Communicating Technically

I don’t remember the first time I heard the term “technical communication.” Perhaps it was a few years ago, but when I learned of an opportunity to become part of RIT’s Society for Technical Communication mentoring program, I jumped at the chance. I even knew the professor who was in charge of it all, Ben Woelk. I had Professor Woelk for another class in my very first year at RIT, so I knew it would be a good fit for me considering my interests in writing and information security.

Professor Woelk told me about his Technical Writing and Editing course offered at RIT during my final semester and I certainly decided to go for it. I was still unsure of my idea of technical communication, and I had described it as “taking technical speak and translating it into simpler terms.” While this is correct, it is only part of it.

One subject I learned the most about in this course, was certainly how to analyze and look at things from a more technical sense. While I thought I was already doing this, I needed a bit more background and education on how to improve this skill.

We had an assignment where we needed to create an infographic using some kind of graph for display on this blog. I decided to take a subject I was interested in, unemployment figures, and my knowledge of graphs from our unit on infographs, and create a unique graph. I made two graphs, but I chose to display the information in two different ways. I learned how to “do the math for the reader,” and by math I took the percent change (improvement) of unemployment throughout the last 10 years in each state and display with a bar graph and color-coded map. This was a great way of taking a practical skill and putting it to use.

I’m hoping to be able to work with graphs and other knowledge I’ve gained throughout the semester in my future career. I now know there is much more to technical communication than what I initially thought, and I’m glad to have been able to improve my skills in not just writing, but communicating and interpreting, and to have the opportunity to learn some new skills along the way.

– Amy Platteter

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