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Engineering Design as Translation

Consider engineering as an act of translation, generating and applying different representations (words, models, equations, diagrams, etc.) to the practices of design and problem solving. The engineer perpetually moves between the world of theory and reality, and each step in between requires translation. As they design, they must also negotiate the different language(s) of their stakeholders to develop nuanced and complete requirements. They must also move between the different languages of different disciplines, as an electrical engineer will envision things quite differently from a mechanical engineer.

This was Professor Jason Foster’s message in our second plenary talk at ProComm 2018. As we seek to understand certain phenomena, design problems, and the world around us in general, we often have to move between different representations (Figure 1) to find an answer or a solution. A textual problem may require a drawing, which may then necessitate a simplified drawing, that will allow for an initial and subsequent mathematical representations, which we can then turn into a textual or verbal answer. As we move between each of these steps, we are effectively translating between different languages, and our ability to find a solution requires us to move between these different domains.


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Lecturer / Senior Lecturer Position in Engineering Commmunications Program – Cornell University

The Engineering Communications Program (ECP), in the College of Engineering at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY invites applications for a Lecturer or Senior Lecturer position. This non-tenure track position, teaching engineering communications, is a … [Continue reading]

Assistant or Associate Professor-Professional & Technical Writing: Colorado University

The University of Colorado Colorado Springs invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant or Associate Professor and Director of the Professional and Technical Writing Program (PTW) to start August 2019. The mission of the PTW program is to … [Continue reading]

Candidates on Slate for 2019–2021 AdCom

A slate of five candidates for election to the PCS Administrative Committee (AdCom) for 2019–2021 has been announced. Brian Ballentine, West Virginia University Brian.Ballentine@mail.wvu.edu Darina Slattery, University of Limerick … [Continue reading]

Call for Proposals: 8th Annual Symposium on Communicating Complex Information (SCCI)

February 25-26, 2019 Louisiana Tech University/Shreveport-Bossier City, LA Paper and panel proposals due Friday, 26 October 2018 Poster proposals due Monday, 15 January 2019 Call for Proposals The organizers of the Symposium on Communicating … [Continue reading]

3Q18 Issue of IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication

The September 2018 issue of the IEEE Transactions on Professional Communicationhas recently been published online. If you are a paper subscriber, you will receive the issue, printed together with the December issue, in early December. Volume 61, … [Continue reading]

Review of Engineering Justice: Transforming Engineering Education and Practice

The first review of the IEEE Professional Communication Society - Wiley book Engineering Justice: Transforming Engineering Education and Practice has arrived, and the reception is very positive. In her review for the International Journal for … [Continue reading]

Thinking of your Presentation as a Performance

By Lydia Wilkinson Oral presentations can strike fear into the hearts of many an engineer. This discomfort is something all actors have had to deal with at some point, and that the discipline has developed strategies to address. Performers think … [Continue reading]

Updated Due Date: Special Issue on User-Generated Content and Its Effects on the Profession (December 2019)

Proposals for the IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication Special Issue on User-Generated Content and Its Effects on the Profession (December 2019) are now due June 15th, 2018. Please see the original CFP for more information. … [Continue reading]

Do “I-statements” Help or Hinder Communication in Professional Contexts?

In her internationally best-selling book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, advises women to “speak your truth” but to do so in an appropriate, yet non-threatening way—to be “not brutally … [Continue reading]