Why You Need to Write

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Posted on 05 Feb 2013 02:34

“ Please bind these reports.” These are words I heard frequently when working at a civil engineering firm. At first I thought nothing of it, then I realized that for an engineer, whoever is writing this is writing a lot more than what I thought an engineer normally would. That is when I set out on an office hunt to find the author of these reports. The responsible, was a fellow intern whose job was to compile many different files into one holistic report to be shown to the client. It was interesting to sit and look over the different things that went into these reports from drawings and plans, to pages of explanation on the status of the soil that is the basis of this construction site. This is just one way in which civil engineers use technical writing in their day to day lives. Not to mention that anytime somebody goes on a site they have to document their time, and what they found. All this writing must be extremely clear since at some point it will all be used to piece together the report.

Some days I imagine my life as a civil engineer devoid of writing; truth is writing and speech are two things that will forever be important in any career. When a building is at stake though, writing becomes just a bit more important as far as instructions go. From writing emails to reports, writing has become quite essential. Working at a civil engineering firm I saw just how much writing was important in the office. So much so that there were a couple of office staff that had English majors and would be asked to look over reports. A typical day of a civil engineer through the use of writing may include going over and replying to emails from clients, bosses, and fellow coworkers. Then a civil engineer must work on their current project which would entail going out to site and clearly documenting their findings. Or a person might need to use AutoCAD to draw out plans that come with instructions to be found in the report to accompany the picture. The reason writing is so important is that it is the bridge between the engineer and the client and, or other workers.

I work quite systematically as a writer, and I usually tend to follow some sort of outline or draft. Therefore when reading “Communication in the Technical Workplace” I was slightly excited to attempt to write these types of these reports since there structure makes it simple to understand what kind of information is needed. As stated in the book as well, it makes the research a lot simpler as well since you know what you need to fill the pages with. Though I have a long way to go with my writing I am excited to graduate from meaningless book reports to career specific writing projects. It is exciting to know that for the first time I am actually doing something that I am actually going to need and use every day in my life as a civil engineer.

On a slightly different note, the things we learn here are not only things that we will need for our career. But for the future in general, some practical examples might include lab reports, or even our senior projects; thesis statements and research findings. These are all things that will require technical writing skills that are essential to the work we do as engineers. Writing in general is crucial for civil engineers because of the importance of communicating between the different people working on a common project. It is imperative that there is the utmost sense of communication both in the technical and practical sense.

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