Nelsyda's Portfolio

Cover Letter

What you are about to see is a compilation of my smallest pieces and some of my most "risky" pieces. This portfolio shows the result of one years time writing in two freshman writing classes for engineers. The pieces from this semester were chosen for the sole purpose of showing what I can do as of right now, not what I did before in the last semester.

When I set up this portfolio I was thinking about two things:

  1. What was the first piece of this semester that made me proud?
  2. What are the riskiest pieces that I made?

Answering this question made me list them in order of first to least risky to the riskiest piece.

The first piece on this list is my blog post 1, "Engineering: Step-by-Step". This was one of the first assignments that I worked on and it was the one that combined what I learned about engineers and writing. I picked this one because it summed up exactly what I felt about writing and engineering: they are one in the same. Each writing assignment is a problem ready to be solved. All the writing engineers do is used to supplement the design projects that they are working on. In this class, we weren't working on design projects, but we did have specific tasks that we were working on completing through writing as you will see in the other pieces.

The second piece is a film review on the movie Apollo 13 (1995). One of the few tasks that was asked of us in the freebie assignments was to write a film review on a movie that features engineers and see how well it represents the engineering community. This was a small, simple piece, but difficult because of the word restraints and the mixing between popular mainstream media and the engineering world. This movie was an eyeopener for me because I have never seen so much attention to detail with regards to engineers in the workplace and the seriousness of the problem the engineers were solving. Putting it together in a few words was hard because so many motions ran through my mind.

The chosen third piece was a research paper done outside the class. It is not my best piece of work, but it was a tricky one to write. I was asked to write 10 pages minimum (with charts and tables) about my neighborhood while including certain things asked for in the task description distributed by my professor. This put my research paper skills to the test. How far can my knowledge of research and writing take me? Plus, if you read it I come up with my own conclusions based on my research with, honestly, felt like an adrenaline rush in the middle of writing the paper. The task itself was not super risky, but the design/writing choices I made were.

The midterm revision and the unit three project were my most riskiest pieces. Revising a piece while meeting previous goals and newly made goals is difficult. So is quantifying a syllabus study. The two biggest pieces will end this portfolio since both are my best works and also my riskiest works. Reading through them might reveal this risk to you.

I hope you enjoy looking through my portfolio. Have a great summer.


Nelsyda Perez

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Engineering: Step-by-Step [Blog Post 1]

To see the original page, click here.

We are already so used to hearing the same idea about the misconceptions of writing and engineering. All engineering majors have heard it. "If you wanted to major in engineering because you thought you wouldn't have to talk or write a lot then you are in for some bad news." Of course, now we are focusing on writing now more than ever, but what does it truly mean to write "like an engineer"? What do engineers write in general. Writing by engineers greatly differs from the writing you compose in English class. How so?

Well in order to understand what engineers write we must understand what engineers do. Engineers design solutions to problems while they are also given restrictions and conditions that must be satisfied. Civil engineers specifically design large construction projects that are meant to improve aspects of an urban community such as transportation, waste disposal, irrigation and so on. While they are planning out the construction project, civil engineers have to keep in mind the terrain on which they are working, the budget they are working with, the safety of fellow engineers as well as the safety of people in the surrounding area. After the project is planned out, simulated, tested and approved, civil engineers work on the construction project while also having specific engineers supervise the project as it is being completed.

The designing aspect might contain the most writing that you will see while working as an engineer. You will be responsible for writing at least one proposal to your supervisor before starting the project. You will also have to write analytical reports giving the details relating to the many test and simulations that you will have to do prior to the actual building process. The tests and simulations might (or will) result in rewriting new analytical reports as you have to meet a high standard when it comes to building a structure that will be effective but will also withstand the test of time. There are also the technical specifications listing the materials, the size descriptions and many other things that will result in a calculation of an initial estimated budget. All together you might be writing a little more than the minimum 25 pages you are expected to write for English 210.07. After the design process is complete you will have to write final specifications, blueprints and anything else that will help you and your construction team during the building process.

This is only a small interpretation of what working as a future civil engineer might be like. When you think of civil engineering you think "construction" almost immediately. While the construction part seems fun, behind the scenes there is a lot more that goes on. Without all the writing portions of the job there would exist a lack of communication, a lack of planning and a lack of knowledge about what is to be done before the actual construction project begins. Writing in the civil engineering field, as well as other engineering fields, promotes organization, collaboration and initial planning and practice, which is important for engineering in general.

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Engineering in Culture: Apollo 13 (1995) [Freebie Assignment]

To see the original page, click here.

Leading Cast: Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon, Gary Sinise, Ed Harris, Kathleen Quinlin
Director: Ron Howard
Writer(s): William Broyles Jr, Al Reinert
Genre: Drama, History

In mainstream media, it is hard to find a movie that emphasizes the importance of an engineer’s work. One film that not only brings in the much needed emphasis while also making the engineers the protagonists of the film is Ron Howard’s Apollo 13, based on a the book Lost Moon written by Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger.

Apollo 13 stars Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton and Kevin Bacon as astronauts Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert. After the successful landing on the moon by Neil Armstrong and the other members of his crew, NASA planned another trip to the moon, just as Europeans made repeated trips to America after discovery. The main crew was Jim Lovell as the Commander, Ken Mattingly (Gary Sinise) as the Command Module Pilot and Fred Haise as the Lunar Module Pilot. Jack Swigert replaced Mattingly as the Command Module Pilot due to the possibility of Mattingly contracting the measles. On the day of the launching of the Apollo 13, the astronauts were ready to reach their destination on the moon. Little did they know that an oxygen tank failure would set their original plans aside and force Lovell, Haise, Swigert, Mattingly all the engineers back at NASA to improvise and use their knowledge as engineers to save the three astronauts.

The first 30 minutes of this film focuses on eliminating the stereotypical "nerd image" of engineers. The writing and direction still gives a sense that the engineer is a perfection by way of the preparation for the Apollo 13 mission that we see going on; however most of the scenes in the first 30 minutes show Lovell establishing a relationship with his wife Marilyn, played by Kathleen Quinlin, and the rest of his friends and family. He is barely acting "nerd-like" during these scenes. Instead, Lovell acts like a neighbor you might have known at some point, or a neighbor you do know. One would have never guessed that he was an astronaut at NASA. Seeing Marilyn worry about her husband reminds you that Lovell, Haise and Swigert are not just nerds in space. They are real men with real families.

