Professional communication and a 'whole new mind': Engaging with ethics, intellectual property, design, and globalization
This paper describes a new cross-curricular design for an engineering communication course based on four themes: (1) ethics, accountability, and professionalism; (2) intellectual property; (3) design, creativity, and invention; and (4) globalization. It is believed that the thematic structure creates both dynamic and contemporary contexts for writing and research along with enough freedom to pursue individual student interests. The result is a higher degree of intrinsic motivation for the assignments. The course is a collaborative effort between an English department and a school of engineering designed to both improve curriculum and provide more assessment data for engineering accreditation. Among the criteria from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) is the “ability to communicate effectively.” Along with satisfying this criterion, the course discussed in this paper details how to capture data in support of an additional four of ABET's criteria known as “a–k.” After highlighting these ABET criteria and giving an overview of the structure of the course, the paper details each theme, including their respective readings and assignments. This new course was taught for the first time in the 2006–2007 academic year, and the paper closes by weighing the outcomes and implications of adopting a similar format. The current version of the syllabus and reading list for this course are included in this paper.