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WRITING IN Engineer Powered By Docstoc
   A Guide to

                  Cecilia Mavrow
                  University of Victoria

             McGraw-Hili Ryerson Limited
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Writing in Engineering: A Guide to Communicating

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Cover Art: Courtesy ofTotten Sims Hubicki Associates - Engineers, Architects,
           and Planners

Canadian Cataloguing in Publication Data

Mavrow, Cecilia
 Writing in engineering: a guide to communicating

Includes index.
ISBN: 0-07-551715-9

1. Technical writing. I. Title.

T11.M38 1994       808'.06662     C93-095376-2
Preface     vii

Part I       General Principles of Writing and Communicating
             in Engineering
Chapter I
  An Overview ofthe Writing Process in Engineering        3
  Problem-Solving in Engineering 8
  What's Next? 16
Exercises     16

Chapter 2
  Words 18
  Sentences 21
Exercises     25
Chapter 3
  Description 27
  Explanation or Instruction    32
  Persuasion 36
  Summarization 38
Exercises     42
Chapter 4
  Purpose and Objective 45
  Generating Content 46
  Organizing and Writing the First Draft   52
  Revision 55
  Documenting Your Sources 57
Exercises     61
THE VISUAL ELEMENT             64
   Layout 64
   Graphics 64
Exercises     73

Part 2 Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers
Chapter 6
   Open a File     81
iv      Contents

Chapter 7
  Letter Formats 83
     Memos     94
Exercises     95
Chapter 8
LETTERS: CONTENTS               97
     The Letter of Interest (Expression of Interest) 98
     The Letter of Transmittal 99
     The Letter of Inquiry or Request 100
     The Good News Letter 102
     The Bad News Letter: Complaint or Refusal 103
     The Sales Letter 106
     The Application Letter 106
Exercises      108
Chapter 9
  The Credentials Package I I 0
Exercises  I 14
Chapter 10
PROPOSALS            I 16
  Solicited Proposals I 16
  Unsolicited Proposals I 17
  The Informal (Short) Proposal I 17
  The Formal Proposal I 19
  Types of Proposals According to Work Done        119
Exercises 123
Chapter II
  Improving an Oral Presentation 124
  Physical Preparation Before Public Speaking     127
Exercises 128

Chapter 12
  Contents 129
     Heading Numbering Systems 134
     Specific Report Contents 137
Exercises      142
Chapter 13
  Specification Documents (Tender Documents) 146
  Project Management Reports 152
Exercises 156
                                                          Contents   V

Chapter 14
MANUALS        157
  Sections of a Manual I57
  Writing Guidelines for Manuals    159
  Examples ofManuals 161
Chapter 15
  Subject Matter 166
  Formats 166
  Contents 167
Exercises 168
Chapter 16
  Writing Agendas 169
  Notes in Meetings 170
  Minutes 172
  Specific Meetings 173
  Nonwriting Suggestions for Meetings 174
  Guidelines for Attending Meetings 175
Exercises 176
Appendix A: Common Punctuation Problems           177
  Apostrophe 177
  Brackets and Parentheses    177
  Capitalization 178
  Colon 178
  Comma 179
  Dash 180
  Blipsis 180
  Hyphen 180
  Numbers 181
  Quotation Marks 181
  Semicolon 182
Appendix B: A Sample Recommendation Report          183
Index    195

Writing is an increasingly large part of the engineering process, with many profes-
sional engineers spending over 60 percent of their time writing letters,. memos,
proposals, reports, and specification documents. The trend in many government
and engineering firms now is to hire technicians for the technical work. Fifteen
years ago, one city that had a population of 100,000 people employed eight engi-
neers. It now employs three, and 20 certified technicians.
   Writing is a skill that, like any other, can be developed. When you are learning to
ski, you can watch the Olympic slalom, you might take lessons and have the pros
tell you to "plant your pole, unweight, and turn," the instructor might demon-
strate on a mogul for you - and then you can put on the skis and fall flat on your
face. Before you master skiing, you have to slide down the hill a few times, trying to
plant the pole and bend the knees, learning to turn and stop. This is a good analo-
gy for writing: you need to learn the basics, understand what is expected, and then
write and rewrite until the words run effortlessly on the page.
    Some experts say that one can't write well - cannot write clean, coherent
English - without reading well-written books, books that have been written with
"force and freshness." Yes, good reading is important (and some good reports by
experienced engineers are works ofart), but most of us have read Shakespeare and
we still do not write well. Attention, care, concentration, observation, effort,
revision - and practice, practice, practice - will steadily improve your skill in
technical writing.
    This book is based on the premise that with knowledge of some basic writing
principles, and how they apply to the special writing tasks that engineers are called
upon to perform, engineering students can prepare themselves for the responsibil-
ities they will face in this field today.

Acknowledgements and Special Thanks to
Tom R. Mavrow Associates Limited
Joseph A. Drennan, P. Eng.
President and CEO
West Kootenay Power Umited
John Sansom, P. Eng.
City Engineer
Victoria, B.C.
Terry A. Prentice, P. Eng.
Science and Technology, Government of British Columbia
Robert Canova, BA Sc.
R. Gary Mitchell, P. Eng. - Supervisor
Ed J. Dyatt, P. Eng.
B.C. Hydro Engineering Department
Dayton & Knight Limited
Consulting Engineers
West Vancouver, B.C.
University of Victoria engineering students
   General Principles of
Writing and Communicating
       in Engineering
        Writing and Problem-Solving
               in Engineering

Unlike other types of technical writing, which primarily involve processing infor-
mation, writing in engineering uses all the thinking processes necessary to solve
problems, from creating solutions, to presenting solutions, to explaining how the
solutions can be put into effect. Thus engineering writing must be as comprehen-
sive, as logical, and as clear as possible so that the problems get resolved and not

The writing process is similar for all writing assignments, be they essays, letters,
reports, articles, or proposals. The writer must generate content, define the thesis,
organize and draft the content, revise for content, and revise for grammar.
However, in engineering, the writing process must take into consideration the
problem-solving nature of most of the writing tasks, and so it looks more like the
procedure shown in Figure 1-1.

Formulate Your Objective
Your objective is derived from the purpose of the writing. In essays, the objective is
expressed in the thesis statement; in letters and memos, it is expressed in the subject
line; in scientific experiments, the objective is the truth being sought.
   Often, at this point, you will have to clarifY the problem you are resolving. (You
will find the problem-solving processes discussed later in this chapter.)
   Writing objectives are discussed further in Chapter 4.

Generate Content
You can generate content by many means, among them:
• Creating lists
• Clustering associated words
• Researching in the library

4   PART I: General Principles of Writing and Communicating in Engineering


                            Formulate Your Objective
                                  (in writing)

               Outline Headings and Decide on a Suitable Format

                           Outline Your Graphic Needs

                  Organize Your Material and Prepare a Draft

                               Revise for Content
                          (as many times as necessary)

                             Document Your Sources
                          CHAPTER I: Writing and Problem-Solving in Engineering    5

• Consulting professional journals
• Reviewing previous jobs
• Discussing with colleagues
Chapter 4 explains these methods in more detail.

Outline Headings and Decide on a Suitable Format
Outline possible headings for the information, using the standard arrangements set
out for letters in Chapter 8, reports in Chapter 12, and manuals in Chapter 14.
  When the subject matter is unique, create a suitable format to fit the material.

Outline Your Graphic Needs
How many graphs, charts, tables, etc. will the reader need to understand the text?
Where will you put them?
 See Chapter 5.

Organize Your Material and Prepare a Draft
Use the decimal numbering system and write the first draft.
  See Chapter 4.

Revise for Content
Read through the whole document without stopping, to assess the overall coher-
ence and to determine if the content answers the purpose of the document. Then
redefine the objective ifnecessary and reread.
  .Revise as many times as necessary, tightening, adding, clarifYing and improving
the information you have presented.
   See Chapter 4.

Revise for Grammar
Check your spelling and review the sentences for correct word choice and punctu-
ation. Make sure you have separate paragraphsfor related ideas about one point of
   See Chapter 4 and Appendix A.

Document Your Sources
You must identify anyone else's ideas and words that you use or borrow.
  See Chapter 4.
  Chapter 4 gives a full discussion ofthe writing process in engineering.

Before we go further it will be helpful to get an overview ofthe engineering process
and see where the various writing tasks fit into the engineering projects. See Figure
1-2, where the shaded areas indicate the writing tasks.
6   PART I: General Principles of Writing and Communicating in Engineering


                           Meeting to discuss proposal

                                                  Tender call
                                               Tender evaluation
                                               Contract awarded
                           CHAPTER I: Writing and Problem-Solving in Engineering   7

Kinds of Writing Required in Different Fields of Engineering
• Field reports
• Interdepartmental memorandums
• Letters
• Contract specifications
• Forecasts

• Explanations of projects to non-professionals: public service workers, elected
  officials, and other nonengineering government personnel
• Analyses ofproposals for various government programs
• Project analyses
• Requests for proposals (RFPs)
• Summaries
•   Letters
•   Project management documents
•   Contract specifications
•   Design reports

•   Proposals ofservices
•   Tender documents
•   Detailed-design documents
•   Completion reports
•   Letters
•   Summaries
•   Concept reports
•   Progress and field reports
•   Conference papers

•   Proposals
•   Evaluations
•   Tender submissions
•   Conference papers
•   Detailed-design documents
• Forecasts
• Manuals
• Letters
8    PART I: General Principles of Writing and Communicating in Engineering

• Research grant applications
• Progress reports
• Documenting procedures
• Lectures
• Letters

How can you improve your writing in engineering, and your thinking as an engi-
neer? Many studies have been done on problem-solving, and on the cognitive
processes in writing. Since engineering is largely a creative problem-solving exer-
cise, writing in engineering must be both as insightfUl and ingenious, and as com-
prehensive, logical, and clear as possible, so that the problems get resolved and not
   The following section presents a synthesis of these ideas as they apply to engi-
neering and writing in engineering.

Define the Problem
This is not as obvious as it sounds, even with personal problems. For instance, you
wake up on the morning of an important interview or meeting or trip and don't
feel well. How are you going to cope? You have a dim recollection that this also
happened the last time you had a similar event. So you get some aspirins, take a
glass ofginger ale, and drag yourselfoff, fretting about your health - or you cancel.
   What is the problem? You instinctively attribute it to external circumstances and
believe you picked up the flu from someone in the house or on the plane. But why
is your immunity level down at this particular time? Other times you don't have the
flu. Well, you know that immunity levels are influenced by stress among other
things. What is the cause of your stress? Again, you would say, obviously because
you have this incredible presentation to get through.
   But why is this presentation causing you so much stress? Now you are getting to
the point where you are identifYing the problem. There are several possible
• You didn't get your report ready in time.
• You painfUlly remember that you were belittled at the last meeting because
  you weren't able to answer some questions.
• The draftsperson didn't get the drawing to you on time and you haven't had
  time to study the features ofthe facility.
• Your relatives were over for a birthday party the night before and you are
  hung over.
• Etc.
                          CHAPTER I: Writing and Problem-Solving in Engineering    9

The cause ofthe "illness" gradually narrows down to the fact that you haven't done
your homework: you haven't assessed what they are going to want from you, and
you haven't prepared so that you would be confident ofyour contribution.
  This is getting closer to the real problem, which can then be solved, not by tran-
quilizers, scotch, or antacids, but by scheduling enough time to get everything
ready well ahead ofthe meeting. You may even arrange to take a coworker with you
ifyou need some expert advice (read support) outside ofyour field.
  As you see, you can identify a problem by asking questions ofit. Continue to ask
questions until you clarify the real problem. If you do not do this, you will find
yourself solving the wrong problem and the original problem will not be solved.
Define the real problem, not the apparent problem. Often we limit our perception
of the problem and limit our success.

   For instance, ifyou state the problem as "How can I build a better rat trap?" you
are not leaving room for a broader solution. Ifyou state the problem as "How can
I get rid ofthe rats?" then you can use poison or other means.
   Instead ofsaying "How can we build a better car?" you might ask "How can we
mov<;: people to where they want to go?" This opens up the possibility of finding
more-original solutions.
   Write out the problem. Merely thinking about the problem is not as effective as
writing down the questions and formulating written answers. Often, mere think-
ing is fragmentary. Writing out the steps forces you to complete the thoughts by
completing the sentences.

Apply Creative Problem-Solving Theories
There are patterns that emerge from the conflicting scholarly theories on problem-
solving. The following is a synthesis ofmany different theories.