After those first 30 minutes, the Apollo 13 is finally launched and here is where we get the full-blown engineering aspect of this film. Lovell, Haise and Swigert constantly communicate their problems to Mission Control back at NASA. Mattingly and Mission Control, under the command of Lead Flight Director Gene Kranz (Ed Harris), are in charge of coming up with solutions to specific engineering problems using the flight simulator, whatever the crew on the Apollo 13 have access to, and nothing else. In this film, the engineers are the heroes. Their collaboration in communication, building and planning eventually helped save lives. From making a square filter fit a circular hole in order to prevent carbon dioxide from spilling into the ship, to coming up with an innovation in providing much needed energy to the ship, the engineers worked through every step in order to save Lovell, Haise and Swigert. The crew on the Apollo 13 also offers their own solutions to problems on the ship showing off how engineers, even in dire circumstances, provide for the team.

Apollo 13 is a film that all engineers must see. Because this film is made for a mainstream audience, there is very little confusion in terms of what is wrong with the ship and what is going on in general. The suspense and drama in this film allows the audience to feel for the protagonists of this story. The resolutions created by the engineering solutions become miraculous to the mainstream audience. To top it all off, we know, in the back of our heads, that the actors and scenes represent real life events that occurred in the past. As an engineering film, Apollo 13 presents engineers as normal people and as heroes in our everyday world.

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East Elmhurst: Calm, Peaceful and Historical [Outside piece from The Peopling of New York City course]

East Elmhurst, ironically located north of Elmhurst, is part of the Queens Community District 3 that also contains both North Corona and Jackson Heights. According to The Encyclopedia of New York City, East Elmhurst is bounded to the north by LaGuardia Airport, bounded to the east by Flushing Bay, bounded to the south by Northern Boulevard and bounded to the west by 85th Street [3].

The boundaries of East Elmhurst are hard to determine due to the possible overlapping of East Elmhurst with Jackson Heights and North Corona. However, certain places in East Elmhurst indicate the general shape the neighborhood where both The Encyclopedia of New York City and the common knowledge of the public indicate accurate determinations of the neighborhood boundaries. Even with the boundaries that I am working with there are still areas within the boundaries that label themselves as being in Jackson Heights or being in Corona.

Established in 1905, East Elmhurst was home to a large amount of stucco homes that were being built. East Elmhurst was a quiet residential area that some might consider being “semi-suburban” prior to World War II. Post-World War II marked the commercialism of the neighborhood caused by LaGuardia Airport [3]. Most of the people living in East Elmhurst were African American people that saw East Elmhurst as an area where they can live in peace without facing as much heavy discrimination as they did in other places. East Elmhurst was also home to many famous African Americans such as Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. Nowadays, East Elmhurst is filling up with more Hispanic/Latino people as the African American community starts to leave or die. Neighbors coexist peacefully and the newcomers assimilate well enough to not cause a ruckus.

Despite all of the commercialism that occurred near Ditmars Boulevard due to the close proximity to LaGuardia Airport, East Elmhurst barely changed in terms of the population living in the area. According to Joseph Berger of The New York Times, East Elmhurst is one of the most stable neighborhoods because the people living in the area since the 1970s are still living there if they are still alive [1]. This leads into a larger speculation of the general social class living in the area. When it comes to the ethnic backgrounds of the people living in the neighborhood, East Elmhurst is relatively diverse. According to a 5-year average calculated by the U.S. Census, the total population in East Elmhurst is about 21,980 people. Of that group of 21,980 people, 24 percent of them are white, 29 percent are black or African-American, 0.3 percent are Native Americans, 7 percent are Asians, 0.1 percent are Pacific Islander, 37 percent are people of other races besides the ones listed and 2.9 percent of the population consider themselves as being of two or more races [7]. The most interesting part of these statistics is the ratio of people that are of Hispanic or Latino background versus the people that aren’t of Hispanic or Latino background. 61 percent of the total population is Hispanic or Latino and 39 percent of the population is not Hispanic/Latino [7]. Of course, this contradicts the data given by the same survey with regards to the other races. One reason this discrepancy might exist is because of the way the survey collects this information. Recently, with all demographic surveys, there is a separate question asking whether or not you are Hispanic or Latino. Perhaps the census considers anyone who answered yes to the question was immediately considered to be Hispanic or Latino regardless on the other responses to the race questions.

Another significant characteristic of the neighborhood’s population is how there is a relatively even amount of immigrants in comparison to the indigenous people in the neighborhood. Each group makes up approximately 50 percent of the total population with slightly more immigrants than natives. At this point in time, it would make sense for the ratio of immigrants to natives to increase over time due to the increase in the mortality rate that is bound to happen as the older residents tend to age over time. With less people occupying East Elmhurst, naturally, the population of the area will level off as new immigrants occupy the now vacant space.

Ethnic Breakdown of the Total Population of East Elmhurst, NY (2006-2010 Census, ACG 5-year average)
Total Population
Total Population 21,980
Population By Race
Race No. of people (% of total population)
White alone persons 5,275 (24 %)
Black or African-American alone persons 6,380 (29 %)
Native American alone persons 59 (0.3 %)
Asian alone persons 1,529 (7 %)
Pacific Islander alone persons 29 (0.1 %)
Other race alone persons 8,073 (37 %)
Persons of two or more race 635 (2.9 %)
Hispanic/Latino Population
Classification No. of people (% of total population)
Not Hispanic/Latino persons 8,523 (38.8 %)
Hispanic/Latino persons 13,457 (61.2%)
Nativity No. of people (% of total population)
Native-born residents 9,964 (45.3 %)
Foreign-born residents 12,016 (54.7 %)

Source: United States. Department of Commerce. American Community Survey. Washington: Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, n.d. Received from <>. 14 May 2013.
This data includes the ethnic breakdown of the total population as well as how much of the total population is Hispanic/Latino and how much of the total population are natives and how much of the total population are immigrants.

Despite the stability of the population mentioned before, the people in the area do not earn much with respect to what others individuals in other areas are making on average. The median income for persons 15 years and older is roughly about $23,028 annually [7]. In other words, the average class status of the population lies within the lower middle class status of the United States [6]. The idea of social class is a hard one to tackle since the basis for social class tends to vary depending on the economic situation of the country, any specific regions of the country and, in this case, neighborhoods. East Elmhurst, in the year 2005, would most definitely be classified as a lower middle class neighborhood if the annual median income were what it is today. Economically, with the changes in the cost of living and the inflation rate, it is hard to determine where East Elmhurst lies economically. Though a more social analysis however, East Elmhurst still seems to lie within the lower middle class to working class even though the nation has changed so much since 2005.

The majority of East Elmhurst is employed according to the United States census data on East Elmhurst. That majority is made up by mostly people in their 30s and 40s, but as people in specific age groups tend to get older, there aren’t many people working anymore. For instance, only an average of 45 males 75 years and up were employed between the years 2006 and 2010. At the same time, the amount of males on average not in the labor force increased to an average of 340 people [7]. This is probably due to retirement or inability to continue working. Now given the fact that most of the people who settled in East Elmhurst during the 1970s still live in the neighborhood, it is safe to assume that there are many people 65 years and up living in the area [1]. Recently, after taking a tour of the neighborhood, I have seen about four of the senior citizens living in the area die in their homes due to old age. Obviously, those senior citizens were not working due to their inability to work; however, the seniors that are still working in their jobs are also about to die or have died recently. This doesn’t change the individual income of the other residents. What it does change is their class status when looking at it in terms of personal income and the average income of East Elmhurst in general. As people tend to age, they might have a harder time earning a living depending on their situation. Therefore, their class status, more or less, changes since the cost of living has increased over the last few years. From this, I believe that East Elmhurst can be classified as a lower middle class area until the new residents start to occupy East Elmhurst.

Employment Status by Age (2006-2010 Census, ACG 5-year average)
Persons 16-64 years in armed forces 0
Persons 16+ years employed 11,117
Persons 16+ years unemployed 929
Persons 16+ years not in the labor force 5,892

Source: United States. Department of Commerce. American Community Survey. Washington: Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, n.d. Retrieved from <>. 14 May 2013.
The data was obtained by adding up the data for women and men together in a list of employment status based on age.

Most of the people in East Elmhurst work in the service industry and the sales industry. Other than that, there really is no heavy concentration in just one occupation. There does exist however a huge lack of people working in the armed forces most likely due to a lack of a military recruiting center in East Elmhurst. East Elmhurst’s service occupations vary between the laundry service industry to the food service industry to other jobs such as gardening and plumbing. There are also other businesses that made their mark in East Elmhurst. The Bulova Watch Company’s Corporate Center can be seen when entering East Elmhurst through Astoria Boulevard South or exiting East Elmhurst through Astoria Boulevard North. There is also an abundance of gasoline stations along Astoria Boulevard since Astoria Boulevard can serve as a connection to the Grand Central Parkway.

Occupational Breakdown (2006-2010 Census, ACG 5-year average)
Workers 16+ years in management, business, science and the arts 1,541
Workers 16+ years in service occupations 3,209
Workers 16+ years in sales and office occupations 2,870
Workers 16+ years in natural resources, construction and maintenance occupations 1,356
Workers 16+ years in transport, production and material moving 1,737
Workers 16+ years in armed forces 0

Source: United States. Department of Commerce. American Community Survey. Washington: Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, n.d. Retrieved from <>. 14 May 2013.
This data does not include self-employment as a category in this chart. One of the most predominant forms of self-employment in East Elmhurst is child daycare. Some of the houses south of Astoria Boulevard and north of Northern Boulevard act as the location of different at home daycare centers.

East Elmhurst is known for the private residential houses that remain geographically below LaGuardia Airport. They are simple houses that are mostly occupied by the elderly or the children of families that already established themselves at a specific house. These houses, according to the statistics, are held by mostly 2-3 family households and possibly 1-person non-family households. There are also many families made up of one married couple living in apartment buildings of two or more apartments. My parents as the landlords of their own apartment building have seen some of those married couples when renting the apartments out to people.

Household Type by Household Size (2006-2010 Census, ACG 5-year average)
2-person family households 1123
3-person family households 1213
4-person family households 953
5-person family households 830
6-person family households 414
7-or-more person family households 341
1-person non-family households 1054
2-person non-family households 155
3-person non-family households 18
4-person non-family households 22
5-person non-family households 19
6-person non-family households 49
7-or-more person non-family households 1
By Unit Structure
Married-couple families in a single family unit 926
Married-couple families in building with two or more apartments 1387
Married-couple families in mobile home or other type of housing 17
Male householders, in single family unit 367
Male householders, in building with two or more apartments 648
Male householders, in mobile home/other type housing 20
Female householders, in single family unit 531
Female householders, in building with two or more apartments 979
Female householders, in mobile home/other type housing 0
Non-family households in single family unit 462
Non-family households in building with two or more apartments 856
Non-family households in mobile home or other type of housing 0

Source: United States. Department of Commerce. American Community Survey. Washington: Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, n.d. Retrieved from <>. 14 May 2013.
The data provided came from two separate tables created on As a result, some of the conclusions made are speculative and try to meld the two sets of data into one.

Education is not the strongest aspect of East Elmhurst, but there is enough emphasis on education in the area. Early childhood learning is the most common form of education in East Elmhurst. Day schools like A Child’s Place exist to give children a form of pre-kindergarten education. There isn’t that many younger children taking advantage of the benefits of pre-kindergarten, but it is encouraged. Public schools within the area like P.S. 148 and P.S. 127 allow students to gain a primary education needed to go further. With P.S. 127 labeled as a magnet school and P.S. 148’s close proximity to a local middle school again encourages students to continue on in their education. The highest level of secondary education in East Elmhurst is I.S. 227, Louis Armstrong Middle School, or L.A.M.S as the students would call it. Named after local resident and famous jazz musician Louis Armstrong, Louis Armstrong Middle School has a prestige behind it as a model standards middle school. In addition to the prestige behind the school, students can only attend the school by application. There are exceptions to this policy such as a special placement examination given to students that demonstrate exceptionally high academic abilities in their elementary school.

There is no emphasis on higher education when it comes to the geography of East Elmhurst. The only institute of higher education in East Elmhurst is Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology, a school that specializes in anything having to do with aviation. Whether it be building planes or preparing to drive planes, Vaughn College is a school that appears to prepare you well. The specialization is appropriate because the school is located close to LaGuardia Airport. During my college selection process I applied to this school for their mechatronic engineering program as what others might call a “safe school”. The SAT scores and GPA one had to achieve prior to applying to Vaughn College are relatively low and do not require you to do anything fancy in order to get in. It is a college next door for most East Elmhurst residents but it is not the number one choice of college for most people.

East Elmhurst is a primarily Catholic neighborhood with every other religion in the area being practiced by less than 5 percent of the rest of the population [5]. The largest religious institution in the neighborhood is St. Gabriel’s Roman Catholic Church located in Astoria Boulevard and 98th Street. St. Garbiel’s takes up the majority of the block that it sits on. It is also home to a church school that is located in its own separate building within the church grounds. Most of the people that attend the church are the Hispanic or Latino community of East Elmhurst. Other religious institutions include the First Baptist Church and the Korean Methodist Church. Other religions are practiced in East Elmhurst, but you are most likely to meet a Catholic if you talk to any random person on the street. Of the entire population of East Elmhurst, 49.42 percent are religious.

