Engineering work is critically dependent upon communication skills. Engineers must be able to report their ideas and designs clearly and succinctly to their coworkers, supervisors, and customers. The format of engineering communications can vary widely, from summaries of calculations, to short technical memos, to complete written reports, to oral presentations, to drawings describing data or machinery. The undergraduate curricula of the MechE Department include instruction in all of these formats.
This web page provides guidelines for technical communication for students in the Mechanical Engineering Department. Five general types of communications are considered:
Departmental subjects that involve extensive education in communication include: 2.671, taken in the sophomore or junior year; 2.009 and 2.019, taken in the senior year; and 2.672, taken in the senior year.
The MechE faculty regard the development of good communication skills as an essential learning outcome of our undergraduate programs. More importantly, our alumni universally report that good communication skills are absolutely essential to their work, no matter what the field of endeavor.
These documents describe basic guidelines for formatting problem sets. Please note in particular the need to be legible and the fact that giving numbers without showing their units is the same as giving a wrong answer. Also note that homework should not be turned in on scrap paper from the Athena printers.
The Preparation of Engineering Problem Sets
Sample Problem and General Advice for Homework
Mya Poe, Effective Written Communication: Storyboarding a Technical Report
Nicole Kelley, Sentence Structure of Technical Writing
David Gordon Wilson,
Barbara Hughey, 2.671 Report Guidelines
Wai K. Cheng, Guide to Writing 2.672 Analytical Reports
Leslie C. Perelman, James Paradis, and Edward Barrett, Mayfield Handbook of Technical and Scientific Writing
AIP Style Manual, 4th ed.
Leslie C. Perelman, Effective Oral Presentations
Atissa Banuazizi, Creating Your BE.109 Presentation
Michael Alley, Rethinking the Design of Presentation Slides
James C. Garland, Advice to Beginning Physics Speakers
Lab and design notebooks are required in 2.671, 2.017J, 2.007, and 2.009.
Ian W. Hunter and Barbara Hughey, Instructions for using your lab notebook
Graphical presentation of data is taught in 2.671 and 2.672. Mechanical drawing and CAD/CAM skills are taught in 2.007, 2.008, and 2.009.
Gareth H. McKinley, Some Helpful Hints in Preparing Scientific-Quality Plots for Reports by Hand or by Using Excel
The Design Handbook includes an introduction to engineering drawing and downloadable graph paper.
An interactive version of the Design Handbook engineering drawing tutorial is available from OCW in the EDICS package.
A collection of on-line style manuals is given on these MIT Libraries web pages: