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Sam Chandler English 3302 SL Unit 5 Assignment 14 April 2014 Writing as a Platform for Communication At the beginning of this

semester my expectations for this class were low. I wasn’t happy about being forced to take a class in order to satisfy a requirement. Not to mention the fact that my experience with English classes in high school were negative, and part of my decision to major in Electrical Engineering was based on getting as far away from writing as possible. This opinion changed by the end the semester due to the units that were effectively outlined to directly relate English to my future profession. I learned that a large part of English is communication. Writing is one of the most effective methods of communication and without the ability to pass down knowledge effectively in engineering some of it will be lost. Writing as a form of effective communication in the engineering discourse was demonstrated in units one and two, while a more practical method of writing communication for professional and public documents was demonstrated in the service learning units three and four. The first unit revolved around stylistic research and analysis of a specific document published in the field of Electrical Engineering. The paper I analyzed was published in 2013 by the Old City Publishing Group and is titled Compressive sensing for Smart Grid Wireless Network, by Wei Song, Baoju Zhang and Xiaorong Wu. Reading this paper made me realize that there were a lot of assumptions that I made about this class that were wrong. I thought my writing ability was good enough to be able to write any document in my field but there were specific stylistic elements to these types of papers that were new to me. The organization of the

paper was very easy to follow and the formatting was made so you could easily jump to sections and scan the document for specific information. There was also well organized handmade figures that complemented most sections as well as mathematics to back every claim up. The paper seemed to have tackled their claims from every possible angle of mathematics, figures, and writing. Looking back at my final draft, I should have focused more on the stylistic elements of the paper instead of the actual research done. This was brought to my attention during revision club by a peer reviewer Jesse M. but I didn’t listen to all of his suggestions. He stated “I believe that what you need to do is go back and make observations about how the authors used language…” meaning that I should focus on more stylistic analysis in transition from my rough to final draft. An example of where I could have added more stylistic analysis to a section is when I talked about circuit diagrams in my paper. I say “Circuit diagrams breakdown the function of a device to a more technical perspective”(pg. 3). Then I proceed to neglect talking about what makes the diagram more technical. Following this, I should have specified that circuit diagrams offer a map of any electronic system where you can derive equations for every point on the diagram. The term “more technical” refers to mathematical relationships rather than words just describing the input and output. This unit helped me realized what I needed to do for the remainder of the course to exceed the goals listed. It is not enough to just glance over a topic. You have to back up every judgment in order to produce solid arguments. The second unit involved taking my stylistic analysis from the first unit and creating a similar literature review document based off research done in my own topic of choice. This was by far my favorite unit because it allowed me to learn about my own topic of interest and compile all of the information into a well-organized document. After looking through many

different topics I ended up picking cryptocurrencies because it was a topic that I already had interest in, but never bothered to look into all of the technicalities. This unit also helped me realize the benefits of starting writing early and coming back to it at a later time. My initial topic was cryptocurrencies with no specific focus but after reading my rough draft outline a few months later, I realized I needed to narrow it down into a more technical field. Specifically, the topics in my original outline ranged from the economics of cryptocurrencies to the computer securities ensuring their safety as funds. This problem of a large range of topics was something that I hadn’t even considered when I finished my first drafts. The result of letting my work sit while continuing to learn about different kinds of professional documents in the following units three and four allowed me to more critically assess my rough drafts. I personally thought my final draft was good but I knew there were areas where I could have had a better explanation and more analysis. For example in my summary section I make the connections between the mathematical analyses in the previous sections and I only graze the surface of the three types of securities I discuss previously in the paper. I say “ The only alternative to brute force hacking the offline wallet is for someone to directly gain access to the passcode via snooping around your computer” but I don’t go into specifics about what this means. The topic that I bring up in this statement is another security issue that I neglect to go over but if I limited my paper to just SHA-256 security I would have had the time to discuss it instead of Scrypt and Transport Layer Security protocols. The problem was that adding these extra sections would make my paper extremely long and I didn’t have time to really assess every detail. This also hints at another problem which could have been a too broad of a topic. In my paper I focused on three different computer securities and found myself only touching the surface