Religion East Elmhurst, NY
Percent Religious 49.42%
Catholic 31.97%
LDS 0.47%
Baptist 1.24%
Episcopalian 0.41%
Pentecostal 0.83%
Lutheran 0.45%
Methodist 1.69%
Presbyterian 0.65%
Other Christian 2.48%
Jewish 3.93%
Eastern 1.65%
Islam 3.65%

Source: "Religion in East Elmhurst (zip 11369), New York." Sperling’s Best Places. Fast Forward Inc., n.d. Web. 15 May 2013.

The best part of East Elmhurst is the history behind the area. No, not the history of the housing and the families that were here since the 1970s. I am talking about the cultural history of the area. There were many famous residents such as Ella Fitzgerald and Willie Mays who lived on Ditmars Boulevard. One of the most notable residents, and a possible non-resident to East Elmhurst was Louis Armstrong. The reason I say that he might not have been a resident to East Elmhurst was because, based on the boundaries that I defined, Louis Armstrong was considered to be a resident of Corona, Queens. There are other resources that mention that Louis Armstrong was a resident of East Elmhurst and claim that his house is, in fact, located in East Elmhurst. This is probably due to the possible overlap that is occurring between the neighborhoods in Queens. As mentioned before, the East Elmhurst boundaries are not clearly defined because East Elmhurst, North Corona and Jackson Heights are considered as one big district rather than three separate neighborhoods. Even though there is a difficulty in evaluating whether or not the Louis Armstrong House is located in East Elmhurst, there is no doubt that East Elmhurst considers him to be a very important idol in the neighborhood. After all, they named a school after him. Louis Armstrong’s former house is considered to be a landmark and has been turned into a museum for others to see. The Louis Armstrong House Museum is a popular site for school trips since it can be accessed by foot and it is commemorating the life of a very popular jazz musician.

The Fair Theatre is another cultural area in East Elmhurst. Not much is known about the Fair Theatre currently due to the lack of people going into the theatre. This theatre featured low budget films exploitation films that tend to gain a cult following when they are distributed to home video cassettes. The movies you would expect to see in the Fair Theatre are older films that you most likely might not have heard of in your life. It was known as a grindhouse because of the low quality, low budget films that were shown to the public [4]. From what I have read, the Fair Theatre now features XXX films and maybe Bollywood films as well [4 and site ]. What I can determine from this is that the Fair Theatre is a mystery to us all. The only people who would know the theatre well are the people who have visited it in the past and people who might be visiting it now.

There are many public libraries in New York City, but this one is special as it encourages community feedback and input. The Langston Hughes Community Library is a large extensive library that provides textual references and community activities. Another popular location for class trips, the Langston Hughes Community Library helps children build up an interest in reading and expressing creativity through literature and the arts. When it is not trying to be full of fun activities for children, the Langston Hughes Community Library is just a normal public library. It is not as extensive as the New York Public Library, but it is the biggest library in East Elmhurst.

East Elmhurst is predominantly Democratic. The city government reflects most of the neighborhood politics. Politically, East Elmhurst lacks its own identity. Instead, it just blends into the city politics almost seamlessly. Because of the minority population of the East Elmhurst neighborhood, most of the residents are siding with the Democratic Party because of the decision-making benefitting the minority population.

Before, East Elmhurst was a place for African Americans, the famous and the regular. Now, East Elmhurst is just a normal and simple neighborhood with small glimpses of history. There isn’t a lot that is interesting currently, but reminiscing on the past that East Elmhurst has is interesting enough. As you look more into East Elmhurst, you learn more about things you might have not been aware of. As you grow up in the area you do not see it as anything else other than home.

Works Cited

1. Berger, Joseph. "There Stays the Neighborhood." The New York Times. The New York Times, 8 Jan. 2011. Web. 14 May 2013.
2. —-. “They Were Famous, Admired and (Finally) Welcome.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 28 Mar 2005. Web. 15 May 2013.
3. Jackson, Kenneth T., ed. The Encyclopedia of New York City. 2nd ed. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
4. Lumenick, Lou. “Schlock Around the Clock: Inside N.Y.'s Last Movie Grindhouse.” The New York Post. The New York Post, 28 Mar 2007. Web. 15 May 2013.
5. "Religion in East Elmhurst (zip 11369), New York." Sperling’s Best Places. Fast Forward Inc., n.d. Web. 15 May 2013.
6. Tse, Archie and Werschkul Ben. “Graphic: How Class Works”. The New York Times. The New York Times, 2005. Web. 15 May 2013.
7. United States. Department of Commerce. American Community Survey. Washington: Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, n.d. Retrieved from <>. 14 May 2013.

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Midterm Revision Proposal

TO: Andrew Luchessi
FROM: Nelsyda Perez
SUBJECT: Midterm Revision Proposal
DATE: 4 May 2013

As discussed during the conference, the intended audience for this piece is going to be a group of freshman prospective civil engineering students at City College that might benefit from my research on the American Society of Civil Engineers at City College (ASCE-CCNY). The ASCE on a national level is a very important society that is meant to act as a support for the civil engineers of the nation. Whether or not it is necessary for a civil engineer to join the ASCE really depends on how necessary is the ASCE-CCNY to civil engineering students. After all, it is a prerequisite for national membership according to the ASCE-CCNY webpage. So freshmen who are considering pursuing a degree in civil engineering would do well to learn about the many exclusive benefits of the ASCE-CCNY and how they will aid you in their goal to become civil engineers in the technical workplace. They would also do well to learn that the ACSE-CCNY is not necessary in becoming a successful civil engineer and they can gain their resources and benefits from more convenient places at CCNY. Whichever way this project takes me, both conclusions will yield positive results from both scenarios. Freshmen considering civil engineering as a possible major might be encouraged to look into becoming a member of the ASCE-CCNY. They might also be encouraged to look into the other resources I might refer to if it turns out the ASCE-CCNY provides information that can be accessed somewhere else.

While working towards that one concrete conclusion that I was lacking in the first version of my midterm piece, I plan to answer three very important questions that will probably help shape my decision and opinion about the ASCE-CCNY:

1) What activities do the members of the ASCE-CCNY participate in?

2) How does the ASCE-CCNY encourage involvement from new members or potential members of the group?

3) Why join the ASCE-CCNY rather than any other civil engineering clubs?

These aren't all the questions that we asked during the conference, but I feel that these three questions are the more general versions of all those questions combined. For instance, we asked how does one become a member. Question 2 could touch upon that nicely since membership is necessary for involvement from potential members. These questions also bring some of my findings into the equation as some of the answers have been answered so far. Any gaps that are in my research could be filled by the revision.

