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Curriculum for ENG 100B Leadership
Technical Writing/Communication, UC San Diego

Spring Quarter, April 2-June 6, 2012
Class meets Mondays and Wednesdays, 9:00-9:50AM, Social Science Building #106

Week of Quarter Session No. Date Topic In-class Presentation Material Homework When Homework Is Due
1st - April 2 1 4/2/12

Class administration

Why communication is an important life skill; communication skills employers look for in college graduates

(class presentation)

Class reading assignments:

Writing to Learn, William Zinsser

Style and Ethics of Communication in Science and Engineering, Jay D. Humphrey and Jeffrey W. Holmes; I can provide a PDF of this book)

Reader that you will buy from the UCSD book store: Selected writings from Explaining Research (Dennis Meredith), The Making of a Story (Alice LaPlante), The New Yorker, and The American Scholar

Read Zinsser, Preface and Part I, pp. vii - 76.

Write 250 words about yourself - your intellectual interests and passions. What scientific or technological issues, questions, or problems most interest you, and how do you think those interests will shape your life (from MIT website)? Write this for your instructor who is unlikely to be familiar with your field, so please be sensitive to and explain all jargon and acronyms. (This assignment will not be graded but rather serve as a benchmark for students' current writing level.)

Session 3
2 4/4/12

Identifying your audience, user-centered design (Purdue)

(class presentation)

  Reader: Meredith, Part I, Chapter 1, pp. 17-29.

Think about the broad range of audiences you're going to encounter: your advisor, technical peers, general educated (12th-grade) audience that knows nothing about your topic, program officer at a funding agency who does, business woman, clerk at the grocery, your grandmother, 5-year-old child, someone hard of hearing, etc. Write 250 words each for two very different audiences on the same technical topic (your academic discipline, your lab, your workplace, etc.). Identify those two audiences, then explain in 1-2 paragraphs how and why you tailored the topic, what considerations you had, and what choices you made in each case.

Session 4
2nd - April 9 3 4/9/12

Fundamentals of good writing

(class presentation)



Read Zinsser, pp. 79-124

Read Humphrey and Holmes, pp. 5-40.


Session 5

4 4/11/12

Review of a real-life example of good writing

Big Oil needs subsidies?, by Bill McKibben, LA Times, 4/5/2012

(class presentation)



3rd - April 16 5 4/16/12

Writing an "elevator speech"

The Perfect (Elevator) Pitch

(class presentation)


Write an elevator speech about your expertise as related to your Engineering major. What is special about you? Think how you would use this to get hired after graduation or for summer internship in your field. Focus on general issues. Read it aloud and time it to 30 seconds before submittal.

Session 6

6 4/18/12

Review of critique vs. criticism

Student presentations of their elevator speeches

(class presentation)

(notes on homework assignment #1)


  Read Zinsser, pp. 125-167.


Session 8
4th - April 23 7 4/23/12

Effective e-mail messages

(class presentation)





8 4/25/12

Common writing mistakes

(class presentation)

Review real-life writing example and start to edit it together as a class.

Finish editing the writing sample, then identify the problems you found and explain how you corrected them (e.g., the principles we've discussed in class). Please provide a clean (edited) version. If you use tracking changes ON, please accept the changes and e-mail me the clean version.

Read Zinsser, pp. 168-233.

Session 10
5th - April 30 9 4/30/12

Types of communication engineering students need to master; overview of proposals

(class presentation)

Provide outline for final exam culled from a current NSF program.

Read Humphrey and Holmes, pp. 40-76.

Read Ten Simple Rules for Getting Grants by Phil Bourne

Begin an outline for your final exam: Write a 1500-word funding proposal to secure funding for a project in your area of expertise.

Session 11

10 5/2/12

Elements of a paragraph (Purdue)

(class presentation)



Purdue's website


6th - May 7 11 5/7/12

Using creative writing techniques to enliven your writing: Shifting to the right brain

(class presentation)


Reader: The Making of a Story, pp. 107-127.

Take a lab report you've written in the past and rewrite it based on the principles discussed today. Write an additional few paragraphs explaining how you changed what you'd written previously and why.

Session 13

12 5/9/12 Guest speaker Dennis Meredith: Giving compelling presentations to lay and professional audiences

Meredith's website

View Phil Bourne's video: Ten Simple Rules for Good Oral Presentations

Reader: Meredith, Part II, pp. 39-79.

Read Humphrey and Holmes, pp.77-84.

Session 14
7th - May 14 13 5/14/12

Appropriate language (Purdue)

(class presentation)

Purdue's website



14 5/16/12

The difference between writing, editing, and copyediting/
proofreading, and why to separate these stages

Sample editing and proofreading exercise in class

(class presentation) 

David and Marvin edit each other's work.

Zoe edits Jessica's work.

Jessica edits Barbara's work.

Barbara edits Zoe's work.

Review difference between critique and criticism (see PPTs for Session 6). Edit a previous writing assignment (unedited!) of your class partner, present your analysis to him/her in person, and submit the edited version to me (using tracking changes on) including comments about the problems you found and how you fixed them. Please also discuss how your review went with the student whose work you edited. Plan to discuss your reviews in class May 23.

Session 16
8th - May 21 15 5/21/12

Review of lab report "story" assignment

(class presentation) 




16 5/23/12

Short discussion on the challenges of reviewing others' work and how the discussions went

What you read: The importance of reading good writing to inform your own writing

Writing concisely

(class presentation) 



9th - May 28 17 5/28/12
Memorial Day - No class (no makeup planned)
18 5/30/12

Working with Public Information Officers (PIOs)

(class presentation)


Working with Public Information Officers, by Dennis Meredith

Write 500 words on a topic in your major area for your PIO who is not familiar with it. Provide background information/context, why the topic is important, what's known about it, what the challenges are (what's not known, experimental difficulties related to the topic, current debates in the field, etc.), what your area of specialty is within the topic, etc. Identify questions the PIO is likely to have. In a few paragraphs, explain your thought process how/why you presented the information you did, what problems you were anticipating, and anything you learned from this exercise.

Session 19
10th - June 4 19 6/4/12

Writing journal abstracts

(Class presentation)  




Continue working on final exam: Write a 1500-word proposal to secure funding for a project in your area of expertise. Review research proposal outlines at NSF, NIH, etc.


20 6/6/12

Communicating across the generations: Traditionalists, Boomers, Gen X, and Gen Y

(Class video)


Finals week - June 11     Final exam   Write a 1500-word proposal to secure funding for a project in your area of expertise. See suggestions for structure in PPTs from Session 10. Monday, June 11, 5:00 PM, by e-mail to ssides@sdsc.edu