The School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering first established its in-house Technical Communications Program in 1996 in response to an increasing demand for excellence in written and oral communication, not only within Georgia Tech itself, but also in the engineering workplace. Having an in-house communications program that supplements the required Freshman Composition program at Tech allows a greater focus on ChBE-specific communication practices and standards.
Since 2002, Jacqueline Mohalley Snedeker has directed the Technical Communications Program and has expanded its scope to include both undergraduate and graduate students. One key aspect of the program is its integration of communication instruction into the core ChBE curriculum. Rather than simply teaching a stand-alone communications course, Jacqueline collaborates with other ChBE faculty to incorporate instruction on written and oral communication into required undergraduate courses such as the Unit Operations Lab. She also gives “guest lectures” on technical writing in courses such as GT1000, an introductory ChBE course for first-year students. At the graduate level, Jacqueline co-teaches a graduate communications course with Chuck Eckert, a ChBE professor. She also offers technical writing workshops and helps students with proposals and articles.
The main goals of the Technical Communications Program are for students to
understand the importance of communication in “real-world” chemical and biomolecular engineering,
gain familiarity with the discourse of the field,
target documents and presentations to the appropriate audience,
organize documents in a clear, concise, and logical fashion,
solve problems and make a persuasive case through critical thinking, and
identify and correct stylistic and grammatical flaws in their writing.
Unit Operations Lab
Skills taught include “how to write a technical report” and “how to create an effective oral presentation.” These skills are taught through workshops and lectures, individual writing conferences, evaluation of technical lab reports and oral presentations, and mandatory revisions of reports.