I already have a procedure laid out for this revision:

  • Talk to members of the ASCE-CCNY.

Recently, I have seen members of the ASCE-CCNY at the City College Honors Center. That is great because that was one of the things I was lacking in my first version of the midterm. Talking about the ASCE-CCNY might give me the results I was missing due to the lack of interviews. Rather than have a very formal interview, I plan to have just a small talk conversation.

  • Look into the clubs formed by the ASCE-CCNY (Engineers Without Borders and The Concrete Canoe)

This would be much easier for me since my peers in the English 210.07 seem very familiar with those clubs. Fidan for instance is a member of EWB and Yi did his midterm research on the Concrete Canoe club. Just looking at his midterm and talking to my peers would be enough for me to gain information on those clubs, adding on to the overall goals of the ASCE-CCNY.

  • Read over the "What We Do" document again.

Analyzing what the ASCE-CCNY claims to offer, according to that document, would tell me whether or not the resources that they claim are available are exclusive and useful to civil engineering students. In this case, I would use my own judgement in this analysis.

Again, some of the challenges might include not having a solid conclusion at the end of this revision. I feel that this might not happen again, but then again it already happened once. It would look like the first version of the midterm, only I might try to end it with a more continuation approach and encourage further observation from the audience. If I do achieve my goal for a solid conclusion on the necessity of the ASCE-CCNY then I would be left satisfied knowing that any of my readers would have a stronger foundation to go by. Even if they do not agree with my conclusion there should be enough information for them to make their own as I was able to make one.

I plan to write this as an informal blog post. The procedure is less strict and professional than last time because I feel that my audience is my own group of peers in the same class that I am in (class of 2016 and beyond). I feel a blog post would bring me down at their level which is more appropriate than making me one of the sole authorities of information on the ASCE-CCNY. It would let them know that I am just learning about a pretty exclusive group that could potentially affect my success in obtaining a career in civil engineering.

This example from The New York Times blog is a good model for this piece. It uses very little formal jargon and tries to talk to you rather than lecture you. The author tells the audience important information, but the author leaves room for individual decision making. In my case, I am giving an opinion, but my opinion should not overshadow the opinion of an audience member. There should be room for discussion.

I am confident that the results from this revision will yield very positive results in terms of the writing process. Thanks for reading my revision proposal.

Nelsyda Perez

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Midterm Revision

The ASCE: Is It Worth It?

by Nelsyda Perez

The City College of New York (CCNY) is most known for its engineering program. It is the only CUNY school whose main focus is engineering. It is also the only CUNY to offer specializations in the engineering discipline of your choice. Now how is it that CCNY keeps its students interested in engineering. Even though it offers one of the highest chances of becoming a professional in your field, it is also one of the easily dropped majors in general. Only a very small amount of engineers graduate compared to how many enter. That is where the clubs come in

As an engineering student at CCNY, you will be exposed to the different engineering societies at the college. If you're a civil engineering major like me you will most definitely hear about the American Society of Civil Engineers at CCNY. If you have wanted to be a civil engineer ever since you were a little kid, you might already be familiar with the national ASCE and the ASCE at CCNY; however, let us assume you just learned about civil engineering recently when you were considering what college you wanted to attend and what major you were planning to pursue all in your junior or senior year in high school. You probably would have never learned what the ASCE was. I know I didn't. After looking at the national ASCE as a discourse community in my last piece, I came to a very disappointing conclusion— there was no conclusion. So, let's look at the ASCE from a smaller point of view; let's look at the ASCE from the point of view of the student chapter at CCNY. Let's take that idea even further now. Let's look at the different branches of the ASCE at CCNY. Now we are getting somewhere. Now the last question to answer— "Is the ASCE at CCNY worth joining?" By answering this question we can infer the answer as to whether or not joining the national ASCE is worth it.

So first off, what does the ASCE at CCNY do? Well for one, they made the club, Engineers Without Borders (EWB), a civil engineering club that participates in civil engineering projects that will aid another country. That's pretty cool, but what do they do for their own society? Well for one, they hold seminars where they have professors, alumni and professional engineers talk to members about topics that include, but are not limited to…

  • career success
  • work ethics
  • mentoring
  • how engineers are hired
  • how to start a business
  • etc (Lin).

Think about this as your FIQWS or Engineering 101 lecture where you hear an engineer or engineering professor talk to you. The only difference is it strictly caters to your civil engineering interests and it will probably be more interesting than a lecture where more than half the audience just talks over everyone because all they have to do is show up and nothing else. The beauty of these lectures is that you can attend the lecture at your own will, not because your attendance is mandatory. What seems to be slightly upsetting is the fact that you yourself can gain some of this knowledge through the career center… right? Well according to Alida Mckee, my academic adviser, career opportunities as a civil engineer are hard to get. Internships for one are so hard to get that people who started searching in their freshman year in college are still searching in their junior year. With the ASCE's seminars, a student can get resources from a engineer in the field, alumni who probably got opportunities somewhere and professors who probably have connections to a firm or some engineering society. This could be the difference between becoming a professional in your career and not working in a civil engineering firm.

The ASCE at CCNY also has field trips that are planned by the ASCE at CCNY. Andy Singh, a former civil engineering major and member of the ASCE at CCNY, mentioned two trips that the ASCE recently had. One of them was a trip to the 2nd Avenue subway line. That seems rather boring, but add special permission from the MTA to look at the inner workings of the subway and you're good to go! In this field trip, students learned about how the subway system runs and how subway system was made. This is an amazing experience for any transportation specialized civil engineering major and any civil engineer in general. Andy also mentioned another related field trip took place in Grand Central Station (Singh, 2013).

Now, on campus, the ASCE at CCNY contributed to the formation of two very important clubs: The Concrete Canoe Club and the previously mentioned EWB.

The Concrete Canoe Club is not out to save the world. It's not out to make you build the most amazing bridge or an irrigation system to help the poor people of the world. The Concrete Canoe Club is out to make a concrete canoe and ride it to victory. The concept of a concrete canoe is hard to visualize but it can exist and it can be written in water. With the right experimentation, collaboration and teamwork, CCNY's Concrete Canoe Club is proof that it is possible since they have won first place in 2011 and in past years as well. In his own discourse study of the Concrete Canoe Club, Yipeng Luan touched upon the different skills that each member must exhibit: "Group members have a strong desire to talk with each others. They also have their own rules to communicate. They would first try phone calls, or they would use text message. If all of these steps cannot solve the problem, they would use webcam to chat" (Luan, 2013). He also learned that they must also have some ability to overcome conflict: "When two people tried to get the same section, Jin, [the leader], gave them both authorities to work on it. At this moment, the conflict became a motivation to improve members’ performance" (Luan, 2013). In general, the Concrete Canoe Club looks like a smaller version of professional civil engineers working together on a large-scale project in a civil engineering firm.

