My Three Pieces

Writing Piece 1

RAB Summary

Betty Samraj and Lenore Monk conducted a qualitative research study on the genre of “personal statement” or “statement of purpose.” This genre is unmentioned by Swales, and only a few studies existed before their research. They describe the genre as and occluded genre, as it is not one most linguists consider. The data for their study was gathered from successful statements of purpose submitted to master’s programs in three departments, Linguistics, Electrical Engineering and Business Administration. Their different methods of research included websites, surveys, books and interviews. They then analyzed various areas of composition, which included functionality of the statement, organization, approaches taken, and crucial information included and left out. Their conclusions and results include specifically focusing on cross-disciplinary differences and on statements written for entrance to master’s programs.

Their goal for the study was the analysis of statements of purpose submitted to different departments under the knowledge equipped by disciplinary specialists. They first start their study with a survey of print and electronic resources of the personal statement writing process. They particularly selected 10 websites that purported to provide information for graduate programs based on common and specific knowledge. The websites fit into categories of websites that provided knowledge with a fee, websites seen to be electronic equivalents of text and websites generated by university career centers. They also chose books based on three categories; program not specified, programs specified as graduate programs and specific specialized programs. They did however find that not many books gave specialized advice to students in a specific disciple as most of it gave vague and generic descriptions. They also conducted one interview with one informant from each category of someone important in the graduate admissions process. The authors intended to gather information from common and most prevalent sources just as prospective applicants would find them. They did however find that not many books gave specialized advice to students in a specific disciple.

Within their report they include three tables to supplement their studies. Table 1 gives a representation of the number of statements analyzed from each program from both native English speakers, and non-native English speakers. Table 2 gives a representation of types of handbooks and guides for prospective graduate students in different levels. Table 3 seems to give the most significant information as it draws out the moves and steps in statement of purpose from the three programs. This table shows the reader the exact things they noticed in the evaluation of the personal statements examined from real applicants.
The two authors then conclude their research with appropriate deductions and findings from their research. They find that the statements from the three disciplines in the study include the two main rhetorical moves: Background and Reason for Applying. What is more interesting, however, is how these topics are vastly different among the three disciples. This may mean that what an Electrical Engineer and Linguistics applicant consider appropriate background information are vastly dissimilar, as many would have thought background information can only mean one thing. The also conclude that the Electrical Engineering and MBA statements seem to be the most distinctive from each other. Also, the interview with the informants from the Linguistics and Electrical Engineering departments generated some contrasting views on the lack of information on the writing of this genre. The engineering informant spoke on the ramification that the applicant should “know” what to say while the Linguistics informant recognized the nature of the occluded genre.

Ultimately, this study supplemented prior studies by the addition of different inter-disciplinary research. Their findings show that, although statements from the three disciplines may contain the same rhetorical moves, they differ in the basic steps used to realize some of the moves. These results lead to suggestions for EAP instruction and also for master’s programs imploring statements from prospective graduate students.

Full RAB entry:

Writing Piece 2

The Engineering Mindset

Growing up with many engineers in my family, I would always hear that “engineers think differently.” To me, this means thinking innovatively to solve problems. Creative ideas particular to the person, solving problems with limited resources and completing projects efficiently are all part of this picture. Engineers carry the mindset of “How can I make this better?” on and off the job. When thinking about this notion, I can best describe it as “un-cookie cutter.” Just as you cannot pinpoint exactly what makes an engineer, it is difficult to say exactly what type of writing they will use in their careers because it will be different for each individual.

In the field of Biomedical Engineering, this style of thinking corresponds to the kinds of writing done in the career. As Biomedical Engineering is a compilation of Electrical, Mechanical and Chemical Engineering as well as medical and biological principles, each engineer tends to have a particular main focus with emphasis in one of these. Some include therapeutics, biotechnology, medical devices and diagnostics. Since the field it self has much flexibility the types of writing done by two separate biomedical engineers will vary. Also, this is true because the job of a Biomedical Engineer (BME) may vary as some BME jobs include designing instruments, devices, and software, bringing together knowledge from many technical sources to develop new procedures and some conduct research to understand the human body and solve clinical problems. Based on what the objective of their work is, the writing done will differ. A common thread that any BME will need is the writing, recording and explanation of the work they are doing. This writing can be in the form of a lab report, published essay, instructional manuals and even power point presentations.