of each one. I believe I could have picked one of those three and created a more in depth literature review for my final draft. The service learning component of the class was very beneficial for understanding how I could help the Boston community with my knowledge of Electrical Engineering. The group that I worked with came up with two sets of documents for units three and four that were aimed at helping the English High School incorporate smart projector technology in their classrooms. We gave ourselves the title NU Integration due to our main job of integrating technology into the classrooms and our origin of Northeastern University. At first I wasn’t sure of the expectations of HOME Inc. but through the help of our group we came up with two solutions that seemed to be strong. The main problem that came with these incorporating the projectors was that most of the technology was intuitive but some of the older teachers were afraid of breaking it by experimenting. The technological handbook associated with the projectors were also lengthy and bland to read so it’s understandable that no one without a technology background would try to use them. NU Integration came up with an info graphic outlining the three simple steps needed to get the projector running and with an appealing layout to welcome newcomers to this kind of technology. For this unit I felt that since our group was so large and willing to work together, the revision club wasn’t as helpful as it was when we worked on documents alone. Our rough draft outlined the tasks assigned to each member of our group and the final draft packaged these ideas into a neat, appealing, simplified info graphic. Our final draft had some minor grammatical errors that needed improvement but in my opinion, the only way we could have improved the content of our final draft was with proper feedback from HOME Inc. which we never received. The next unit was aimed at advertising for the smart projector technology so teachers knew that the technology was available along with lessons and documents on how to use them.

The only problem that we ran into with this unit was the lack of feedback. We had no contact with HOME Inc. since the beginning of unit three, so we were blind to some of the specific needs for this project. Specifically, in our proposal two we make the assumptions that HOME Inc. has the time to follow through with our advertising idea. We also had to make the assumption that HOME Inc. wanted us to write an additional document instead of maybe elaborating on our previous one. Our rough draft was similar to our final draft because we felt that we had done all that we could for HOME Inc. without feedback. The final draft feedback from our professor Tom Akbari further proved that we really needed feedback from HOME Inc. to improve upon this draft. Professor Akbari states in his feedback “Is it (our project) equally adaptable to the presentation of all subjects”? We could have researched into this more if we had more information on which subjects these teachers would be using it for. From what we were told at the beginning of this service learning we made our best efforts to create documents to help implement these projectors in the English High School classrooms. This semester was an eye-opener for me. This was the first time I was able to have such a wide variety of choices for essays and documents and the freedom allowed me to really understand the place that English has in the engineering field. In the first two units I was able to learn about topics of choice in my field as well as grasp an understanding of engineering document style and structure. Units three and four offered a more practical use of technical writing in my discipline. I also learned that not every person you work with will return the favor of giving feedback for your work and sometimes you have to make assumptions to make progress in projects. Even if I won’t be writing advance technical papers in the future I will still have to convey knowledge to the community using a form of writing similar to what we studied in these units and I am glad that I finished this class giving my best effort in each unit.

Acknowledgments The author would like to thank J. Ascher, J. Michel, and H. Lin for constructive criticism during revision club. He would also like to thank I. Schaffer for being a great leader for Units three and four, the community engagement portion of this class.

Self-assessment Sheet Unit 5: Reflective Essay and Portfolio

Satisfactory

Shows understanding of the genres of writing in her or his academic discipline X and/or career path Shows understanding of the discourse of her or his discipline and/or career path Shows an understanding of the importance of audience and context and writes X with appropriate style and arranges documents in effective ways Displays confidence and facility with the processes of revision Offers written reflection on her or his writing, strategies for writing, and X community engagement X X

Portfolio Grade: A

Excellent

Good

Poor

Low