Phillips 66 Technical Communications Program

OVERVIEW

The Phillips 66 Technical Communications Program in ChBE at Georgia Tech provides students with the communication skills they need to be successful in the 21st century workplace. Having an in-house communications program that supplements the required Freshman Composition program at Tech allows a greater focus on industry-specific communication practices and standards.

Since 2002, jacqueline.snedeker [at] chbe.gatech.edu (Ms. 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, Ms. Snedeker collaborates with other ChBE faculty to incorporate instruction on written, oral, and visual communication, as well as critical thinking, into required undergraduate courses such as the Unit Operations Lab. She also provides instruction on technical communication in courses such as GT1000, an introductory ChBE course for first-year students, and Product Design. 

GOALS

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.

ACTIVITIES

Unit Operations Lab

Skills taught include how to write technical documents such as lab reports, how to create an effective oral presentation, and how to think critically about experimental results.  These skills are taught through workshops and lectures, individual writing conferences, and evaluation of technical lab reports and oral presentations. 

Communications Skills for Technical Problem Solving (graduate elective)

Co-taught with Dr. Charles Eckert, this course features a workshop style in which students are encouraged to review and critique one another’s work in a non-competitive environment. Students write several types of documents, including an abstract, a memo, and a short technical article; each written document is paired with a presentation tailored to a specific audience.