Developing a Research Statement

Director of the Hanson Center,
College of Engineering
Technical Writing is Not
a “Soft Skill”
Why does the College have its own Writing Center?
Professional engineers tell us that at least 7O% of
their work involves writing and public speaking.
Success in engineering requires communicating
to multiple audiences: fellow professionals,
decision-makers, and the general public.
The Zen
of Technical Writing
Engineers achieve clarity and precision through
drafts, feedback, and revision.
No document is too small to be written with
Writing is a feat of verbal engineering achieved
by logical, goal-oriented problem-solvers.
The Science of Revision:
Filtering Noise Out of Sentences
Noise is any element of writing that impedes
your reader’s comprehension. For example…
“Pour the concrete when it is above 40°F.”
“Our intention is to implement the verification
of the reliability of the system in the near
Noise Undermines Your
“Frerebeau (4) in this experiment recognized
the significance of recognizing visual cures
while driving to the safety of the drivers.”*
*Anonymous Student, 2004
Suggested Revision
“In this experiment, Frerebeau (4)
demonstrated the significance of visual cues
for enhancing driver safety.”
From the Sentence to the
Effective paragraphs exhibit—
Unity: singleness of purpose.
Focus: a strong topic sentence and
supporting evidence.
Flow: transitions from one sentence
to the next, from familiar to new information.
Examples of Clarity (1)
“The design of any device is fraught with failure.
Indeed, the way engineers achieve success in their
designs is by imagining how they might fail. If gases
escaping from a booster rocket can lower
efficiency or cause damage, then O-ring seals are
added. If the friction of re-entry can melt a
spacecraft, then a heat shield is devised.”
Petroski, H. (2003, August 29). Failure is always an option. New York Times.
Retrieved September 11, 2003, from
Examples of Clarity (2)
“Pure, unalloyed metals are often soft and of low
strength, and therefore of limited use in everyday
applications. Solid solution alloys are harder and
stronger because distortions in the crystal
structure introduced from different-sized atoms
makes deformation more difficult. For both types
of metals, as grain size is reduced their hardness
and strength increases.”*
*Anonymous Student, 2005
Mastering the Art
of Technical Communication
By eliminating noise in your documents, you
achieve clarity and precision.
The greatest merit in writing is for your words
to disappear into the thought.
Thank You
Write Well and Prosper