I have come to the understanding that writing and thinking like a professional come after experience. “Professionalism,” does not come from a diploma or award per se, but comes from the application of knowledge and experience of work in the particular to the field. I have seen this in particular at an American Society of Civil Engineer (ASCE) meeting I attended one month ago. I saw a presentation on a local highway project, and out of about 200 people in the room, I was the only non-engineer. Although I felt intimidated being there, I begin to start conversation with the engineers at the table, and one of the first things I noticed was the degree of professionalism and conversation amongst them. When the presentation began, I noticed this in the speaker, as well as in the writing of the program. They used scholarly language and terms, but never too much that I did not understand; it seemed to be the perfect mix. I noticed great explanation and support in the presentation and writing in the program. Also in this conference, the greatest thing that I noticed was the organization of the topic, presentation, writing, and delivery of the overall civil engineering event. Although I am not a Civil Engineering major, at this conference I learned about the types of skills and writing required in this professional field, and I can also very much assume the same skill and operation about how biomedical engineering presentations would be conducted.

This conference especially allowed me to see first hand the application of writing skills in effect in the professional world. If I were to put myself into the speaker’s shoes, I wonder how I would do! I spectacle if I will have the skills the speaker had in order to complete his presentation. Some of the skills I saw needed which I think I have as a writer were organization, clarity in explanation, appropriate support for an argument and oral presentation of material. As a writer, I see myself always seeking to make my writing different in some way, and always trying to improve. I have a habit of trying to never have two pieces of writing be the same in purpose and composition, but always making everything unique and different from the other pieces. I feel like my strengths in writing coincide with notion of “thinking like an engineer,” because I see myself applying the same mindset to my writing assignments.

Writing Piece 3

The Playground

Never would I expect to find a picturesque and lighthearted piece of artwork meant to jump, run and slide on. While exploring the boundaries of Times Square, I saw something that caught my attention. At first glance, I was not quite sure what it was. I was confused to see children running around it, on top of it and beneath it; all while their parents calmly watching with smiles. This made me fascinated, and strained to check it out myself. The public art I came across turned out to be, Tom Otterness' sculpture of a sitting man doubling as a piece of art and playground for children.  This large, brass colored sculpture, titled “Playground,” was finished in May 2009 in a public park in front Larry Silverstein's Silver Towers on W. 42nd Street, between 11th and 12th Avenue.

The sculpture of a man has slides for legs, seats for hands and arms a child can easily climb. It is conveniently placed around soft synthetic grass, a plethora of tables and benches, and even an endearing petite dog park to its left. The structure has miniature silhouettes of children placed throughout different parts of the man’s body, which gives it an alluring atmosphere to play in. The playground sculpture is recommended for children ages 5-12, and has passed a safety inspection, transforming it from an ordinary sculpture to an enjoyable and exciting piece of interactive art. 

This piece of art is worth our attention because it is distinctive and atypical. As we see playgrounds in parks very frequently, most are typical slides, bridges and ladders. I cannot say I have seen anything like Tom Otterness’s creation. If this park had a standard playground adjacent, I am sure 10 out of 10 children would choose to play on this unique conception of public art instead of the conventional one. After all, public art is supposed to engross individuals, and capture them to find out more. When walking by this structure, one cannot help but explore closer. Child or adult; every person sees something fascinating in it. Children adore it because they can simply scramble, run and climb on it, while adults love it because it provides a pleasurable, new environment and shape to their child’s play. Many would agree it is inimitable, amusing and fun to be around a playground with this structure. Public art that can clutch the attention of all ages is truly amazing, and this piece perfectly embeds that concept. 


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