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WHY ENGINEERS GENERALLY NEED TO BE

BETTER AT WRITING - CASE STUDIES

Whilst names and companies have been anonymised, these seven case studies are based on real examples

from delegates who have attended our courses.

MY REPORTS ARE TOO LONG

An engineer had received feedback from his manager that his reports were too long, but he did not

know how to write more concisely. He went on one of the public Techinal Report Writing courses to

learn how to improve his writing.

He soon discovered that he was not alone - several of the other delegates also wanted to write using

fewer words. The course helped him to focus on the purpose of his writing with appropriate content

for each section, so that he did not duplicate anything. He found the section on the use of English

very helpful, particularly active/passive sentence construction and smothered verbs, both of which

he realised he had a habit of using. He identified areas where he could improve his writing - to

communicate the same message in a much shorter report.

I HAVE TO CORRECT SPELLING

A manager complained that he had to spend too much time correcting spelling in the reports he had to

review. His engineers often gave him reports with spelling, grammar and formatting errors. When we

covered the role of the reviewer and approver in the training course, he was very pleased to learn that

he should not have to correct spelling.

Instead he learned to focus on giving clearer direction, ensuring that the report writer used the

company template and the Microsoft Word tools for checking spelling, grammar and style. He also

gained confidence in giving constructive feedback to his team to help them develop their writing skills

with the whole department improving their written work.

NEW SUPPLIERS

A company had recently changed their procurement process and were openly tendering for work which had

previously been done by a few suppliers. They recognised that, due to their close working relationship, their

previous suppliers had a good understanding of their needs. They were concerned that their organisation

had lost the ability to write robust procurement specifications and that new suppliers might not deliver what

they really needed.

IMechE adapted the 'Preparing Engineering Specifications' course for them, integrating their new

procurement process. Engineers and managers attended the course and reviewed a typical company

specification together. The training covered best practice for specifications, including the process,

content, writing style and practical tips. The company were more confident about their ability to

specify their needs moving forward with better outcomes all round.

TRANSITION FROM UNIVERSITY TO INDUSTRY

A delegate attended one of our 'Technical Report Writing' courses as part of his company graduate

induction programme. He was still writing up his PhD, whilst needing to understand how he should

write reports in industry. As the cohort were all recent graduates, we spent some time discussing the

similarities and differences between writing for university and industry. The other delegates were in a

similar position, having recently finished their university dissertations.

In the context of the contrasting readers and purpose, we covered structure, content and writing

style. Someone shared that they had (wrongly) been encouraged in a wordy writing style to meet the

university word count. The delegate learned how to edit his writing to be clear and concise and meet

the expectations of his readers, both for his PhD and preparing him for his new career.

Index

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