After identifying the problem in writing, engage a creative thinkingprocessto gener-
ate as many solutions as possible. In the classroom, when 20 engineering students
are asked to solve a problem and write up the report, there will be 20 quite-distinct
solutions put forward. Occasionally one student's idea will overlap another's, but
the application of the idea will differ. And out of that 20 there may be two, or at
most three, actually workable solutions. The question arises: Why don't the stu-
10     PART I: General Principles of Writing and Communicating in Engineering

dents come up with more-workable solutions? The answer is that they take the first
possibility that comes to mind and try to make it work. They get fixated on one
idea, and no others present themselves.
   Many engineers have worked out·a problem, created the drawings, and written
the report, only to get a wholly new and ingenious idea as they wrote the conclu-
sion. By then it was too late to start allover, and the original, poorly developed
solution had to be implemented.
   Make a cluster diagram (see Figure 4-1 in Chapter 4) for every possible idea in
your own mind, appealing to the pictorial side ofyour brain as you do when gen-
erating content in the writing process. Set a time frame for generating ideas for
solving the problem, and do not impose any judgements until you have reached
the time you set for yourself The time frame can be 10 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2
days depending on the problem. Write down all the ideas, even seemingly silly
ones. Discard none.
   Research all previous solutions.
   Some experts suggest that you bypass this activity because any former solution
will prejudice you against new; untried ideas, since you will automatically accept
what has worked before even if it hasn't worked well. You will engage the mind to
think in order to find the means to satisfy a need or solve a problem, and once the
means are found, you are satisfied. You will not willingly jeopardize the comfort of
a known solution to look for a better solution. In fact, you probably won't think
there could be a better solution, since we tend to like our own solutions. These
scholars claim that an uninformed approach - a mind clean ofall the previous solu-
tions - will enable one to arrive at a better solution than those problem-solvers
burdened with previously successful solutions.
   However, in engineering there seems to be more validity for the informed
approach. Knowledge ofall possible approaches can be helpful. Saturate your mind
with possibilities, which is a process Denis Flanagan, former editor of Scientific
American, supported when he said:
     Obviously inspiration comes only to the prepared mind. Without atoms of
     thought to associate, no association occurs.
With this objective in mind, surround your thinking with pertinent material on
the subject:
• Listen to both the detractors and the proponents ofdifferent attitudes to the
  problem. Note them down.
• Research all the sales literature for new materials, products, and mechanisms
  that may suggest a new approach to the problem.
• Look back on the problem from the finished point ofview. List (or cluster)
  every possible problem that could arise in the finished system or design.
  For instance, ifyou are designing a pen that willwrite under water: Will
  it leak? What substances don't leak? Wax? Your solution may be to use a wax-
  based substance.
• Force your mind outside its usualpattern by reversing afew o/theprevious solu-
  tions and idem so that you break up the previous memory patterns that get in
                           CHAPTER I: Writing and Problem-Solving in Engineering     II

   the way ofnew ideas. Ifyou have always designed a system to fit within a
   structure, why not try an exterior application, an underground application, a
   rooftop application, or a suspended application?

Many weary engineers will resist the effort required in creative problem-solving
when they can borrow a solution that has been used before. Why not do the job the
way it has always been done, they ask? Cribbing from previous projects and "boil-
er-plating" reports (cutting and pasting previous reports) may be easier, but there is
always a better way to do a job; and ifyou don't find a better way your competitors
probably will. Ofcourse, certain sections are repeated in every report (such as the
"Liabilities" section), and you will take these from your standard forms, but the
core sections of the report should be custom-tailored. Everyproject and everyprob-
lem is unique, even ifit looks like the same problem, and custom problem-solving is
what good engineering is all about.

Edward De Bono has written several books on thinking processes, and has coined
the term lateral thinking. Truly creative thinking, he believes, must go beyond our
two usual cognitive processes of natural thinking and logical thinking.
  Very briefly, natural thinking is the instinctive type of thinking. Say you need a
new car. The natural thought goes like this:
   I had a Volkswagen before and I liked the positive response in the steering. I liked
   the peppy engine that was efficient in town yet had enough power on the highway.
   My dad always liked a Volkswagen and he has had three of them. I'll go down to
   the dealer and see what they have.
   Logical thinking is a more critical type of thinking. You visit the different car
dealers and get the brochures with the specifications ofthe engine capacity, and the
type of brakes the car has on the front and rear wheels. You go to the library and
read the consumer guides that compare the different cars. You decide ifyou need a
city car, a 4 X 4, a pickup truck or a sports car. You test-drive the different choices
you select as serious possibilities and you choose the best car.
   De Bono's lateral thinking is a broader, more reflective way ofthinking. You step
back and take a look at the issue, looking at your thinking and redefining its pur-
pose. Do you really need a car at all or do you need some means ofgetting to work
and back home? Can you carpool? Can you buy a car with a friend or roommate?
Can you take a bus? Can you move to a location closer to work and walk or ride
your bike? Can you rent or lease a car for less money and less worry in the long run?
Can you lease a car in the summer and take cabs and buses in the winter?

Take your attention off the problem and submit yourself to some different influ-
ences and apply them to the problem, moving back and forth between these
oblique influences and the possible applications. For instance, you might take a
12      PART I: General Principles of Writing and Communicating in Engineering

walk through a hardware store or sporting goods shop and think that the racket
press hanging on the wall holding an antique wooden tennis racket is an idea you
could use. Perhaps the graphite racket gives you an idea for a lightweight stress-
laden apparat~~ Perhaps a plastic sprinkler spike can be a due to securing guy wires
for some equipment.
   Random input ofthis kind can provide a new entry into the problem.

Set up a fixed quota ofalternative approaches. And don't follow any approach until
you have met your quota. Thus you give yourselftime to explore many possibilities
before you focus on one. Say you decide on six solutions. You may be able to come
up with three quite readily, but then hit a wall. Nevertheless, make yourself con-
struct three more. In so doing you may come up with two utterly foolish ideas that
trigger a brilliant one.

Break the situation up into separate parts and then take each part separately in turn
as the centre of attention. This again delays the urge to leap to a solution too soon
and helps you break up habitual patterns in your thoughts.

Problem-solving also involves an observation/speculation type of mental training:
learning to ask questions about things to find answers. Leonardo da Vinci was a
master observer/speculator, a fact revealed in his art and his mechanical experi-
ments. In one ofhis notebooks, he asked:
     Why is the fish in the water swifter than the bird in the air when it ought to be the
     contrary since the water is heavier and thicker than the air and the fish is heavier
     and has smaller wings than the bird?
and answered himself:
     This happens because the water is of itself thicker than the air and consequently
     heavier, and it is therefore swifter in filling the vacuum which the fish leaves behind
     it in the place whence it departs; and also the water which it strikes ahead is not
  A child at a nature camp on the Queen Charlotte Islands on the north coast of
British Columbia was lying on his back in the moss and observed, "The rain drops
in a spiral." Train your eyes to see.

Create a formal output opportunity. Take a colleague to lunch. Ideas spark offeach
other. Academics, business people, dramatists, and many professionals recognize
the need to bounce ideas around in a milieu outside the office, away from the walls
that may limit a broader oudook.
                            CHAPTER I: Writing and Problem-Solving in Engineering    13

   In every class when the students work together in groups of two or three, the
ideas that ricochet back and forth in the dynamics ofthe group often surpass in ver-
satility and diversity the ideas the students generate by themselves. Given time and
solitude, a student may develop a brilliant, efficient, and inspired idea that no one
else has thought of; but general problem-solving benefits from the broad mental
stimulation others can provide.

New York social psychologist Dr. Irving Taylor described the incubation stage as a
period in which:
   experiences and information mill and flow freely about in the mind without being
   boxed into previous patterns [solutions]. This incubation time is necessary before
   parts become meaningfully united.
Let all the ideas and information you have gathered sit in your head without con-
scious demands while you occupy yourself in undemanding distractions - even
sleep (the office pillow could be a necessary addition). Let the material digest in
your subconscious.
   Dr. Gregory Ziboorg notes:
   The best creative work is done unconsciously ... so let men be alone,
   if we are to utilize creativity, we ought to permit creativity to grow.
Denis Flanagan, editor of Scientific American, confirms this concept:
   First, one makes a conscious effort to answer a question.
       Then one stops conscious work. In Poincare's image, the atoms of thought
   are free to move about and associate themselves subconsciously. By such associa-
   tion the question is answered and the answer may then be consciously verified.
   .. .the most significant act of scientific creation often occurs below the level of
   Let the ideas grow and associate with each other and find new patterns for them-
selves. This serendipity effect has been well documented. E. Finlay Carter, an electri-
cal engineer who was the Director of Stanford Research Institute, describes the
pattern ofgenius:
   First, there is the recognition of the problem; next, a period of study and, almost
   always, a period of deep frustration. This was followed by revelation, realization
   and finally, elation.
  Whenever Isaac Asimov was stymied in a dead-end perplexity, he simply went to
a movie, one that was loaded with action but made no demands on the intellect.
He deliberately avoided any conscious thinking on his problem and when he came
out of the movie he knew exactly what he needed to do. He maintained that this
technique never failed.
  Albert Einstein said he got his best ideas while he was trimming his beard - when
14    PART I: General Principles of Writing and Communicating in Engineering

his mind was concentrating on a simple, pleasant task, free of the tyranny of orga-
nized thought.

Often you have solved a problem but you don't recognize the solution:
   A couple had a terrible hum in their new house. Since they did not have their
furniture, they were sleeping on the livingroom floor and could hardly sleep for the
annoyance of this loud sound. What could it be?
   They turned offthe power. It continued.
   They checked the water pipes. It continued.
   The wife wondered ifthere was a buried cable nearby. They asked. No.
   They checked outside to see if the noise was being induced from an external
source. No.
   "Do you have outside water sources?" asked a consultant.
   "No, but we have incredible water pressure. Even ifl have the sprinklers on out-
side I still have plenty ofpressure in the house."
   Now that is not normal in the city. An engineer they consulted knew that some-
times the city will put a booster pump to increase the water pressure in certain loca-
tions. When the homeowner checked with the city public works, sure enough
there was a water pump underground near their house, and the pipes, tight against
the frame ofthe house, were vibrating. By moving and padding them they resolved
the problem.
   Notice that very early in the search for a solution there was a suggestion that
there might be a cable buried outside. This line ofthought was not fully explored-
that even if there was no cable there could be something else. If they had thought
about the thinking they were doing they would have found their answer.

   A group ofstudent engineers were asked to do a cluster diagram ofpossible caus-
es for a hum in a stereo system. The objective was to investigate causes that would
cost nothing to fix before packing the equipment off for expensive repairs.
   "I don't know anything about electronics," one of them protested. But soon,
under pressure, the protesting student came up with a cluster full of no-cost ideas:
equipment vibrating on top ofthe stereo, induced hum from adjacent equipment,
hum from the speakers themselves, a grounding problem, or a loose connection.
   Only when you have exhausted the possibilities should you consult a specialist.
(Except ofcourse in design situations, when you hire the expert at the start. Retro-
fit is always much costlier than informed preplanning.)

Clarify and Evaluate Solutions
When you have considered many factors and roughed out the best possible solu-
tions, then you have to evaluate the ideas. Go back and reexamineyourpurpose and
                           CHAPTER I: Writing and Problem-Solving in Engineering    15

your objective. Judge the design, solution, or proposal in the light of that objective.
Then assess the efficiency of the plan. Assess the economy and the practicality of
installation. Make your decisions.

  For example, in 539 B.C., Cyrus II the Great came to Babylon to conquer the
walled city. The usual attack strategies were not feasible:
1. Scale the wall The wall was too high.
2. Storm the gates and overpower the people Impractical, since the gates were
   too well fortified.
3. Cut off the supplies and starve the people The inhabitants were too well
   provisioned for siege.
4. Put the soldiers in boats and take them down the Euphrates River into
   the city (the river Howed through the city) Cyrus didn't have any boats, just
   foot soldiers.
What did he do? Since he only had foot soldiers, Cyrus diverted the river upstream
and marched into the city on the dry riverbed.
  The solution was simple, efficient, and successful.

Translate the Ideas into Workable Tangible Applications
An engineer takes an idea (his or her own or someone else's) and, using knowledge
of materials, theories, processes, and machines, translates it into tangible, applica-
ble use. The problem he or she faces is how to do it.
  Once the idea has been tested against the efficiency factors, get to the drawing
board and work out the details. For example, in Cyrus' case, the questions that
arose must have been: How many men would be needed to rechannel the river?
Where would they make the diversion? Would they divert the whole river in one
move when ready, or gradually reroute the flow of the water? How would they
bring it back to its normal channel on the other side of the city? How would they
keep the Babylonians from knowing about their plans? And so on.
  This is the point where the engineer displays his or her ingenuity with materials,
techniques, and methods. What is needed is flexibility in perceiving new and
unusual uses ofold knowledge and applications.
   When the design has been outlined, brainstorm for every possible source offail-
ure to your system or apparatus. Write them down. The success of an engineer
depends on how failsafe her or his design is. Incorporate the necessary protections
or change the design to reduce the possibilities. Assess the outcomes.
  The nice thing about a really creative idea is the simplicity ofthe solution.
16     PART I: General Principles of Writing and Communicating in Engineering

Emphasize the Goals
John E. Arnold, in a paper on creativity in engineering, warns against the pitfall
ofoveremphasis on technique (and underemphasis on goals), which leads to a situ-
ation where you only solve a narrow range of problems and fail to see and solve
other significant problems.

After you have engaged in creative problem-solving and have come up with solu-
tions, you must write your report. The rest ofthis text is concerned with this aspect
ofyour job.

1. Make three observations and five speculations about each of them.
   For example:
   a. You see someone wearing heavy leather boots on a hot day.
   b. You see a wet patch on a stretch of dry lawn.
     c. You see the wisps ofsnow flying up outside your window.
        Why? (Five times.)
2. Define the following problems in their broader context:
   a. How can you fashion better eyeglasses?
   b. How can you improve the kitchen stove?
     c. Where will you build a dam for a hydro power station?
     For example: "How can we fix the pipe?" Improved: "How can we stop the
     water from leaking?" Thus fixing the pipe becomes only one of the options (if
     the pipe is inaccessible, fixing the pipe may not be the best solution).
3. Suggest solutions for the restated problems.
4. Anticipate (list) all the ways in which one of the following can fail:
   • A ballpoint pen • A small bridge • A clothes dryer
   • A garden hose         • A refrigerator • A bicycle
5. Give yourself three minutes to come up with as many ideas as possible on one
   ofthe following problems:
   • Freeway gridlock • Housing sprawl • Bicycle safety
   • Wet dog feet          • Oil spills       • Window drafts
6. Give yourself five minutes to develop one of the ideas from question 4 above
   into a usable solution.
                          CHAPTER I: Writing and Problem-Solving in Engineering   17

7. Choose one of the following situations:
   • Car exhaust emissions
   • Traffic (or bike) accidents
   • Cold ears (hand/feet/nose) in winter
   • Students/professional stress
   a. State what the problem is. Rewrite the statement three or four times.
   b. Outline four approaches to a solution, or part-solution, to the problem and
      indicate how the solution can be applied.
     Example: Foot and leg injuries by athletes. Three statements ofthe problem
   could be:
   • The athletes are straining muscles in the gym.
   • The athletes are pulling tendons and muscles playing basketball.
   • The jumping and fast changes ofdirection in basketball are injuring the
     players' legs and feet.
   Four precautions that can be taken:
   1. Cushion the floor by building springs into it.
   2. Cushion the players by providing them with air footwear.
   3. Treat the floor with non-slip paint.
   4. Condition the athletes, enforce longer pre-game warmups, and when they
      are waiting to play have the players stretch and move rather than sit on
      the bench.
8. How would you have extinguished the oil fires in Kuwait after the GulfWar in
   1991? (List all the ways you can extinguish a flame - any flame, small or large.)
   Note: The Canadian team was the most successful, stopping 180 fires; but the
   Hungarians were the most ingenious, using a very simple method. The best
   ideas are simple and efficient.
                 General Writing Skills

In fiction and poetry, one person will often derive an understanding different from
another's. This is perfectly acceptable, since the symbols and images used in fiction
lend themselves to different interpretations by different individuals who bring their
own perceptions to the experience. But in engineering this is not desirable. The
person reading the instructions, the explanations, the directions, the discussion, or
the solution must get the perception from the communication that the writer
intends - else bridges will fall down and satellites will malfunction!
   Effective writing consists in selecting the right words - exact words - and coax-
ing them into a shape - a sentence - that communicates the ideas the writer has in
his or her own mind. This is true even though he or she may also use any other
means to succeed in this effort: graphs, charts, drawings, maps, etc.

The purpose ofwriting is to communicate ideas and information. If the words are
not well chosen the message will be vague, and communication will break down.
Always go back to the purpose of any activity for the key to its success. Don't
choose words to fabricate some artificial effect. Choose them for the needs of the
reader. In this way you will avoid many of the irritating pretensions and archaic
tendencies that can creep into professional writing. For example, you will not write
the following sentence:
   " Unfortunately, in the light of our current needs, despite our ongoing efforts
     to turn the situation around, we must cancel forthwith our order for 20
     ergonomic computer chairs.
but rather:
   ,/ We regret that we must cancel our order (P.O. #736) for 20 ergonomic
      computer chairs.

                                               CHAPTER 2: General Writing Skills    19

By keeping your purpose in mind, you will also avoid cliches, jargon; and weak or
wordy phrases, such as:
   at this point in time                         ---* now
   due to the fact that                          ---* because
   in the event that                             ---* if
   when all is said and done                     ---* afterward
   optimize the impacting factors of             ---* improve
   sooner or later                               ---* on Friday, March 15
   it seems that the line is broken              ---* the line is broken
   I was wondering if you                        ---* can you
   thank you for your time and consideration     ---* (omit entirely)

Unfortunately, there are times when you write exactly what you mean in the best
words you can find and still people do not understand what you are saying. Why?
Often the reason is that they do not understand the meaning ofthe terms you use.

Define Your Terms
Before you can explain anything, the reader must know what your terms mean.
Many words in the English language have several very different meanings. For
example, gravity can mean either the force that draws all objects toward the centre
of the earth or graveness. To crown someone can mean either putting a crown of
honour on a person or hitting that person on the head.
   There are also new words and usages that continually emerge in living languages.
For example, nonsexistlanguage -language that is free ofgender bias - has become
common. It entails gender-fair usage, semantic devices such as parallel treatment
(e.g., John andMary Simmons instead of Mr. Simmons andhis wife, Mary), and gen-
der-neutrallanguage. Gender-neutral language is one of the components of non-
sexist language, referring to neutral terms such as flight attendant and police officer.
(See later for a fuller discussion.)
   Technical terms are often old words given new meanings that some readers may
not know ':'::Eor example, load and mouse in the field of computers. Anticipate any
words your teader may not understand, then consciously decide where to place the
definition. Remember that if you simply explain the meaning of your terms the
first time you use them, the reader will have to thumb back through the whole
report or letter looking for the definition. This is time-consuming and frustrating.
Consequently, most reports, manuals, and instruction booklets provide a glossary
of specific terms and abbreviations at the beginning, or sometimes at the end, of
the material.
   In its Customization Guide in the Network Control Program, IBM provides a
24-page glossary which includes the following:
   ACF     Advanced Communication Function
   peripheral link A link that connects a peripheral node to a subarea node
  Often a shon explanation or definition ofthe particular parts ofa system design
and the locations of certain features is necessary. (See the sample report given in
Appendix B.)
20      PART I: General Principles of Writing and Communicating in Engineering

Use Concrete, Specific Terms
Use precise, specific words rather than abstract, general ones to convey as much
information as possible. For example:
     K Many things, from ocean currents from Chile to volcanic disruption in Iceland,
        affect our weather.
     ,/ Many factors affect our weather, such as the volcanic eruptions in Iceland,
        sunspot activity, and the warm ocean currents from the southern hemisphere
        that create the EI Nino effects.
In the above example, things conveys no information; in fact, the word irritates
the reader. Identify the things. Make every word carry as much meaning as

Use Nonsexist Words
Many words contain overt or subliminal sexist bias and these sensitive words
must be avoided. For example, often the titles Miss and Mrs. make unnecessary
reference to a woman's marital status. In a letter, then, always write Ms. to a female
recipient unless she has indicated in previous correspondence that she wishes to
be tided Mrs.
   The government of British Columbia and other governments have compiled
guidelines for the removal ofsexist bias in government publications. The following
are some ofthe suggestions included in the B.C. style guide.
   Suggested alternatives to he, his, man, him:
• Use the plural
     K Each manager should ensure that he follows his own procedures.
     ,/ Office managers should ensure that they follow their own procedures.
• Eliminate personal pronouns altogether
     K Each applicant must submit his resume.
     ,/ Each applicant must submit a resume.
• Use she or he or he or she, but use sparingly
• Use you or one or they as a singular pronoun
     ,/ One expects to spend more on quality products.
• Rewrite the sentence
     K When an editor revises a document, he usually marks his changes in red pen
        or pencil.
     ,/ When revising a document an editor usually marks changes in red ink.
  Portray women as individuals, giving parallel treatment to the sexes. For
     man and wife                     -+ husband and wife/wife and husband
     Mr. Tanaka and Mary              -+ Mary Sorensen and Robert Tanaka
                                                         CHAPTER 2: General Writing Skills   21

   Dr. Schmidt and his wife Janet          ---*   Ed and Janet Schmidt
   Mrs. Ed Schmidt                         ---* Janet Schmidt
   Ladies and gentlemen                    ---* colleagues/delegates/members
   lady 'doctor                            ---* doctor
   the'weaker sex                          ---* (omit entirely)
   she was a proud old vessel              ---* it was a proud old vessel

  The following are suggested alternatives to false generics:
   ladylike, manlike, manly         ---* elegantlwell-mannered/strong
   career woman                     ---* professional/business executive
   manageress                       ---* manager
   cameraman                        ---* camera operator
   clergyman                        ---* c1eric/preacher/bishop/etc.
   mailman                          ---* letter carrier
   early man or primitive man       ---* early peoples/primitive humans
   fireman, workman                 ---* firefighter/worker
   man-hours                        ---* worker-hours
   man-made                         ---* synthetic/artificial/hand-made
   manpower                         ---* staff/employees/human resources/personnel
   spokesman                        ---* spokesperson/spokesman/spokeswoman

Ifthe sentences you write are dysfunctional, with syntax problems, the message will
be distorted and confusing. For example:
   K The students entertained a feeling of distrust toward their laboratory results.
   .t The students didn't trust their laboratory results.

What Is a Sentence?
Very briefly, a sentence consists ofa subjectand a predicate.
  The subject is a noun or a pronoun, and is the doer ofthe action. It can be singular:
   The book has a red cover.
or compound:
   The pen and pencil match the cover.
All sentences must have a subject except sentences that are commands:
   Go to the meeting at three o'clock.
In this case, a command has the understood subject "you" as in:
   [You must] go to the meeting at three o'clock.
The predicate ofa sentence consists ofa verb and, often, an object o/the verb.
   The curve of the graph corresponds to the equation.
                               Verb                  Object
                                                   ofthe verb
22         PART I: General Principles of Writing and Communicating in Engineering

The following sentence can be divided into the parts ofspeech and the parts ofthe
sentence (as shown in Table 2-1):
     Teachers carefully mark the first essays for syntax problems.
  The above is a simple sentence, having only one subject and one predicate.
  A clause has a subject and a predicate also, but since it does not express a com-
plete thought it cannot stand alone and so is not a sentence. For example, "Because
he has been revising as he writes" is not a sentence.

                                    Part ofSpeech                       Part ofSentence
Teachers                            Noun                                Subject
carefully                           Adverb                              Modifier
mark                                Verb                                Verb (ofpredicate)
the                                 Adjective                           Definite article, modifier
first                               Adjective                           Modifier
essays                              Noun                                Direct object (ofverb)
for                                 Preposition                         Preposition
syntax                              Noun                                Modifier
problems.                           Noun                                Object ofpreposition

  A compound sentence is one that has two independent (or main) clauses; that is,
the sentence has two subjects and two predicates. For example:
     Engineers design systems and clients buy their designs.
     --.           "'""
                               ~      ---                 """'
A complex sentence has an independent clause and at least one dependent clause.
For example:
     Engineers design electrical systems that architects need.
     ---                                    .--.......           'V"'        .,..

               Independent clause

     ~---------------                                    -------------
                                                         Dependent clause

     Leonard hired many of the applicants who wanted the work.
  There are infinite variations and elaborations on these basic structures, but every
sentence must have a something (a subjec~ that does something (a verb).

Problems with Sentences
A sentencefragment is missing either a subject or a predicate. For example, the fol-
lowing has no predicate:
     )c    The first-floor hallway having two entrances and exits without proper lighting
           over the doorways.
                                                CHAPTER 2: General Writing Skills   23

Ifyou ask "What is the subject?" you find you have thejirst-floor hallway. Ifyou ask
"What does the first-floor hallway do?" you find you don't have a proper answer
because there is no verb. Having looks like a verb, but it is merely a verbal intro-
ducing a phrase. You would have a sentence after changing the verbal to a verb:
   ,/ The first-floor hallway has two entrances and exits.
The following fragment has neither a subject nor a verb.
   K Third, the height of the thermometer.
   ,/ Third, the thermometer reading was above normal.
There is no main clause in the following fragment:
   K To avoid environmental damage, where sound waves are generated which are
      reflected and refracted by the underlying geological strata.
   ,/ To avoid environmental damage, one can use the reflection of sound waves to
      detect the geological nature of the underlying strata.
Do not be misled by the length of a fragment. Even long ones do not qualify as

There are many types offaulty sentences. Some of the most amusing contain mis-
placed modifiers, such as the following:
   K While in the river baiting the hook, the bear knocked over the food box.
The modifier modifies bear by mistake.
   ,/ The bear knocked over the food box while I was in the river baiting the hook.
   K Perched high in the tree, I tried to reach the cat.
Who was perched high in the tree?
   ,/ I tried to reach the cat that was perched high in the tree.
Generally, to avoid modifier problems, place the modifier close to the word to be
modified or rewrite the sentence in some other way.

A run-on sentence is two complete sentences presented as one:
   K The trip was very long he missed the first speaker.
  A comma splice is a sentence with two complete ideas incorrectly joined by a
comma. The problem can be corrected in one offour ways:
   K The trip was longer than he expected, he missed the first speaker.
1. Use a semicolon.
   ,/ The trip was longer than he expected; consequently he missed the first
24      PART I: General Principles of Writing and Communicating in Engineering

2. Make two sentences.
     ,/ The trip was longer than he expected. He missed the first speaker.
3. Make a compound sentence.
     ,/ The trip was longer than he expected. and he missed the first speaker.
4. Make a complex sentence.
     ,/ He missed the first speaker because the trip was longer than he expected.

     " The game was held in the new gymnasium, which was a disaster. It was
Do which and it refer to the game or the gymnasium?
     ,/ The game we watched Friday night in the new gymnasium was a disaster.
Avoid using it and they and you will avoid many ambiguous sentences. Also, use
which and that carefully so you are clear what they refer to.

Often you include a list in a sentence (for example, "red, green, and blue"). Some-
times the items are complex, and in such cases you must keep all elements consis-
tent in their presentation. For example:
     " Avoid using double negatives, not keeping your sentences short, and thinking
        of active verbs to use.
     ,/ Avoid double negatives. keep your sentences short, and use active verbs.
Keep items that are written in point form parallel by using a consistent verb form
and the imperative voice as shown in the following example:
     ,/ Be concerned that you make your report as easy to read as possible:
        • Place the glossary of terms at the beginning so that the reader will under-
           stand the words before he or she misreads the report.
        • Put the titles and labels clearly on your graphs and charts.
        • Place diagrams as close to the text description as possible.
        • Ensure that all enclosures are in fact enclosed.

To provide a smooth flow ofideas you need suitable transitions. These can often be
provided by conjunctions - connecting words that show a relationship between
ideas, such as and, but, unless, and because. The following sentence needs conjunc-
tions as shown:
     " The storm blew down 30 trees in the park. We have power. We came home
        over the Second Narrows Bridge.
     ,/ The storm blew down 30 trees in the park; however, the power was not
                                              CHAPTER 2: General Writing Skills    25

  ./ The storm blew down 30 trees in the park; consequently, traffic to and from
     West Vancouver was rerouted over the Second Narrows Bridge.

1. Define three ofthese terms;
   • Pressure • Grounding • Facility • Optimize • Centre ofgravity
   • Software • System         • Sound pollution   • Diameter
   • Loading (a program)
2. Remove, and improve on, the "low-information words" used here.
   a. The wheel turns at the rate of 1200 rpm.
   b. We wish to state that ifyou have any questions regarding this matter, please
      feel free to contact Kelly Billam.
   c. We plan tentatively to conduct preliminary tests before starting.
   d. The recording is made by means ofa special stylus.
   e. The installation will be carried out at 6 p.m. in the evening to ensure mini-
      mal disturbance ofstudents.
3. Tighten or clarify. (Avoid the use of allow and enable.)
   a. On completion ofthe inspection, we found no evidence to support the
      view that negligence had occurred.
   b. This connection has allowed for a dramatic increase in the efficiency ofpro-
      cessing client requests.
   c. The cost estimates should enable the reader to see the steps of increasing
      costs as features are added.
4. Make the following statements parallel in structure.
   a. The technicians were given training in organizing technical data and in how
      to present their written conclusions.
   b. Information will be placed in a table that is easy to read and
   c. We have found that the new system has four disadvantages:
      • Too costIy to operate.
      • It causes delays.
      • Fails to use any of the existing equipment.
      • It permits only one in-process examination.
5. Rewrite the following, improving the words, sentences, and content. Refer to
   Appendix A, "Common Punctuation Problems," ifnecessary.
   I am well aware that you purchased a 1982 BMW this summer and I agree
   that they are excellent cars. There are some other aspects of BMW ownership
   that should be considered. For instance, the high cost of maintenance. A tuneup
   with a regular service can run up to $500. Another thing to consider is the equally
26        PART I: General Principles of Writing and Communicating in Engineering

     high cost of repair. Parts are typically priced 200 to 300% more than the same
     part for a regular car. Also, how many times during the day do you wonder if
     your car will be in one piece in the student parking lot when you return, leaving
     you dead in the water with no transportation. Believe it or not, I have the solu-
     tion. I'm selling my 1984 Honda Civic Hatchback.
     I was heading home for the weekend, it was a beautiful Friday afternoon,
     the tail end of summer, but you could feel the chill of fall in the air. I was
     on crutches so Neil offered to drive me to Swartz Bay which I accepted; who
     wants to ride the bus.
6. Correct, vary, and improve the sentences in the following paragraph, using suit-
   able transitions from one idea to the next:
     The artificial environment was created in an indoor/outdoor facility. The artificial
     environment consisted of two identical lake/stream systems. These systems were
     constructed specifically for the experiment. The magnetic field patterns surround-
     ing the streams flOWing into Lake I were kept constant. MagnetiC field inducers
     were placed at various locations along the streams flowing into Lake 2. Each sys-
     tem was left constant for a year. Until the salmon were ready to spawn the follow-
     ing year. At this time the magnetic fields surrounding the streams flowing into Lake
     2 were altered. We used the inducers to alter the fields. Then we switched the
     magnetic field patterns. One stream was switched with the other stream's
     magnetic fields. The results were exactly what we had predicted.
7. Rewrite the following, improving the wording and comprehensibility:
     Our software certification system uses a risk analysis methodology for evaluating
     the security threats of a software application and its supporting network envi-
     ronment and requires its sensitive and critical software application be certified
     prior to operation. During the sensitive application risk accessment, the threats
     previously mentioned are examined follOWing a model. A Risk Management Plan
     contains the results of the risk evaluation and provides a plan for implementing
     the evaluation recommendations.
        Special Writing Skills Needed
                in Engineering
Given the problem-solving nature of engineering, there are four primary writing
activities the engineer should master.
1. Description The ability to describe things (equipment, tools, components),
   sites, and engineering projects to the uninformed and colleagues
2. Explanation or instruction The ability to give instructions and explain sys-
   tems to many different individuals and groups (such as public service workers)
   so well that no one is confused, no one is in doubt about what the project,
   mechanism, or system will and won't do, and no one misunderstands his or
   her role in any project
3. Persuasion The ability to convince others that you can solve their problems,
   and do it better than others
4. Summarization The ability to read, listen, and write accurately
This chapter expands and develops features needed in your writing to improve
these skills.

Description is part of every writing experience. In engineering, you may be called
upon to describe any of the following:
•   The nature ofa problem
•   The conditions ofa site
•   The purpose ofa proposal
•   The reasons for procedures
•   The specifications ofequipment
Therefore, description requires accuracy without ambiguity. The success of your
description will be reflected in how well your reader understands your communi-
cation. Your description fails when someone phones and asks you, "What do you
mean here on page 3..."
  Any means that you can use to help the reader/audience understandwhat you are

28      PART I: General Principles of Writing and Communicating in Engineering

trying to communicate are to be encouraged. Whether you use analogies, sketches,
maps, diagrams, graphs, measurements, or photos, do try to think in full, visual
   Good description incorporates these characteristics:
•    Avoidance of ambiguity
•    Concrete terms and specific details
•    Spatial coherence
•    Chronological coherence
•    Coherent us~ oftransitions
•    Judicious use ofcomparison or analogy
Descriptions ofobjects or things often entail, first of all, a definition. There are two
questions that a definition has to answer:
1. What class does the object belong to? This is answered as follows:
     Lasagna is a food consisting of ...
     A diamond is a preCious stone found in ...
2. What are the distinguishing features? Make reference to common shapes that
   everyone knows, for example, "cigar-shaped," "bell-shaped," "horizontal,"
   "right-angled," "tubular," and so on.
     A disk is a computer storage component in the drive system consisting of a rigid
     square plastic holder that protects a small round thin floppy plastic disk. 3.5" or
     5.25" in diameter ...
     These features must be in spatial order.

Guidelines for Description
Unless you are vigilant, ambiguity can unconsciously creep into your sentences.
For example:
     We have based our recommendations on the limitations of your current system.
The reader ofthis will be confused trying to determine whether the recommenda-
tions are intended to lessen the limitations of the system, whether they will be
using the limitations as a parameter within which they operate, or whether some
other meaning is intended. Another example: Ifa sign on the highway reads:

Are they selling fresh, frozen fish, or both fresh fish and frozen fish?
                           CHAPTE~ 3: Special Writing Skills Needed. in Engineering      29

  Another example ofa misleading statement:
   >C There is a rail overpass half a mile north of Main Street.
Does the railway go over the road or the road over the railway?
   .I The road passes under the eN railroad trestle half a mile north of Main Street.
  You have to consciously look for the ambiguities in your writing. Always ask, "Is
this saying exactly what I want to say?"

The clarity of any communication depends on the specificity of the information.
Increase the information content in your sentences. For example, if an industrial
site has a building that will be modified to accommodate a new computer facility
and you are told:
   K The building on the site is adequate to house the new facility.
you will have no idea what the facility will need for your purpose. On the other
hand, ifthe letter states:
   .I The existing building is a two-storey, 40-year-old building, 30 X 50 feet. Plant
      personnel occupy the second floor, where there are 4 private offices, 2 large
      open-area office spaces, 2 toilets, and a lunch lounge.
        On the main floor are 3 large workshops with 2 toilets.
        A large parking garage is attached at the south end with a loading bay into
      the workshop area. There has been no updating on the building.
then you, the reader, can more readily assess the situation. You will know without
further investigation that:
1. The forty-year-old building will have older wiring that is probably not
   adequately shielded for computer purposes.
2. There will not be easy access through the ceiling to run the conduit.
3. The noise level will probably be high because ofthe open-space plan.
4. There will be electrical interference from the machinery on the lower floor.
Using careful observation and writing specific detail, you will convey more infor-
mation and you will save many hours of clarification later. The following is an
example from a hydro company report.
   K Even with low utilization in those rural areas, the winter peak can overload the
The content level per word is low, conveying very little information. The revised
report might read:
   .I Even with a low rural transformer utilization factor of 35 percent in the
      Gillespie Road area, the winter peak current can easily exceed looA.
  Many engineers write specification documents that lead to bitter (read legal)
misunderstandings because they are not carefully written. A good habit is to have
30      PART I: General Principles of Writing and Communicating in Engineering

someone else read your specification documents for ambiguities and misdirections
that you, in your familiarity with the materials and equipment, may not have made
clear. For instance, a loosely written specification may state, under a lighting
     K Locate the light for maximum illumination on a clear wall area.
Some engineers choose to leave the "spec" in this open style and leave the exact
location of the light to the contractor. However, when the engineer checks the
installation and mentions to the contractor that the light doesn't adequately illumi-
nate the door, and tells the contractor "Yoll'll have to move it," the conversation
might go as follows:
        "This is where it gives the greatest illumination in the hall. The spec didn't
     mention the door:'
        "Anyone knows that a light near an exit is to light the doorway. You'll have to
     move it:'
        "The spec said 'maximum illumination' and you don't get as much light there,
     since the sign blocks some of the light:'
        "You'll have to move it:'
        "It'll cost you extra:'
A serious argument can ensue, especially ifthere are 20 or 40 such exit doors in the
  So be specific. Write:
     Locate the light within 3 feet of the exit door, 8 feet above the finished floor on a
     clear wall space.

When reading a description the reader must be able to follow the information with-
out difficulty. If you are describing how a microcomputer system can be used to
control industrial mechanical systems or can be used to determine the metal
fatigue in an airliner, you will want the reader to be able to follow the process with-
out confusion. Development of the process depends on readers' recognizing the
value ofthe new concept and supporting the development.
   Consider how a reader's mind will visualize your description. Will you start at
the north and go clockwise? From the centre and radiate out? From the perimeter
in? From top to bottom?
   Use simple comparisons, to circles, triangles, squares, cones, cigars, or spheres
(balls are spheres, not circles), or use expressions such as "needle-nosed,"

A sense of flow in time from one action to the next seems the most natural
sequence possible, but unless you make a conscious effort to keep the description in
proper order, time shifts in the sequence ofinstructions may introduce problems.
     K Replace the wheel on the axle. Tighten the bolts finger-tight before releasing
       the jack. Remember to tighten the bolts diagonally.
                           CHAPTER 3: Special Writing Skills Needed in Engineering   31

With these instructions, the spare tire will probably be bolted on before the reader
realizes he or she should have been threading the bolts onto the hub in a cross-diag-
onal pattern.
   ,/ Replace the wheel on the axle. Tighten the bolts only finger-tight, in a diagonal
      sequence back and forth across the wheel. Release the jack. Using a tire iron,
      tighten the bolts - again in a diagonal sequence.

Ordinarily your mind can race along hopping from idea to idea, but when your
writing hops from idea to idea, the reader - not being in your mind to see the cross-
road shifts - gets hopelessly frustrated. Often he or she will have to go back over the
previous statements trying to relate the later ones to the earlier, trying to reason
why the statements are there. For example:
   )( The only place that would have the constant wind needed for the windmills is
      the sea wall. The construction of 20 or more windmills in this area would be
      costly and an eyesore for the neighbouring residents. You should also consider
      the effect of the ocean spray on your machinery.
What is the relationship of one point to another? The flaw in this type of incoher-
ence is either a lack of a focussed topic, an inadequate understanding of the pur-
pose, or the lack ofa statement introducing the points that are to follow. The writer
should have written:
   ,/ There are several problems that you have not addressed in your report:
      I. The only site in the district where there is a wind with an adequate constant
         velocity is by the sea wall. This site is probably not suitable, because the 20
         windmills (or more) that are necessary would create an eyesore for the
         neighbouring residents.
      2. The construction of the windmills near the sea wall would be costly and the
         effect of corrosion from the ocean spray on the machinery could be a cost
         factor, because ...

Aristotle believed the use of analogy was a sign of genius. Certainly the use of an
appropriate comparison/analogy is a sign ofcreative communication.