EWB is slightly different. The members of this particular club actually work on real-world civil engineering problems in other parts of the world. In some ways, they are saving the world. Most of the meetings held by the club members are held in order to update people on the current status of the projects that they are working on. Certain members of the group go to countries in other parts of the world and work on projects. According to Christopher Aebig, a member of EWB and fellow classmate, EWB plans to go to Honduras at some point. The members that stay just cheer them on and wish their fellow members good luck. It seems as if nothing else is done in this club except for that.

Now let's look at the most important thing about the ASCE at CCNY, according to the Andy Singh. With all the clubs and the society itself, the ASCE at CCNY encourages you to make new friends. Andy said that the one thing he is grateful for is the friends and upperclassmen that he met when he became a member of the ASCE (Singh, 2013). He met other civil engineers that shared his interests and sought to become professionals alongside him. Those friends served as invaluable resources and invaluable companions that will stay with him throughout his college career. Even though he is not a civil engineering major anymore, he feels that he gained a great treasure the friends he gained.

So is the ASCE at CCNY worth it? I would say yes. The resources you find are technically easier to obtain than in any other engineering lecture of visit to the career office, the clubs are very interesting and the friends you make will stay with you for a really long time. Plus, students are willing to talk about the ASCE at CCNY because they hope you will join them too. Overall, the ASCE is a great society to join. As an incoming freshman, you will benefit from the most invaluable resource that the ASCE could offer— friendship.


Aebig, C. (2013). Personal interview.
Lin. (n.d.). ASCE student chapter: what we do. Retrieved from
Luan, Y. (2013, April 12) Discourse conventions boost ability to win a canoe competition. Retrieved from
Singh, A. (2013). Personal interview.

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Behind the Scenes

Thinking about the genre that I planned to write in, I purposely tried to be informal while also trying to sound as if I knew what I was doing, like a normal news blog that most people of a general public audience would read. I also tried to add facts and qualities of the ASCE that most incoming freshmen might not be aware of as to maintain some credibility and I make the audience aware that I myself am learning about this group and I myself hold an interest to the group, just like many bloggers in general.

My revision process involved omitting certain parts of my midterm piece, specifically the parts talking about the functions of the national ASCE as a discourse community. This revision felt more like a revisiting rather than a editing of the original piece. Because the ASCE was already shown to be a discourse community, so I felt it was unnecessary to mention it again. The next thing I did was casually talk to a member of the ASCE at CCNY, Andy Singh. He offered some specific example of what the ASCE at CCNY did, which made me content about the usefulness of the student chapter. I also talked to Chris Aebig of Engineers Without Borders and read Yipeng Luan's piece on the Concrete Canoe for more insider information on the clubs. After gathering the necessary data, my job was to list my findings in a way that other people might gain interest in the ASCE at CCNY because, in my opinion, I was finally convinced that this society is valuable to prospective civil engineering students. I looked at the "What We Do" statement available on the ASCE at CCNY's website. It seemed unnecessary to me at first, but then I thought maybe I can use it as a frame and then talk about more of the tinier details mentioned by Andy Singh in greater detail. I believe it worked out well.

Because I was researching the ASCE at CCNY and not the national ASCE, the exposition is different from my last midterm draft, but I feel that the conclusion that I came to in this piece would mirror the conclusion that I would have come to had the research in the first midterm draft had been successful. What is "successful"? Coming to a solid conclusion about the ASCE was my goal for this revision and I felt that I was successful. What I seem to have had trouble with is ultimately tying the national ASCE to the ASCE at CCNY. I feel that I failed at doing that mainly because I myself do not see how to fit this to the first midterm draft without straying away and mentioning the national ASCE. I wanted to focus on the student chapter, but the ultimate goal of the midterm project in a general sense was to verify the benefits of the national ASCE. In some ways, I might have not fulfilled that, but if I were to work on a third draft, it would tie the first and second midterm drafts together.

I hope you liked the latest version of the midterm draft and I thank you for taking the time to read it.

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Third Progression Project

To see the original page, click here.

Syllabus Study: Writing Disparity Between Different Majors
Christopher Aebig, Stephanie Bodre, James Kasakyan, Nelsyda Perez and Peter Zupo
The City College of New York


Engineers are often labeled as poor writers and are given a pass for their writing deficiencies because of their unique skill set and the widespread belief that writing is not an important aspect of an engineer’s career. However, as many have written about and as many engineers will tell you, this is a completely false conception. Some even go to the length of saying that writing is the most important skill for an engineer to have. This still leaves the question, do engineers know how to write, unanswered—and that is extremely disturbing. In order to find an answer to this question we devised an experiment that would try to answer this question by using syllabi from engineering courses at The City College of New York (CCNY) to determine if engineers are getting enough writing instruction in college. After extensively examining the syllabi of engineering courses and comparing them to liberal arts courses (a field that also requires a large amount of writing). Although our study was limited in scope and encountered some setbacks, we believe we gathered sufficient evidence to reach the conclusion that engineering majors at CCNY are not doing nearly enough writing, and that they will not be properly prepared for the writing they will do when beginning their careers.


One of the most enduring stereotypes about engineers is that they cannot write well—and they are given a pass by society because most people believe they do not need to write. In other words, engineers are permitted by others to have this deficiency because of their proficiency in another high demand area—practical, logical, and mathematical reasoning. However, the notion that engineers do not need to write cannot be further from the truth. Gary Breed, editorial director of and engineer of 50 years, bluntly states in a 2010 editorial: “When it comes to writing, it is a myth that engineers don’t need to write well. Let me repeat that: It is a myth that engineers don’t need to write well” (Breed, 2010). Linda Hargrove, a freshman advisor at The University of North Carolina in Charlotte, recounts snippets of conversations she had with engineering alumni (Hargrove, 2012):

“I think if many engineering students really realized how much writing is really involved in the job, they might reconsider their chosen profession.” – PE from Utah, USA

“Clear, concise writing by an engineer is extremely important. Those that can do this, will usually end up at the top” – PE from North Carolina, USA

They say all stereotypes are based on some truth. So what gives? It is obvious that writing plays a huge role in the career of an engineer, but then how alarming would it be if engineers were not proficient in writing? This is what we sought to find through our study of syllabi from engineering courses here at CCNY: Do engineers know how to write? You are probably asking yourself what syllabi from engineering courses at CCNY have to do with determining if engineers know how to write, and rightly so.

