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Technical Communication

Blakely 2012 winnersDefined as “the creative use of language and design to accommodate people and technology, including writing, editing, graphics, and publications management,” technical and professional communication is a course of study that prepares students for a diverse array of rich and rewarding career opportunities. Our majors routinely find employment in business and industries such as engineering, healthcare, and software development.

Because successful completion of this concentration involves such a deep and varied engagement with the nature of language in relatively formal settings, students pursuing careers in law and education also find this concentration useful. Other students find that the undergraduate study of professional and technical communication leads them to pursue graduate studies in technical communication, rhetoric and composition, literature, communications, or information science.

The Department of English works closely with the East Tennessee Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication (STC-ETC) to provide students with opportunities to connect with professionals in the field of technical communications. The Society of Technical Communication (STC) has a diverse membership including technical writers, editors, graphic designers, multimedia artists, web designers, translators, printers, publishers, educators, and students in a variety of technological fields. With 15,000 members worldwide, the STC is the largest professional organization serving the scientific and technical communication profession.

In coordination with the STC-ETC, the English department awards the J. Paul Blakely Scholarship, which recognizes excellence in the areas of technical communication and science writing. In October 2012, the English department assisted in the organization and hosting of the STC-ETC Practical Conference on Communication.



Business and Technical Writing (English 295). Principles of written and spoken communication in science and business.

Advanced Technical and Professional Writing (English 360). Resumes, process descriptions, sets of instructions, descriptions of mechanisms, recommendation reports, abstracts, proposals, and major reports. For students planning careers in industry, education, and government.

Technical Editing (English 460). Grammar & mechanics, copyediting, style, organization, graphics, electronic editing, professional concerns. Major portfolio assignment. Essential for students planning to work as technical editors.

Writing for Publication (English 462). Principles and practices of writing for publication. Dissertations, theses, articles, and reports in science and technology. English majors who take this course develop their skills as writers, teachers, and editors by coaching graduate students who are writing in other disciplines. 

Writing, Layout, and Production of Technical Documents (English 466). Principles of page design, typography, and layout. Using scanners, electronic art, and DTP software. Conducted in a PC computer lab.

Special Topics in Writing (English 484). Content varies. Focuses on specific genres or problems (for example, “Rhetoric, Ethics, and Technical Communication”).

Special Topics in Writing (English 582). Content varies. Director of graduate studies must approve enrollment.

Readings in Applied Rhetoric (English 588). Content varies (for example, writing across the curriculum, writing centers, technical communication). 

Studies in Technical Communication (English 684). Content varies. Advanced work in technical communication history, theory, and practice.

Special Topics (English 690). Content varies. Advanced work in technical communication history, theory, and practice.

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