   If you describe the noise of some industrial generators as being comparable to
that of a train rumbling through the bathroom of a motel room in the middle of
the night, and the adjusted noise as being comparable to that from a distant high-
way, then the client will be able to understand the difference in a way he or she can't
from a decibel chart.
  Analogies are used infrequently in written reports, but they are often used in ver-
bal presentations and discussions with clients and civic officials. A decibel readout
32      PART I: General Principles of Writing and Communicating in Engineering

cannot convey the magnitude of the low-frequency body-vibrating rumblings as
well as the analogy can.
   Another example: If you are describing the problems in the containment of
sound in an open atrium building, comparing the properties ofsound to the prop-
erties of fog that will seep through any unglazed or uncovered passages will clarify
the problem for any architect or client.

Site Descriptions
Again, all the parts of this description must be concerned with spatial order. Can
th'e reader create the mental picture from your words?
1.   Describe the location from a map orientation.
2.   Describe the location in terms of north-south and east-west directions.
3.   Describe the geological terrain.
4.   Describe the specific relevant factors that will influence the problem or project.
For example:
     ,/ Ross Bay is an indentation in the South Coast of Vancouver Island in the City of
        Victoria. It is a pocket bay anchored on the west by a rock reef known as
        Clover Point and on the east by an unnamed promontory. A series of rock
        reefs extend eastward from Ross Bay including Templar Rock and Harling Point.
        The beach between headlands consists mainly of sand and shingle with some
        heavy rocks.
See also further discussion and examples of site descriptions in Chapter 12 and

Many writing tasks in engineering are either explanations ofmechanisms, systems, or
processes; instructions; or interpretations oftechnicalinformation andprocesses to non-
technical people.
   Civic government engineers will write concept reports for government officials
and public service workers, explaining how projects will be developed.
   Corporate engineers will write operation manuals and instructions.
   Consulting engineers will explain what materials are needed and, otten, why they
are needed; and otten they will explain how their designs conform to certain engi-
neering principles and theories.
   The following is an extract from a sewage treatment study explaining to a region-
al district board (nonprofessionals) the various options for treating sewage.
     The favoured practice for disposal of sewage effluent is by dilution in a large
     body of water. This is the best and probably the only way to protect man
     completely from toxic substances and water borne epidemics. In addition, this
     practice duplicates and follows natural laws and forces, by utilizing Nature's
     forces of self-purification. As is evident in some locations, however, Nature's
     ability for self-purification in receiving waters has been abused and overloaded.
                              CHAPTER 3: Special Writing Skills Needed in Engineering          33

Explanations of Mechanisms, Systems, or Processes
In such explanations, these steps should be followed:
1. Provide an overall description ofthe function, main parts, and appearance of
   the entire system.
2. Describe the function and appearance ofeach major part ofthe system or
   mechanism and its components.
3. Give a detailed explanation ofhow the mechanism operates or is used.
For example, a manual for the sales or servicing of a microwave oven would start
with a description ofthe mechanism and then proceed to the parts description and
the servicing procedures, as shown in Figure 3-1.

                 MICROWAVE OVEN
A microwave oven is a cooking device housed in a 1.2 to 3.0 cubic foot epoxy-coated, metal-
lined box. The food is cooked by radiating the food with high-frequency radio waves similar to
those used in your TV set. The waves, generated by an electron tube called a magnetron, enter
the cooking cavity through holes in the top of the inside cavity. The microwaves are distributed
evenly around the cavity by a "stirrer:' The stirrer, shaped like a fan, scatters the microwaves to
cook the food evenly.
   The microwave energy cooks the food and does not heat the containers the food is in, pro-
vided the containers are not metal.
   Microwaves have three characteristics: reflection, transmission, and absorpti~n.

Microwaves are reflected by metal objects; therefore, the oven interior is coated with epoxy
paint to reflect the waves. A mechanical stirrer distributes the microwaves evenly through
the oven.

Microwaves will pass harmlessly through materials such as glass, ceramic, paper, and certain plas-
tics. These materials are unaffected by the heating effect of the microwaves, because they do not
absorb them. The heat developed in these materials is from the heat of the food only.

Anything that is moist will absorb microwaves. When microwaves enter moist objects, a molec-
ular reaction occurs. The molecules begin to vibrate, causing heat by friction. This causes the
food to cook.
   Microwaves can penetrate food up to a depth of one inch. Larger foods are cooked internally
by conduction ofthe vibrating molecules toward the centre. There must be moisture in the food
or the cavity when the oven is on, to absorb the microwaves.
   Microwaves dissipate and cannot be retained in food.

Instructions must be chronologically coherent.
   In descriptions, the writer is more concerned with spatial coherence, starting per-
haps with overall appearance or primary purpose, and then showing the external
features leading to the internal features. Or the writer describes the overall size ofa
structure, and then, starting at the top or the bottom, proceeds spatially in an
34      PART I: General Principles of Writing and Communicating in Engineering

orderly fashion. Instructions, however, are concerned with a sequence ofaction in
time- first you do this, then you do that, followed by this and this, etc.
  In giving instructions, it is important to follow these steps:
1. List the tools and equipment necessary.
2. Outline any preparation that must be done before starting.
3. Describe the procedure in point form Include any hazards (these should be
   highlighted), and mention them beftrethe action to be taken.

Hints for Explanations and Instructions
Making a mistake in explaining anything is worse than giving no explanation at all.
Be certain of your information - if you are unsure, find out. Do not let time and
pressure, or plain laziness, deter you from this responsibility. The reader must be
able to follow written instructions and do so with safety and accuracy.

   If you are giving someone directions to the Cafe Mexico restaurant, you might
     Go down Government Street three blocks. turn left, then right, and two doors
     along Wharf Street is the Cafe. I'll be there.
The friend will never find you. He or she won't know in which direction to go
along Government, or where to turn. Rewrite:
     From the Douglas and Johnson Street intersection, go three blocks west on
     Johnson Street to Wharf Street. Take a right (north) at Wharf Street, and the
     second building along Wharf Street on the right is the Cafe Mexico.
There is a better chance these directions will lead the person to the enchilada.

Ifyou are careless and mix up "clockwise" and "counterclockwise," or black and red
wires, the consequences can ruin your life.

Instead ofwriting:
     )( Calibrate the oscilloscope to a beamwidth.
be specific and state the name of the meter and the range:
     ,f Calibrate the Tektronix oscilloscope to 1/2 to I percent on any working range.
                          CHAPTER 3: Special Writing Skills Needed in Engineering    35

Then when an operator ofthe equipment follows the directions and gets inconsis-
tent results, she or he can check the range, or make the necessary adjustments if
using a different scope.

A clear explanation means you have a coherent pattern that the reader's mind can
follow. When you tell someone how to change a filter, start by explaining how to
remove the spent filter and what precautions to take with each step, and then
describe a logical sequence of actions to make the replacement. Add a trouble-
shooting list in case the filter is not properly installed. Then, if, for example, read-
ers should install the filter backwards, they can recognize the problem.
   Make the explanations as mentally accessible, as easy, as possible.

Comparison is the basis of thought. The mind is almost compelled to respond to
comparisons offacts or ideas. The question "What do you want for dinner?" does
not often bring forth a useful suggestion. "Do you want Chinese food or lasagna?"
will elicit a better response.
   Without comparison or contrast, we can't perceive the reality of objects or the
impact ofideas. That is why eliminating the contrasts is the basis ofthe stealth fea-
ture of aircraft. The Yehudi device used late in the Second World War worked by
activating lights along the leading edge ofthe wings and the nose ofthe plane, then
adjusting them to the intensity of the sky's light. This masked the plane from
ground view to within a mile of the target, because the mind does not register the
sight ofan object without the contrast oElight. This concept was also used on the
tanks in the Gulf War.
   The reader also needs a contrast or comparison to register a mental impression.
You can say:
   )( This is the best-performance car in the medium price range on the road today.
and the reader will yawn over the familiar hype. But ifyou make a comparison:
   ./ This Mazda has more in-town pickup (0 to 60 in ten seconds) and road control
      with the ... suspension than the Toyota.
the reader will relate the information to his or her own experience ofthese cars and
decide whether this is a valid claim or not. The mind becomes engaged, making the
statement meaningful and understandable.

Often it is necessary to explain the effects ofinappropriate use applications ofyour
report or system. When the reader realizes that by connecting the machines or
computers to the wrong outlets, he or she will cause the whole system to crash, they
will probably follow the directions more carefully. This warning:
   )( Do not exceed recommended load.
may need a stronger presentation, such as:
36      PART I: General Principles of Writing and Communicating in Engineering

     .I Do not exceed recommended load. Excess load will damage the cones in the
       custom-designed speakers.

This is for easy scanning. It is important to keep the points parallel. For example,
do not write:
     K Follow these gUidelines:
       •    Headings of the instructions should be highlighted.
       •    Indent points systematically.
       •    Parallel construction of the points is best.
Instead, write:
     .I Follow these gUidelines:
        • Select headings for the instructions that highlight the different stages of
        • Indent the points systematically.
        • Keep the points parallel in form.
(See also Chapter 2 on parallelism in sentences.)

The art ofpersuasion is the basis ofmuch ofthe writing anyone does. In fact, every
piece of writing probably intends to persuade the reader in some manner. The
engineer will need well-developed persuasive skills in many of his or her writing
efforts, especially when writing the following assignments:
•    Proposals
•    Letters ofinterest
•    Recommendation reports
•    Letters of inquiry and request
•    Complaint letters
    The basis ofpersuasion is an understanding ofhuman nature. Take every opportu-
nity to learn more about people by listening to them everywhere - in airports, on
buses, in restaurants - hear what upsets and what pleases them. Read good litera-
ture that probes the interrelationships of human beings. And become more
self-aware. You are the closest human being to observe. How do you respond to
efforts by others to persuade you to change your mind on an issue? What factors
are a serious block to your acceptance ofa new idea?
   Most of us respond to:
•    Intelligent acknowledgement ofour position
•    Informed opinions
•    Strong credentials, credibility
•    Demonstrated understanding ofour problems
•    New, creative, or inventive suggestions
                            CHAPTER 3: Special Writing Skills Needed in Engineering       37

• Demonstration ofknowledge on the subject
• Previous record ofsuccess
•   Logical argument
•   A confident manner
•   Recognized authority
•   A professional tone and style
• Good appearance
All of these factors can be applied to your writing tasks. And since your writing
stands in for your personal presentation, you will consciously incorporate these fac-
tors into your persuasive writing assignments.
   (See Chapters 8 and 10 for examples ofproposals and persuasive letters.)

Tone is the means ofshowing your attitude to the reader:
• Your sense ofconfidence
• Your respect for the reader
• Your respect for the subject matter
The trick is to keep a delicate balance between formal and informal.

  A clean, clear writing style, stating what the reader needs to know without
excessive words, tells the reader that you are a competent, down-to-business pro-
fessional. Ordinarily, tone is of more concern in interest and application letters
and proposals - when the writer is on the "begging" end of the communication,
and, being unsure of his or her position, will tend to be too ingratiating,
pompous, or wishy-washy.

• Support your claims with knowledgeable, verifiable facts. Point out how you
  can be useful to your intended reader.
• Acknowledge the benefits you both stand to gain by working cooperatively.
  Few people can resist an invitation to take advantage ofsome useful gain, and
  even if they can't comply with your needs or requests at the time, they will be
  more inclined to be sympathetic the next time.
For example:
    Since we have specialist engineers in all types of stress analysis, Crow, Feathers,
    and Dutton can perform all the tests and performance evaluations you require.

• Avoid any provocation to hostility You cannot persuade anyone who has
38        PART I: General Principles of Writing and Communicating in Engineering

  become hostile to your cause. Consider how you personally respond to
  threats or insinuations against your product, your position, your work, or you
  personally. You may not show it, but you resent the suggestion and you want
  to retaliate, and so also will anyone you insult or put down, even indirecdy by
• Avoid force Recognize that you will feel a strong tendency to use force when
  you are determined to persuade someone to an idea or action you want them
  to take. Ifyou would be persuasive you will not provoke a negative reaction.
Do not write:
     )c   If you don't use the system security system that we specify then we can't be
          held responsible for the results, and you will have to suffer the consequences.
• Avoid slang and slander
• Av?id facetious references to other firms' performance or other jobs. Do not
     )c   We use T7PC backup systems to avoid the disaster that was visited upon the
          Central Bank tabulation centre.
• Avoid any expression of emotion You may feel emotional about a situation
  but when it is exposed in impartial black-and-white typeface, it appears very
  unprofessional. Do not write:
     )c   Iwould really like to see you incorporate more damage protection in the pack-
          aging of the equipment. It is very upsetting.
• Avoid any sexist language Sexist language or tone will get an immediate rejec-
  tion from most engineers, many ofwhom are female. (See also Chapter 2 on
  nonsexist language.)

There are three general types ofsummary:
• Descriptive
• Informative
• Combined descriptive and informative
In writing any summary, it is essential to:
1. Understand your material Read the material enough times to see the pivotal
   points of information so that your understanding ofthe material is dear.
2. Be accurate In everything you write as an engineer, be accurate. Ifthere are
   any doubts, research, ask questions, look it up. Learn to be diligendy careful:
     11.5 aviation accidents/lO,OOO air movements
                                             CHAPTER 3: Special Writing Skills Needed in Engineering                                              39

is quite different from:
    11.5 aviation accidents/lOO,OOO air movements

Types of Summaries
The descriptive summary simply describes what happens, or what a report consists
of, or what is being done but does not include any o/thespecific information. The fol-
lowing is a descriptive summary of a meeting:
   The meeting on October 17, 1990, between the government representatives and
   the consulting engineers was concerned with the preliminary research and the
   personnel needed to put the design together for the Kalamazoo Recycling Plant.
  Abstracts are the most common descri tive summ . They are used for cata-
logulllg purposes or for quick assessments 0   e contents ofa work/report/project
on the information page ofthe report. Figure 3-2 shows an abstract from a Depart-
ment ofNational Defense report for a program for modifYing computer represen-
t~tions ofships' hulls.