The question, do engineers know how to write, is one that is impossible to test or quantify in part because it is so subjective; who should be the one to judge whether an engineer knows how to write? In addition, people often disagree about what constitutes good writing and what does not. For this reason, we sought to break down the question into one that would be slightly easier to answer: Are engineers being prepared well in college for the writing they will have to do as engineers? This logically deduces from the original question, because if engineers are properly prepared in college for writing, they will no doubt be successful writers in their careers. However this new question—are engineers being properly prepared in college for the writing they will do as engineers—is just as difficult to answer or quantify. One plausible method of testing this is to devise a study to determine just how much writing in general an engineering major at CCNY does in four years. The logic behind this is that, in general, the more you do something, the better prepared you are for it, and the better you will be at it later on. For example, studying days for a test would make you prepared for the test, and would make the concepts studied easier to recall and remember even long after the test. In the same way, a large amount of writing in college would indicate that engineers are being properly prepared for the writing they will have to do, and would indicate success down the road. It is with this mindset that we devised our syllabi study. If we found engineers at CCNY were doing a large amount of writing, we could infer that they were being properly prepared and would be good future writers. If not, then it would indicate something is glaringly wrong with the system.


Our main purpose was to create a qualitative study to see whether or not engineers do enough writing in college to be prepared for writing in their careers, and whether or not they do as much, or more writing, than liberal arts majors. We decided to conduct this qualitative study through different syllabi from different courses of both engineering and liberal arts majors at CCNY. We would use the syllabi in an attempt to estimate the amount of writing that engineering majors and liberal arts majors do throughout their college careers.

We broke up our study of syllabi into two obvious categories: engineering majors and liberal arts majors. The reason for using liberal arts majors to compare to engineering majors is because prior to this study, we believed that the popular belief was that liberal arts majors do an extreme amount of writing while they are in college, preparing them for their careers, while engineering majors do very little writing to prepare them for their careers. We felt that this would be a great comparison point since we are trying to debunk the idea that engineers do not write enough. After breaking up the syllabi into these two categories, we further broke the syllabi down into specific engineering and liberal arts majors. From here we were able to start to decide what classes we wanted to analyze for the study.

Our group broke up the syllabi into five majors for each overall category: Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering for the engineering syllabi, and Economics, Psychology, English, History, and Sociology for the Liberal Arts courses. We decided this would be a great spread of different liberal arts majors, along with being able to account for almost all of the engineering majors at CCNY. The dividing of the majors like this gave the group the opportunity to study two majors total and three classes from each of the majors. This led to everybody studying six course syllabi each.

With each of the classes, we tried to pick three courses with their levels in an ascending order. As a general example, if we had an Economics class we tried to pick a 200 level, a 300 level, and a 400 level class so we can observe how the amount of writing changes as a student would get farther into his or her degree. In addition to each person having these classes, we added that each group member would look at the foundational writing courses for their corresponding majors.

From the syllabi, we attempted to find out how much writing one would do in each of the course, giving us an estimate on how much a student would write throughout the sequence of the major. We accounted for “classical writing”, such as homework, research papers and essays, along with more technical writing such as lab reports and computer coding. We then attempted to see how the writing in each of the different courses in each of the majors relate to each other, and whether engineers do in fact write more or less than liberal arts majors.

One thing our group did to supplement our main methodology was to contact professors of the corresponding courses in order to find out more information about the writing done in these courses. Although many of the professors did not answer, we were able to get some viable information from those who did answer. Because of this, and our other methods of study, our methodology proved to be fairly successful for our study and yielded some very interesting results.


There is a difficulty in quantifying writing through a set standard. Because we need to compare the amount of writing being done, we are going to describe the amount of writing in terms of pages and converting other quantitative data found such as lines of code or time into the amount of pages in a double spaced, 12 point Times New Roman font Microsoft Word document with 1 inch margins. These are the conversions that we will be using:

  • Average page per in class essay: ~3 pages (based on the average page count in a high school in class essay (2))
  • Average page per final in class essay: ~6 pages (about double the amount of writing in a regular in class essay)
  • Average word count in a MS Word page: ~350 words (based on the word count in a page on a normal academic essay)
  • Line count in a MS Word page: ~23 lines (based on counting the number of lines in a double spaced MS word document page)
  • 1 line of code = 1/4 of a MS Word line (based on typing a code in MS Word and using the ruler on the top of the page.)
  • Average length of a typical lab report: ~3 pages (based on a response to a question on Yahoo Answers.)

These aren't the most accurate set of quantifiers and some of them are pretty arbitrarily defined, but they do help give a general idea as to how much writing goes on in each course. Note that there is no mention of laboratory reports. That is because the length of an actual lab report is hard to determine as it depends on how much data and analysis was done in the laboratory. Plus, it also varies with differing lab experiments.

Engineering Courses

Biomedical Engineering. Biomedical Engineers do very little to no writing in their courses.

In the Bioelectrical Circuits course (BME20500), most of the writing that goes on takes the form of lab reports.

The writing in the Dynamic Systems and Modeling course (BME30500) involves coding assignments that are comparable to the lab reports in length.

The Biomedical Transducers and Instrumentation course (BME40500) requires you to write product descriptions for hypothetical instruments that you will design.

Because most of the Biomedical Engineering courses are laboratory classes, the writing that is done across different levels tends to be the same or it tends to decrease slightly.

Civil Engineering. The Civil Engineering course syllabi studied barely touched upon writing in the class. There is mention of the lab reports that are in general part of the course, but the explanation requires supplementary data that wasn't obtained. However, it should be noted that most of the writing is done through huge projects that apply your writing skills in a large scale problem solving assignment. The writing is not super extensive though.

Computer Science. The main source of writing in a computer science course is, of course, coding. Some might argue that coding does not qualify as "true writing". However, as any computer science major or computer science professor will tell you, computer coding is a means of communication between you and the computer and it requires a great amount of attention to detail. Therefore, it is just as important and just as valid as any other form of writing.

A computer science major will see a declining quantity of writing as they progress academically. According to Professor Andy Nagel, in the Software Design lab course (CSc22100), a typical student will write a total of ~1500 lines of code (~16 pages of total writing) over the course of 10-12 coding projects. Nagel also claimed that he believes engineers in general do not write enough over the course of four years. In order to remedy this problem, he added an additional 1,500 word proposal as an assignment for his class (Nagel, 2013). According to a words to pages calculator, this is ~6.2 pages of writing.

