustration not captioned

Language

Audience not targeted

Improper tone

Ambiguity

Needless complexity

Sentence variety lacking

Discontinuity

Form

Format not followed

Major error (RO, Frag)

Grammar error

Punctuation error

Usage error


A run-on (RO) is the incorrect joining of two sentences with a comma

Rubidium is more common in the earth than zinc, copper, or nickel, however, rubidium has no major uses.

Correction:

Rubidium is more common in the earth than zinc, copper, or nickel. However, rubidium has no major uses.

Rubidium is more common in the earth than zinc, copper, or nickel; however, rubidium has no major uses.

Although rubidium is more common in the earth than zinc, copper, or nickel, rubidium has no major uses.


Past Tense:

Events that have already occurred

Present Tense:

Timeless details or details at time of reading

Future Tense:

Events that will occur after project

To decide upon the verb tense in a document, you first plant a reference flag for t = 0

t = 0

t

The pressure was...

For the experiment, we assumed…

Air is 79 percent nitrogen.

Figure 1 shows…

This section presents...

Future work will focus on....


what do they know?

why are they reading?

what expectations do they have?

what biases do they have?

In summary, the way you write depends on your audience, purpose, and occasion

audience

occasion

purpose

format

formality

politics

deadlines

to inform

to persuade


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