                                                       SECURITY CLASSIFICATION OF FOIIIM

  13. ABSTRACT {. bn~1 end tec:lu.1 sumlNl'V of thedocurnent 11 mey "so ",pear elsewhere In me body of the dotumeft1 Itself, It IS highly
      deSlrlOle that the astr-et of el,sslfled documentS bt uncl.sslfled. Each s--vraph of the abstrlCt shill begin With    *"     lndle.tron of the
      securnv clus,flatlon of tfle tntorrN'tlon 1ft the I*lIljIrlPh funless ttle document Itself 1$ unciasSlfiedl represented as (SI. lei. lRI. or (UI
      It 1$ not necesSII'y to Include here IIlStrac:ts In both offlc.1 lInVI.lltCS unless the text IS b1hnlliNIlI.

     The development of an autonanous expert system for identifying vessel classifications fran
 passive acoustic spectrograms is the ultimate goal of Artificial Intelligence (AI) work being
 conducted at OREA. An evolutionary development is a natural approach since application of AI
 technology has not yet been placed on an 'engineering' basis and development of carplex system
 is to sane extent still a research endeavour. A framework consisting of a series of
 practically achievable assistant systems, in which a human operator and a carputer share the
 identification task to varying extents, is proposed as a research-oriented basis for the
 development of a carpletely autonanous system.

The informative summary can take many forms, among them the following:
• Precis A condensation ofmaterial: papers, conferences, etc.
• Paraphrasing A translation ofhighly complex material for a more general
40      PART I: General Principles of Writing and Communicating in Engineering

• Note-taking A transcription of the hard facts concerning an event for a
  specific purpose, as is done in meetings, lectures, seminars
• Annual summaries Done for the purpose offorecasting the next year
• Mind-mapping and flowcharts A translation of information into pictorial
• Minutes of meetings A record ofwhat took place
  Informative summaries provide a condensed version ofthe actual information in
a document, meeting, or event. For example, the following would be an infor-
mative summary of the meeting described in the previous section on descriptive
     On October 17, Dr. Martin Renew (Deputy Minister, Environment) met with
     Matthew Pike and Marshal Lambert of Lambert Engineering to discuss the division
     of responsibility for the research and personnel needed for the design of the
     Kalamazoo Recycling Plant.
        For the October 24 meeting, Matthew Pike will report on other, similar instal-
     lations in the state, and Marshal Lambert will report on the current theories for
     efficient recycling methods.
For an informative summary follow this format:
1. IdentifY the subject, title, and author or speaker.
2. Describe the subject in one sentence (an abstract in a sentence).
3. Extract and condense the central ideas, the gist ofthe material, so that the
   reader can be informed on the subject. Use point form when necessary.

The combined summary contains a description ofthe report or proposal plus a very
briefinformative summary ofthe conclusions or recommendations (often the bot-
tom-line price). In engineering we must concern ourselves with two kinds of com-
bined summaries:
• Executive summaries
• Letters of transmittal
This is an example of an executive summary:
     The following report outlines the effect of automobile emissions on the environ-
     ment in British Columbia as requested by the Responsible Science and Technology
     Society. An explanation of the contributing factors in exhaust emissions, and the
     damage these factors effect on the air quality in our cities, is included.
       We recommend that the Society actively encourage better public transit to
     reduce the current use of private cars.
The other kind of combined summary, the letter of transmittal, is covered in the
chapters on letters (Chapters 7 and 8). Examples ofletters oftransmittal appear as
Figure 8-1 and in Appendix B, "Sample Recommendation Report."
                          CHAPTER 3: Special Writing Skills Needed in Engineering   41

As an engineer you will have to take notes for many purposes:
• To document your work
• To compile field and progress reports
• To justifY changes
• To keep your professional standing up to date
• To remember what specific jobs you must do
• To provide facts ifyou are involved in a dispute
The most important aspect ofnote-taking for any purpose is accuracy. Document-
ing your work is always necessary, especially on projects. Ifyou are called offthe job
to take on another, or ifyou fall ill or leave the job, the engineer who follows you
will need to know what you have done. And when you take over someone else's
projects, you need to know what has been completed. Also, when you review the
performance of workers and contractors, and the operation of a system, every
observation and every measurement is important.
   Note-taking is the scientific part ofengineering.
   When Dr. Frederick Banting was working on his insulin isolation research, another
   doctor was also trying to isolate insulin. The other doctor worked long and hard
   and actually succeeded in isolating the enzyme - before Dr: Banting.
     But he had not documented the processes he had used and HE WAS NOT ABLE
   TO REPEAT THE EXPERIMENT; so consequently his work Was of no use to any-
   one and he has gone into nameless obscurity.

  To document your work, keep ongoing notes ofany meetings with clients, other
consultants, architects, and contractors, and be fastidious in noting names, places,
and changes involved on any project. Buy a daytimer, preferably a small,
pocket-sized daytimer that is always with you. Note every meeting, highlight every
deadline, and note the phone number ofeveryone you run into on the job.
  Open a file on every job when you begin, and document everyone involved and
every assignment you are given in connection with the project. (See Chapter 6,
"Opening a File.")

• If yo~ have issu~d a verbal order on the job to adjust or ~hange even the slight-
  est pIece ofeqUIpment or process, note It down, and WrIte a field report and a
  change order later ifyou are the project manager. Ifnot, send a memo to the
  project manager.
• If there are any deficiencies in the work, note when you observed them and
  describe precisely what was deficient.
• Note any modifications or changes made in the installation ofany ofyour
You will then be well informed if and when problems arise.
42      PART I: General Principles of Writing and Communicating in Engineering

Before the meeting, mull over the agenda, and note any points that you could bring
up in the meeting. Many of the points you note will be brought up by other peo-
ple, but when asked for your contribution you will have done your homework and
can actively participate.
  At the meeting, write notes in your daytimer on any duties or jobs that you are
assigned. It is astounding how such assignments can seem obvious while the meet-
ing is in progress, but once you are outside the door you can't recall any details.
   Clarify what is expected of you when you are actually in the meeting, asking
such questions as "You will be needing the graphs of the stress tests for Monday, is
that right?" - and keep very clear notes about the answers.

     (See also Chapter 16, "Writing Tasks for Meetings.")

1. Describe the following:
   • A cantaloupe • A satellite dish             • A bicycle pump
   • A snowmobile • A venetian blind • Virtual reality
   What category does the item fall into? Complete the description.
2. Use an analogy or metaphorto explain some phenomenon, such as clearcutting
   forests, the Doppler effect, or fibre optics.
Coherent Details
3. Describe a sparkplug, calculator, or a stapler for:
   a. An information bulletin for service departments
   b. A Grade 12 mechanicS class
   c. A sales ad in a trade magazine
Site Descriptions
4. Describe the site in front ofyour building (window), as a suitable site for a
   proposed exam facility or artificial intelligence lab. Consider the spatial
   coherence, the overall location in respect to other buildings, the specific advan-
   tages and disadvantages of the site, and the noise, traffic, and sun aspect.
Spatial Coherence
5. Write a description of one of the shapes in Figure 3-3. Exchange descriptions
   with another student and try to sketch each other's shape.
Mechanical Description or Explanation
6. Explain the following systems:
   a. The floppy disk drive in a computer
   b. The thermostat mechanism for a furnace, stove, or fridge
                   CHAPTER 3: Special Writing Skills Needed in Engineering   43

44   PART I: General Principles of Writing and Communicating in Engineering

    c. The VCR system on your TV set
    d. The gear system ofa 10-speed or trail bike
 7. Write instructions for the following procedures:
    a. How to use a microwave
    b. How to make a devilled egg sandwich
    c. How to adjust the derailleur on a lO-speed bike
    d. How to use your calculator (for a commerce student or a child)
    Consider what tools, equipment, and preparation are necessary.
 8. a. Write directions to get from your room (office or classroom) to the air-
       port, to a restaurant, or to a hotel.
    b. Write directions to get from your home or classroom to a beach, a park,
       or a lake (not too far) where there are no road signs or house numbers
       (so that you are forced to say, for example, "Make a right at the big maple
               e )
       t ree, " tc..
 9. Write an abstract of the excerpt about microwaves given in Figure 3-1.
10. Write a descriptive summary ofsome course you are taking.
11. Write an informative summary on one ofyour courses.
12. Write an executive summary of an article in a newspaper.
13. Write a summary ofyour footwear or transportation needs and expenses for
    the past year.
 The Writing Process in Engineering

The following discussion loosely follows the sequence of the flowchart given in
Figure 1-1.

Every writing assignment is designed to present some information that the reader
will need or to resolve some problem. Consequently, the objective is the driving
mechanism ofthe assignment, which the writer must understand clearly in order to
steer the communication through to a successful conclusion.
• In a letter or memo the objective, main idea, or purpose ofthe letter is
  presented in the subject line (which begins "Re" or "Subject").
• In an essay, article, orpaper, it is the thesis statement.
• In a report, it may be titled "Objective" or "Introduction" or "Purpose."
You may have to rethink the objective several times until it is fully clear to you. For
example, ifyou are writing a letter asking for a security system for your computer
network, you will have to clarifY in your mind exactly what information you will
expect to receive from the reader. Are you asking for a proposal? For some general
information on the latest products? For consulting advice? For specific prices on
the different software available?
   SUBJECT: Computer security software information
   SUBJECT: Software quality assurance procedures
   SUBJECT: Software certification system applications
   SUBJECT: Request for information on integrating a security system into our
            computer network
   SUBJECT: Request for a proposal to install security software system
   SUBJECT: Security system software specifications and prices
  Say you need two technicians for a research project, and you have to go through
Personnel to get them.
• What is your subject line, your objective?
• Are you having to ask permission to hire two technicians?

46     PART I: General Principles of Writing and Communicating in Engineering

• Do you already have two technicians in your department but want them
  assigned full-time to your project?
• Are you simply requesting any two underutilized technicians?
• Do you need two technicians with particular expertise?
    Formulate in wtiting exactly what your purpose is. Rewrite the objective many
times ifnecessary. Print your objective in large letters above your workspace to keep
it in your mind continually as you work.
     OBJECTIVE: To get permission to hire two technicians who are experienced in
     custom board work
With a dear purpose/objective, you will eliminate the major contributor to inco-
herent ambiguity in your writing.

The Self-Generating Start
Getting started - overcoming the huge mental inertia - is one of the most difficult
aspects ofany writing task. There are so many ways to procrastinate and the writer
knows them all. Writing is thinking, and therein lies the problem. You have to have
ideas before you can write, and harnessing your thought processes to perform spe-
cific tasks meets with strong natural resistance.

  Understanding a little about how the brain works will help. The brain consists of
two hemispheres that perform different functions which can work in tandem or
• The left side ofthe brain is concerned with logical, analytical, verbal,
  numerical, judgemental tasks.
• The right side ofthe brain is concerned with the creative, intuitive,
  whole-concept, visual aspects.

Initially, you must try to use a technique that will release as much material from
your creative side as possible before engaging the left side, because once you engage
the judge in your mind, you will stop the flow ofnew ideas. The two processes rarely
function cooperatively. In fact, the possibility of travelling laterally and vertically
                                  CHAPTER 4: The Writing Process in Engineering    47

                  LEFT                                       RIGHT
                  Logical                                    Creative
                  linear                                 I   Intuitive
               Analytical                                    Pictorial
            Asks "How~"                                      Asks "Whatr'
               Numerical                                     Visual
           Organizational                                    Whole concepts
                  Verbal                                     Imagistic

at the same time is analogous to trying to do both types ofthinking at the same time.
   Ideally, the engineer will learn to develop creative and conceptual thinking in
tandem with critical thinking, but this will take considerable experience and prac-
tice. In fact, engineering is one of the few professions or occupations that require
several distinct thinking processes from both sides ofthe brain. Creative design and
problem-solving are right-brain activities that the engine,er shares with the artist,
while applied design, project organization, materials assessment, and research are
left-brain activities.
   When you start any writing assignment, draw forth as many ideas as you can,
using the right-brain creative abilities to create the overall concept, visualizing the
direction ofthe assignment, and to generate as much content as possible. The prin-
ciple behind this process is the "thought begat thought" concept coined by Henry
David Thoreau. Start with any thought and note any others that follow. The more
you note, the more will come to you. Don't stop until you have exhausted yourself
or your ideas.
   Then, when you have dug up every possible bone in your own personal lot of
ideas, brainstorm on where to look for more information and ideas.