In the Software Engineering course (CSc32200), a student will write a total of ~750 lines of code (~8 pages of total writing) over the course of 4-5 coding projects.

The least amount of writing is done in the Computer Security course (CSc48000). According to Professor Nelly Fazio, a student will write a total of only ~500 lines of code (~5.5 pages of total writing). There are also article summaries that are ~500 words (~2.1 pages) in length. In this particular section of CSc48000, Fazio assigns around three of these particular assignments (Fazio, 2013).

This results in a total writing amount of ~42 pages of total writing over the course of three different CSc courses.

Electrical Engineering. The courses studied for this major (EE21000: Switching System, EE31200/S: Communication Theory, and EE47100: Intro to Digital Processing) have shown to have very little to no writing in the courses. Most of the courses have lab reports and coding projects that must be completed, but those portions of the courses have their own separate syllabi that we could not find. Also, professors did not respond to the emails sent which resulted in a small amount of data for the Electrical Engineering major.

Mechanical Engineering. A student of this major tends to write about the same amount over the course of three different ME courses. The students are mainly asked to write lab reports that will supplement their data and calculations from the lab. Each course asked for ~4 lab reports each, resulting in an estimated total of ~12 pages of writing.

Liberal Arts Courses

Economics. Most of the courses' writing focus on assigning readings then testing you on those readings. The Introduction to Economics honors course however had a ~6-10 page final paper and a couple of article summaries that are ~1 page each.

This results in a writing >8-12 pages of writing.

English. Because of the major, a lot of writing is expected to be done. The most writing is done in the 300 level courses where students are expected to write lengthy fictional pieces (ENGL32000) and large term papers (ENGL35301). Therefore, the writing does tend to increase as the English major progresses in their college career.

History. The writing done in these courses is related to a lot of reading the students must do.

In the United States and the Contemporary Middle East course (HIST31138), there are three take home quizzes per semester. There is no official word count for these quizzes. The students are also expected to write a 15 page final research paper.

In the United States History (HIST32600) course there are three papers. The first paper is ~2 pages in length, the second paper is ~3-5 pages in length and the third paper is ~8-10 pages in length, resulting in a total of ~13-17 pages of writing.

In the Age of Enlightenment course (HIST41101), there is one short paper ~3-5 pages in length, and one long paper ~8-9 pages in length resulting in a total of ~11-14 pages total.

This results in ~39-46 pages total.

Psychology. A psychology major experiences a noticeable increase in the amount of writing being done.

In the Psychology in the Modern World course (PSY10200), students are asked to write three papers that are ~3-4 pages in length.

The Applied Statistics course (PSY21500) seems to have no writing at all. If there is writing in this course the syllabus did not mention it and the professors did not respond to our inquiries.

However, make a jump to the 300 level Experimental Psychology course (PSY32100) and you will notice that a typical student will have to write a lot of free-form pieces that vary depending on the professor and a 15 page final paper.

This results in a total of ~24-27 pages of writing in the course of three (technically two) PSY courses.

Sociology. A sociology major experiences a similar form of increasing workload.

In the Introduction to Sociology course (SOC10500), a student is expected to complete a journal assignment ~2-3 pages in length, a short essay ~5-7 pages in length, a midterm essay and a final essay. This leads to a total of ~16-19 pages in writing.

In the Fundamentals of Sociology Theory course (SOC23700), a student is expected to complete three small writing assignments ~3-4 pages each and a take-home final that is ~8-10 pages in length. This results in a total of ~17-22 pages of writing.

In the Immigration course (SOC29000), the professor who wrote the specific syllabus studied expects students to work in components. Aside from the two short essay exams (~6 pages), a student is supposed to write an outline to their final paper (~2 pages), a rough draft of the final paper (~5-7 pages) and the final paper itself (~10 pages). This leads to a total of ~23-25 pages of writing

Added together, a sociology major would write ~56-66 pages in the course of three SOC courses.

Foundational Writing Classes

We looked at the foundational writing classes and concluded that the amount of writing is uncannily similar to each other. We did expect this to happen since this is supposed to be a working foundation to the writing that you will be doing in general. The only differences between the writing in each class is in the genres that they are writing in.


From our results, we found that the disparity between the writing done by engineering majors and liberal arts majors increases as students progress in their major. When liberal arts majors reach higher-level courses, the amount of writing that they do increases rather significantly, while the amount of writing that engineering students do remains the same or even decreases a little. This is a rather concerning finding because writing is a crucial component in the work of an engineer. If an engineer were to be hired by an engineering company, a large part of his or her work would entail writing, whether through email, memos, or lab reports among other forms. If engineers cannot effectively communicate their ideas through writing, miscommunications will arise between co workers and ultimately slow down the progression of projects or possibly lead to the development of a faulty product.

This is a rather difficult issue to tackle as the curriculum of an engineer is already very rigorous and requires a large amount of credits per degree. One solution to such a problem would be to incorporate writing into the already existing classes. For example, in some classes, such as BME 405 – Biomedical Transducers and Instrumentation, students are expected to write design objectives for the products that they are designing and describe the behavior of the instruments in words as well as numbers. Writing could be implemented in such a way in other classes as well.

As this was a rather limited study, further research on this project would entail looking at a much larger pool of syllabi and could be expanded to comparing the amount of writing done by other engineering majors in other ABET accredited engineering schools.


Our hypothesis proved to be incorrect. We believed engineering majors do as much writing as liberal arts majors and our results revealed the opposite. From examining a total of thirty syllabi we found that the writing liberal arts majors do increases greatly as they reach higher level classes. Meanwhile, the writing that engineering majors do does not increase. From this we can conclude that the disparity between the writing that engineering and liberal arts students do increases with level. This suggests that engineers may not be as prepared for the amount of writing that they must do in the workplace.


Breed, G. (2010, May). So you think that engineers don't (or can't) write. Retrieved from
Hargrove, L. (2012, April 27). Engineers write a lot. Retrieved from
Fazio, N. (2013, May 08). Personal interview.
Nagel, A. (2013). Personal interview.


Appendix A: List of Engineering Courses

Note: The syllabi for the corresponding course will be linked to a PDF if and only if they are distributed publicly online.

Appendix B: List of Liberal Arts Courses

Note: The syllabi for the corresponding course will be linked to a PDF if and only if they are distributed publicly online.

Appendix C: List of Foundational Writing Courses

Note: The syllabi for the corresponding course will be linked to a PDF if and only if they are distributed publicly online.

  • ENGL21001- Writing for the Humanities
  • ENGL21002- Writing for the Social Sciences
  • ENGL21007- Writing for Engineering

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