Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Subject: LCSH

Technical writing, Engineering--Study and teaching


Chemical Engineering | Engineering Education | Mechanical Engineering | Operations Research, Systems Engineering and Industrial Engineering


The Project to Integrate Technical Communication Habits (PITCH) is being implemented across seven engineering and computer science undergraduate programs. The overarching goal of PITCH is to develop written, oral and visual communication skills and professional habits in engineering students. PITCH activities begin in the very first semester and are reinforced and extended through all four years of each program. Senior design becomes the culminating experience in which students demonstrate the skills and habits acquired through PITCH courses. Student outcomes for the project were established based on an extensive survey of employers, alumni and faculty. Communication instruments include technical memoranda, poster presentations, oral presentations, laboratory reports, proposals, and senior design reports. In addition to text elements, the use of tables and graphics also are addressed. Advice tables, annotated sample assignments and grading rubrics are being developed for each instrument to assist students in their work and facilitate consistency in instruction and assessment across multiple instructors teaching different course sections. Within each of the seven programs, specific courses within all four years are targeted for implementation and assessment of technical communication skills. Roadmaps showing the target courses, and the instruments deployed and outcomes to be learned in each course are made available to students in each program. The different communication products are distributed across courses as appropriate, and the skills are developed at deeper and deeper levels as students progress through the years. Two critical and distinctive features of the project are that technical communication skills are fully integrated into the content of regular engineering courses and are taught by regular engineering faculty. These features will make PITCH sustainable over the longer term. In the first year of the project, 16 engineering and computer science faculty were trained by an external consultant through summer workshops to deliver and assess the technical communication instruments in their courses. All PITCH assignments submitted by students are being archived and will be used in a longitudinal assessment of the effectiveness of the project as the first cohort of students who started in fall 2012 near graduation. PITCH is funded by the Davis Educational Foundation and is designed to be self-sustaining after the three-year period of grant support. This paper describes the approach used, lists the PITCH student outcomes, and provides examples of the PITCH roadmaps, as well as the resources provided to students and faculty.


© 2014 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference.

Publisher Citation

Harichandran, R. S., & Adams, D. J., & Collura, M. A., & Erdil, N. O., & Harding, W. D., & Nocito-Gobel, J., & Thompson, A. (2014, June), An Integrated Approach to Developing Technical Communication Skills in Engineering Students. ©2014 American Society for Engineering Education. Paper presented at 2014 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference, Indianapolis, Indiana.