Make a List
There are several different kinds oflists you can try. They fall into two categories:
• Freeform lists Title the topic and write words in lists. Ifyou stay with it long
  enough, being patient enough to let the words come, one word will nudge
  another and gradually you will be listing phrases, and often the list will expand
  into sentences, even paragraphs.
• Question lists Ask yourself questions about the project. Put the questions
  down one side ofthe page without answering them, leaving a couple oflines
  for each question to be answered.
   • Why am I doing this project?
   • What do they want me specifically to do on this project?
48       PART I: General Principles of Writing and Communicating in Engineering

     •   What other projects have a bearing on this type ofproject?
     •   What are some ofthe factors that will make this project unique?
     •   What exacdy is the purpose of this project?
     •   Who will read the report and what do they already know about it?
     •   What more will they need to know?
     •   How will we solve the problems involved?
     •   What other sources are available on this subject?
     •   Who should I get to help me?
     •   Why do I need their help?
     •   How much will it cost?
     •   How long will it take me to design the job?
     •   How long will it take others to do their part of the work?
     When you have considered every possible question and briefly sketched
     answers down the other side of the page, you will find yourself in an active
     writing mode.

Write/Draw a Cluster Diagram
This is a method particularly suited to right-brain activity. It is not Iogica4 in fact,
when I first tried the method I was higWy skeptical, thinking it silly and infantile.
Engineers tend to be rather left-brain, linear thinkers, and may be reluctant to give
the process a chance. But the creative right brain is not judgemental and does not
deal in "silly"; it responds to the visual aspect of the technique.
   Write the name ofthe project one-third to one-halfway down the middle ofthe
page. Circle it. Then write without interruption anything that comes to mind about
the topic and circle each entry. Circling the words is important because this helps to
turn the verbal word into a pictorial symbol which deceives the language-oriented
mind. Soon you have a pictorial scribble of many disconnected and connected
ideas allover the page, somewhat as shown in Figure 4-1.
   One engineer I have observed using this technique starts every project by
unrolling several feet of drawing paper and clustering ideas, unrolling more paper
as he needs it, until he has this very large, freeform mass ofmaterial to start with.
   After you have exhausted on paper every possible aspect and detail connected to
the project, you stop. Preferably take a break and sleep on this. One of the mind's
tricks is to grow more ideas overnight ifthe seedhas been planted the day before. Ideas
seem to need time to germinate in the dark before they can surface in the morning.
When this happens, immediately add a few more feet of ideas to the drawing
paper roll.
   Finish all ofthe writing beforeyou edit. After the ideas are all down, you can then
engage the left-side organizer and critic to analyze and select the useful from the
useless, and you move on to the next part ofthe writing process.

With these techniques you activate the mind, dispelling the mental inertia and
                                   CHAPTER 4: The Writing Process in Engineering      49

Figure 4-1      A CLUSTER DIAGRAM

avoiding the anguish ofa cold start. And the letter, proposal, or report is happening
before you have time to realize that you have actually started putting the report
together. By giving the mind utter freedom, especially on a large, unstructured
piece ofpaper, the right brain can come up with many more ideas than it would if
the left brain was assessing each idea one at a time. The critical side ofthe brain has
been trained in your years of schooling and tends to dominate the mind with
pushy sarcasm that usually overrides the creative, intuitive function.
   For instance, ifthe first idea you conceive is trash, and you let the left brain reject
the idea right off, you will tear the sheet ofpaper offthe pad and chuck it dramati-
cally in the recycling box. Then you may start to choke up and the next idea might
be equally unsatisfactory, so again you lob those results at the basket. Pretty soon
you need a break (to empty the basket), and then you go home early because you
tell yourselfyou can't get started. You get home and mow the lawn, buy some milk,
or relax with a little music - procrastinating in all those ingenious ways the mind
will devise - and the next day you still haven't started on the report.
   To avoid this, you must let the ideas come without imposing any impatient
judgements. The first "stupid" idea may nudge another "stupid" idea, which may
then nudge a really brilliant idea and another brilliant idea and then maybe two
more duds. But when you finish you can grab the brilliant ideas out ofthe crowd of
useless ones and prepare a brilliant report!
50     PART I: General Principles of Writing and Communicating in Engineering

  Start writing as soon as the job is assigned to you. Many ideas flash through your
mind about a project when you first receive the assignment. When this happens,
you should immediately take a large piece of blank paper, and:
•    Write the name of the project in very large letters.
•    Write down the location, and what your contribution will be.
•    Write down your deadlines.
•    Scribble quickly every fleeting idea that comes to you about the job.
When you start the job in earnest, you will already have a writing start on it (a page
with ideas) and you will not bog down into procrastinating.

Other Sources of Content
Obviously the self-generating sources of information aren't always enough. How
do you find other sources ofcontent?
1.   Review previous jobs.
2.   Visit the site and ask questions.
3.   Read the trade literature.
4.   Research library sources.
5.   Ask a specialist.

This is a process much like that ofthe lawyer looking for a precedent. How did the
professionals do similar jobs before? Go through your company files as well as your
own personal files.
   However, you must use such "cribbing" with caution, as each job has its own
peculiarities, ones that no other previous job will have had. Trying to stuff a new
problem into an old solution is like putting new wine in an old wineskin. These
former solutions should only be used as a starting-point, a departure on the road to
a solution - never more than that.

So many factors can be noted that might have a bearing on the solution that you
cannot afford to miss a site visit. Straight, theoretical "book engineering" is limited.
Times change and different factors become more important at different times,
making every job an original and unique problem.
   For instance, the strength of a bridge calculated 10 years ago may still appear on
paper to be adequate for the demands, but a site visit wOldd show that a clearcut
deforestation in the last year could now expose the bridge to heavy washouts in
flood season. How much damage your design might do to the environment can
only be assessed by visiting the site, doing studies, and investigating the history of
the site. Unfortunately, complacent (or lazy) engineers often bypass the site visit.
Some engineers simply feel uncomfortable making a site visit, but doing so on
every job will make the practice more familiar, and certainly the results will prove
                                 CHAPTER 4: The Writing Process in Engineering   51

   Make notes on these site visits, about everything. Many observations may seem
irrelevant at the time, but later these notes will be invaluable as you work out the
details ofthe design. Ask questions ofthe people on these site visits. Those who use
or will be using the facilities know what isn't working (more than an engineer or an
architect), and they will be glad to have some input into any changes to be made.
   A mechanical engineer was once brought in to resolve a heat loss problem in a
large, new facility. Ordinarily there are the usual recommendations: wrap
the ducts with insulation, install a larger heating plant, etc.
   When the engineer inspected the site, he checked the heat source and found no
problem. Then with his bare hand he checked the outlets and felt warm air near a
cold-air duct. He climbed into one of the ducts and discovered that a large heat
vent had been joined directly to an air intake duct. In retrospect this does not
sound like great ingenuity, but he could only have found the problem on a careful
visit of the site.

Keep up on the latest techniques, the newest equipment, and the product litera-
ture. Attend the appropriate conferences to talk to others about the latest applica-
tions of different materials. Take notes on who can provide you with this new infor-
mation ifyou need it.
   Phone or write to a company that makes products for the type ofwork you are to
be involved in. They will have specialists on their staff.
   (See Chapter 8's discussion ofletters ofinquiry or request.)

Getting content through research is a natural procedure. We automatically go to
the library when we need information. One can spend a great deal of time in
libraries, but often we don't have the luxury of such long periods of time. Try to
focus as much as possible on what you need to know. Write questions on the sub-
ject, as many as you possibly can. Veto the irrelevant questions. Finding answers to
the remaining questions is your starting-point. Once in the library look up the sub-
ject in the cardex or computer access system.

On-Line Systems and Databases
Most libraries now have on-line computerized literature search capabilities using
systems that work in a manner similar to that of the manual search procedures.
These on-line systems may cost a lot of money to use; but they will save you hours
  Many databases are available in technology and engineering, among them:
•   COMPENDIX (engineering)
•   AOSI (oil sands industry)
•   NRCPUBS (National Research Council Publications)
•   ENERGYLINE (environment-related research)
52    PART I: General Principles of Writing and Communicating in Engineering

If you don't find what you want, ask the librarian for help. Librarians are profes-
sionals at finding things.

Go to a specialist in the b~iness world, a manufacturer, or a scholar in a universi-
ty. An amazing number ofpeople are closeted in small offices and labs in every uni-
versity working into the deep innards of problems that may be identical to
your own. They have probably done all your research already and can give you
many answers.
    Or take a colleague for lunch and discuss.

Organizing the Material
You organize your material to clarifY the purpose ofthe writing. Selecting the suit-
able format and the clearest sequence of information is important for the reader.
Every piece ofwriting has4ree sections: the opening, the middle, and the closing.
Figure 4-2 illustrates each otthese as they appear in the "Sample Recommendation
Report" ofAppendix B.
• Opening statements The opening of the document should answer the ques-
  tion, "Why is the reader receiving this document?" For example, ifyou are
  writing a letter of interest on a project you have read about, introduce yourself,
  and explain what project you are writing about.
• Middle material The middle ofthe document should be the supportive
  argument, or the supportive information or technical findings. For example,
  the report given in Appendix B on the desalination study provides all the
  information the water board would need to make an informed assessment of
  the viability of the installation and choose the recommendation offered or
  reject it.
• Closing statements The closing should provide conclusive statements that
  directly relate to the purpose or the objective ofyour opening with the bot-
  tom-line request, the bottom-line advice, the bottom-line expense, or the
  results ofyour investigation with your recommendation. Often you will
  include an offer to do other, specific work - not just "Please call ifwe can be
  offurther assistance," but a response to specific needs the project has exposed
  that you can provide.
   In some instances - in complaint letters, sales situations, proposals, or letters of
interest - the closing statements will make a direct appeal for action. Also, there are
times when a gracious mention of your appreciation for receiving the work is
   Once you have your clustered material, your lists, your library research, your,
design, and your investigations, print the objective in huge letters and prop it up in I
                                 CHAPTER 4: The Writing Process in Engineering   53


                                                              ....-- Opening

                                                              ....-- material

                                                              ....-- Closing

front ofyou. Then layout all your material into these three broad sections:
1. Preliminary material and opening material
2. Middle, supportive material
3. Closing statements and appendices, tables, charts, and maps

If the project does not fit the recommended letter or report format heading con-
ventions, use an appropriate selection of headings from the general format guide-
lines in the letter and report format section of this text (see Chapter 8).

Once you have outlined the format headings, number the paragraphs and sen-
tences ofall the material you have collected using a coloured felt pen to mark each
piece. Sort and sift and group the material into the different sections (under the
headings you have higWighted). This is often a physical, cut-and-paste exercise.

Computer Outline Features
Many computer word processing programs have an Outline feature into which you
put your headings and then fill in the sections. The advantage of using such out-
lining features is the ease with which you can move the blocks of information.
54     PART I: General Principles of Writing and Communicating in Engineering

Writing the First Draft
In this rough condition, key all the pieces of information into the computer (or
type out) and print out (or write tidily) a clean hard copy so that you can see the
whole thing as a unit. Once the paragraphs are typed, you can be more objective
about the content.

Then with the purpose and objective clearly defined, spread the pages out around
you and, using a coloured felt pen, reorganize the material. In the typed version the
material that is off the topic, and the material that is repetitious, will be more

Insert the graphics and charts and maps and tables of information where they will
help the most.

At the draft and revision stage, try to keep in mind who your reader is. What do the
readers need to know? What is their previous knowledge on the subject? In a
proposal the client who will buy your services is your reader; in a concept report, the
architect, other engineers, or the government project manager will be your reader;
in a specification document, the contractors will be your readers; in a report, govern-
ment officials, senior executives, and other engineers will be your readers.
   Who the readers are will determine how technical your writing will be - how
much information will be necessary and what tone will be suitable. This is a good
time to make another list ofquestions from readers' point ofview:
•    How much do they know already?
•    Have you had any meetings with the readers to discuss the subject?
•    Have you worked with these people before?
•    What particular emphasis will be expected?
•    What will they expect to find out from you?
•    Do some research on your readers. Ask others.
Later, go back over this list and ascertain ifyou have provided all the answers they
would expect to find.

Also Consider Other Readers
In this age of the photocopier, when copies are readily disseminated to everyone
involved, you have to be aware that your words may be read and handed on to
many people you never anticipated would read them.
  Specialist consultant A was once hired by engineer B, and the two of them were
required to attend a meeting with the client's managers. A drew up a rough agenda
ofpoints that she thought she should be prepared to answer in the meeting. B took
                                  CHAPTER 4: The Writing Process in Engineering     55

a look at the list. At the meeting, B opened the meeting and invited A to take over
the meeting, since the subject was in Xs field.
   "Did you bring the agenda?" B asked A.
   "Only my own and the one you have."
   "We have a copier in the next room," a client manager offered, and immediately
ran offcopies of Xs rough list for everyone at the meeting.
   As it turned out, this "agenda" was extremely useful, and it became the basis of
the project design. But A had never intended the list to be used as a final statement.

The first draft is just a collection and organization ofthe information. Many writ-
ers think their job is done once they have written it all out in some order, but this is
only the start ofthe process. Revision is the part of the process that turns the words
into a well-crafted communication.

   As in every part of the writing, the mind balks - just as the body balks at that
early-morning run - because you have to harness two thinking processes, a tandem
effort of both left- and right-brain activity to tlSsess the value of the content and
create better content.
   If you have access to a computer, use it to revise your material. Revising on a
computer becomes more of a game, so you are more apt to make the effort to get
the words right and turn out a better product.

