Georgette Dashiell Final Presentation Technical Editing 527
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Portland State University Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Style Guide Revision
Georgette DashiellFinal PresentationTechnical Editing 527The GoalTeach Engineers How to Write!The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) had a visionMake their engineering students better writers by teaching them to use a style guide.
In 2010, they hired Cheri Woods-Edwin to create a department style guide based off of Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Style Guide. Dr. Susan Conrad of the Linguistics Department also was consulted, and created the writing guides in the appendices of the style guide.
In 2013, CEE hired me as a writing specialist, and to revise and update their style guide.
The ChallengesOr the Trials and Tribulations of a Style Guide.The first trial that this mild-mannered style guide faces is convincing engineering students (or any student, for that matter) that a style guide is their friend.
The second tribulation is convincing professors other than Dr. Wells that a department style guide is their ally (its like castor oil, no one wants to use it, but it is good for you).
The third challenge is a departmental agreement that this is the preferred style guide. Different professors and students use style conventions often that are a mish-mash of what they learned in high school.
The final tribulation is common, no one seems to know how to use a style guide these days except for citing sources and bibliographiesand even that is debatable.CEE 315Or Youd Better Pass this One Credit Class or Else!CEE 315Civil and Environmental Engineering Professions is a one credit class that acts as a writing class for engineering students, in addition to teaching them about the different professional disciplines in the field: structural, environmental, geotechnical, and transportation.
This class is designed to teach engineering students to write a research paper and to use a style guide.
Every year, the ASCE sends out the guidelines for the Daniel W. Mead Contest. Every year, they present an ethical question for students nationwide to write about. The best research papers are chosen by each universitys engineering department and submitted to the ASCE.
Up to five winners receive cash prizes as awarded by the ASCE.
The question presented for 2014 was Natural Disasters What are the Civil Engineers Responsibilities?
The students of CEE 315 are required to take weekly style guide quizzes, as well as write and submit an outline, draft, and final research paper based on the above topic.
My Job for CEE 315Writing Guru and Style Guide Wizard or May the Force Be with Me.I began my life as a writing guru in the engineering department as a writing specialist for CEE 315, and later, style guide revision wizard.
I held weekly office hours for those ambitious students who actually wanted to win the prize.
I wrote weekly quizzes based on the former (yet to be revised) style guide, and graded the quizzes.
Reviewed the student outlines
Grade the draft version of the research papers.
At the end of the term, I was asked tota da! Revise the style guide!The CEE Style Guide Revision ProcessOr What is Shakespeare Doing in an Engineering Style Guide.When Dr. Wells asked me to revise the style guide, his main request was to remove Shakespeare from the annals of engineering style, and replace him with suitable engineering examples.
My first challenge was to go to Powells Books and find the newest edition of Chicago Manual of Style (CMS). The 16th edition came out in 2010, and this weighty $65 tome sat on my lap for several hours while I went through each page reference and updated from the 15th edition to the 16th edition for the revised CEE Style Guide.
I tried to reflect the various areas of civil and environmental engineering into my examples. I replaced the Bard with quotes and examples from famous engineers, or where I had to make up examples, I worked hard to make the references engineering related. This proved to be challenging for some examples because they felt contrived. Do engineers even go to Parr Lumber or Home Depot? I sure hope so!
MOREThe CEE Style Guide Revision ProcessOr What is Shakespeare Doing in an Engineering Style Guide ContinuedWhere I felt Cheris original examples were better in terms of reflecting the style convention for that section, I left in-tact her original examples.
In the section under citing sources, some of Cheris examples were slightly confusing because they mixed CMS with ASCE Style without explaining that that was what she was doing. I wrote out the CMS convention for citing book and journal references, and then wrote out the ASCE convention. CMS uses a headline convention for article titles, ASCE uses a sentences style convention for article titles. CMS writes out the entire journal title, ASCE abbreviates the title.
I also addressed the numbers issue. Most of the students in the engineering department randomly write out numbers and use numerals without any consistency. Most style guides write out numbers at least under 10. CMS writes them out under 100. In the revised CEE Style Guide, I wrote out the CMS convention that numbers under 100 are spelled out. I also noted that many style guides differ on this account, so it is best to follow the style guide for the organization or department the student is working with. I also noted the in the very least, be consistent and write out all numbers under 10.
Excerpts of the Revised CEE Style Guide 2014
What I LearnedFirst, I applaud the efforts of the CEE department to help their students become better writers. I worked with several professors over the past year who wanted someone to not just to grade, but to help their students improve their writing.
I learned that it is not just the non-native English speakers who suffer from writing challenges, it is all students. In fact, some of the non-native English writers write better than American students in terms of grammar and punctuation.
I have come a long way since Fall term in terms of grading and using a style guide. Working as a writing consultant, grader and revision editor for the style guide, has helped me recognize my own deficiencies as a writer. It has also taught me how to help students specifically in terms of their writing. For example, how to use commas correctly, or using an active rather than passive voice.
I learned that most students really dont understand how to use a style guide, and in many ways, that included myself until I took Copy Editing last year.
A department style guide is useful especially if all the professors are on board with using it in their classes. I feel this is important because then all of the CEE students are following the same style conventions regardless of the class they are taking. Also, it creates awareness that most engineering firms and organizations have their own in-house style guides that they use, or they follow Chicago Manual of Style or the ASCE Style Guide. Becoming accustomed to using a style guide is helpful.