Revision for Content
Despite what has been said earlier, you may initially write from your own point of
view, just putting down all the information you can generate on what you think is
needed; but always revisefrom the reader'spoint ofview.
   As you read through the first draft, you will naturally correct spelling and sen-
tence structure as you notice those problems, but at this stage focus on the content.
Does it fulfill the purpose the reader has in reading the report or letter? Does the
content meet the objective ofthe report? (Go back over the reader focus list in the
draft stage.)
   Focussing on the content after finishing the first full draft is very important,
because you have to be in a fully fluid condition, ready to discard halfthe material,
40 of80 pages, ifnecessary. Ifyou have focussed too soon on the mechanics and on
the elegance ofform and the perfect ~ord, later when you notice you are off on a
tangent you will be loathe to change any ofyour wonderful writing! Unfortunate-
ly, many wtiters refuse to change the letter or report at this stage, because they see
56    PART I: General Principles of Writing and Communicating in Engineering


nothing wrong with the product they have written; in fact they are very proud of
the writing. And often they should be, if the words are indeed well put together.
But ifthe work does not meet the purpose of the assignment, it is a failure.
   Most writers are very sensitive to criticism about their writing, since the written
w~rd comes from deep within our mental space that is protected with solid bone,
and criticism ofthose words is an invasion of the personality itsel£ But the content
must take priority over the ego.
   In revising for content, read through the first draft fairly quickly to get an
overview ofthe shape ofthe work. Ifthere is any doubt, rewrite thepurpose/objective
ofthe writing again - perhaps three times - and then read the report quickly again.
Now rewriting the purpose (objective) of the writing may sound like a foolish
waste oftime, and why am I making such a point ofit? Answer: Because people do
not read assignments carefully; they do not fully understand what the client needs
and consequendy they may do a beautiful job but it is not what the client needs
(especially computer program projects).

   How many times have you written an exam and didn't answer the question
properly? How many times have you gone to the doctor and he or she prescribed
some medication for you before you even finished describing your problem?
   How many times have I given engineering students assignments and they have
missed the point? Answer: Atleast 50% ofthe time, and often 18 out of20 will stray
somewhere along the line even if they had the right idea at the beginning. (After
this had happened a few times I began to take great care in wording the assignments,
                                   CHAPTER 4: The Writing Process in Engineering   57


rewriting them over and over until I was convinced there could be no ambiguity.
But the problem has never stopped!)
   If you are in doubt about the project, ask the instructor (or phone the client).
Once you are satisfied that you are on target, readyour draft again with these ques-
tions in mind:
•   Is there a logical sequence to the placement ofthe different sections?
•   Should the glossary go at the beginning or the end? (See Chapter 12.)
•   Have you provided enough information?
•   Is the tone consistent and professional? Are there any "witty" asides that
    detract from the professional tone?
• Is the background particularly important to the understanding of the
  problem and does it need a section separate from the discussion section?
• Are the alternatives overwhelming the recommended choice you have made?
• Are the recommendations you made consistent with the discussion and
  conclusions your data present? Should you change your recommendations
  or do further investigation beforeyou write any more o/the report?
• Should the company profile go in the report or in the appendix?
•. Are the resumes too long?
• Will the reader have to phone you to find out what the whole thing is all

Revision for Grammar Etc.
When you have satisfied yourself that the content is indeed what the client or
reader needs to know, then you revise for grammar, which is editing. Editing is a
58    PART I: General Principles of Writing and Communicating in Engineering

left-brain, critical process that is also reader-oriented. Objectively study every word
to see if it is the most accurate one for the meaning you need, and study every
sentence to see ifthe words make sense.

• Have you used too many words to state the obvious?
• Have you repeated any information?
• Have you inflated the "formal" effect for a big report?
With regard to this last point, there is an uncontrollable and unconscious urge to
sound "grand," that is, leap into archaic jargon, when writing any formal assign-
ment, especially when you are getting paid many dollars for a large project. Even in
a short letter there is a tendency to trot outthe archaic terminology. Look at the letter
in Figure 4-3. How would you improve it? See the improved version in Figure 4-4.
   Run every document through spell check. However, do not rely too much on
this, as the computer will not pick up misused words, such as then for than and
effect for affect. It is also a good idea to have someone else read your final draft for
inconsistencies and spelling and punctuation errors; one seldom sees these prob-
lems in one's own writing.
   When you must proof your own writing, take a piece of paper and lay it below
the line you are reading and do not move the paper down until you have read the
last word in the line. This will force you to look at every word, comma, and period.

It is important in this connection to avoid the Friday Trap, which ariseswhen you
were expected to have a report out on, say, Wednesday, but on Friday several
people are still putting the document together. The result is often that no one sits
down and reads the whole document before the courier races off to deliver it at
4 p.m. on Friday. Sure enough, on Tuesday morning you get a call about some
embarrassing errors in the document.
   In a case like this, wait until Monday to send it out. Who is going to read it on
Saturday or Sunday anyway? Save yourself some serious anguish and take the time
to read the finished report over carefully.
   For more on editing, review Chapter 2, and see the punctuation conventions
outlined in Appendix A.

Keep Notes
As you read and investigate you must keep notes and identify the source ofthe infor-
mation that you read. Ifyou use anyone's ideas from books, journals, magazines, or
other sources in your report or paper, you must identify them in the text of your
writing - at the end ofa sentence, quote, or paragraph - and then on a page at the
end ofthe article or report tell us where they can be found.
                                   CHAPTER 4: The Writing Process in Engineering     59

The purpose of documenting sources is to give the originator credit for his or her
ideas and material, and not to mislead the reader into thinking the ideas are your
own discovery. Documentation also provides the readers with the information
needed to find out more about the subject (or verifY your information).

Documentation Styles
There are several style guides describing the proper formats for documenting your
sources. Style guides explain how you tag your information in your document and
how you prepare the list ofsources at the end, which may be called "Bibliography,"
"References," "Works Cited," "Sources Cited," or "Literature Cited."
  The most frequently used style guides are the Chicago Manual ofStyle, the style
guide of the APA (American Psychological Association), and the MIA (Modern
LanguageAssociation) Handbook.
• The APA style is used most commonly in the social sciences.
• The Chicago Style type A is used by some writers in the humanities; Chicago
  Style type B is preferred by technical writers.
• The MLA style type A, is also used chiefly in the humanities; type B, the
  "author-date system," is used in social sciences and some sciences; type C, the
  number system, is used in many sciences.
The differences between the different styles are subtle. For instance, Chicago's style B
has the date of publication after the author's name, and the MLA's style A has the
date at the end.
• MLA, type A Downing, Douglas. Calculus the Easy way. Woodbury,
  New York: Barron's Educational Series, 1982.
•   Chicago, type B Downing, Douglas. 1982. Calculus the Easy way.
    Woodbury, New York: Barron Educational Series Inc.
The MIA Handbook styles are perhaps the most popular at this time.

Generally, MLA's type A is used for English essays. Here you put the name of the
author and the page number at the end of the sentence, paragraph, or quote you
are citing, like this: (Trefi169). At the end ofthe paper or report, you add a "Works
Cited" page that lists all the sources alphabetically by the author's last name. In this
way, the reader can trace every source you mention in the text ofyour writing. See
Figure 4-5.
60     PART I: General Principles of Writing and Communicating in Engineering

Figure 4-5       MLA TYPE A CITATION

This is the "author-date" system. It is used in the social sciences, and in some other
sciences, and is similar to the APA style. In the text, you would insert a reference as
     Only time will tell whether the sum total of improvements in the latest version of
     DOS (DOS 5.0) will be sufficient to spur a user stampede. (Steinhart 1991, 34)
This quote would then be listed alphabetically in the "Works Cited" list at the back
of the paper or report, including the date of publication immediately after the
author's name. See Figure 4-6.


This style is common in the "hard" sciences - physics, engineering, etc. Type C is
the number system. In the list ofworks cited, each source (book, magazine, journal,
or program) is assigned a number and these sources are listed numerically instead of
alphabetically. Usually the sources are listed in the order in which they are cited in
the text of the writing. In parentheses in the text of your writing, underline the
number given the source in the "Works Cited" section then, the page reference. For
     Workers can wear tiny portable computers in hard-hats (J, 6).
Here, ,2 is the number ofthe citation in the bibliography and 6 is the page number.
  Ifyou mention the author's name within the text, you do not include the name
again at the end of the sentence in the parentheses, For instance:
     Ron Glen says UNIX appears to be an operating system that thrives in troubled
     waters (J, 32).
                                 CHAPTER 4: The Writing Process in Engineering    61

Ifyou refer to the whole journal or book, omit the page numbers. For example:
   Television Engineering deals with the Beam Detection Feedback Systems in the
   Grade I monitors (1).

In the "Works Cited" at the end ofyour document, precede each entry by its num-
ber and list the entries numerically. See Figure 4-7.

Figure 4-7     MLA TYPE C CITATION

1. Look around the room in which you are sitting. List all the components
   needed in that room to do what needs to be done there (office, classroom,
   bedroom, dining room, hall).
2. Your friend has moved to town and needs a stereo and TV: List all the
   components that will be needed to make up a modest system. Include all the
   power sources, plugs, connectors, ground wires, shelving, etc.
62     PART I: General Principles of Writing and Communicating in Engineering

3. a. Cluster everything you can about owning a dog, a car, or a computer.
     b. Cluster for ideas defining environmental responsibility or pollution.
        Select a significant part ofthese dusters Ca. or b.), organiz~ the material
        into a logical order, and write a paragraph on the subject.
4. Look at the lists of components you made for questions 1 and 2.
     a. Group the room components into some organized form, such as those
        items necessary to the function of the room, those items for comfort, and
        those items for decorative value. Ifthe room has more than one use,
        organize the information according to the primary purpose ofthe room
        and additional uses for the room, and list the items that are there for
        no purpose at all.
   b. Write out a draft of these features.
5. Organize the information gathered for the stereo-TV centre.
   a. What headings will you need for the information? Will you group it
      according to those that cost the most? Those that will be needed in the first
      phase, the second phase, etc.? Those items that can be installed by an elec-
      tronic incompetent and those that will need some expertise?
   b. Write a dr4i using some organized form with headings.
6. You are a city official and you are sendinga memo to the person in charge of
   one of the following installations:
     a. Road signs or yield signs currently on your regular route
     b. Telephone or power poles
     c. Business or advertising signs that overhang the street or create a health
        hazard or offend you esthetically,
     Describe the problems that may arise with any ofthese installations. On page 1,
     generate content; on page 2, clarifY your objective and organize and draft the
     memo; on page 3, revise for content (What does the reader need to know?)
     and revise for grammar; on page 4, write your final draft.
? You have asked the junior engineer to write a memo to the finance department
  to get approval to install an additional11? V power line to your offices. The
  following text is the first part ofthe memo he drafted for your approval.
     a. Revise it for content. What does the finance officer need to know?
     b. Revise for grammar.
     Subject Addition of 117 V Power Line on 2nd Floor
     When the second floor's office area was built it was designed to be capable of
     handling a normal offices electrical load. The regular list of electricity using
     machines were involved when deciding the electricity capacity need for the room,
     photocopier, electronic word processors for the secretaries, coffeemaker,
     facsimile machine, phones, and intercom were all included in the desicion-making
     process. However, the electrical system was never designed to handle a multi-
     electricity using machine on every desk on the second floor. This, of course, refers
                                   CHAPTER 4: The Writing Process in Engineering        63

  to the computer that I believe almost everyone has on their desk now. Therefore,
  the installation of I 17 V power line is not a question of whether or not it is
  needed but of how and where should it be added to the second floor.
    We have three installation options:
   I. Run a line through the suspended ceilings using down pole outlets
      Esthetic: Downpoles would be the least nice looking oRtion. They break up the
  natural lines of a room and can become an inconvenience if placement is limited
  buy the ceilings conduits.
      Practicality: The ceiling is easily accessible and the installation of downpoles are
  relatively easy. The entire installation could be done while office work is going on
  because most of the work will be above the peoples heads and away from the
  easily distracted eyes.
      Cost This option will be the most cost-effective because very little finishing
  needs to be done. Only the downpoles colour and its small carpet damage needs
  to be worried about.
  2. Put the line through the walls
      Esthetic: Wall outlets would be the most esthetically pleasing, because no exteri-
  or damage is done it is all unseen by the eye.
      Practicality: The placement of wires through the walls is a little more difficult but
  can be done. If there are large floor spaces on the second floor that are only
  sectioned by moveable partitions, than unsightly extension cords might have to be
  used. Work may be interrupted.
      Cost Using wall outlets would cost the most in finishing costs and loss of work
  costs, than the other option.
   3. Running a flat wire under the carpet which will ruin the carpeting
    I believe the choice must be made that will satisfy all the criteria, the workers
  happiness and the people paying the bills.
    Please contact me if and when more information is needed about any of the
  options. But I believe there is enough information to make an informed decision.
8. Choose a name from the following list, research all the sources of information
   on that person in libraries, taking notes on every source you look up, and write
   a profile on the person and their contribution to their field ofexpertise.
   End with a comment on the impact their achievements have made on future
  • Elmer Ambrose Sperry                     • Vladimir Zworykin
  • Caroline Herschel                        • Sir Robert A. Watson-Watt
  • Lord Thomas Telford                      • Marie Curie
  • Sir Frank Whittle                        • Buckminster Fuller
  • Peter Cooper                             • Wernher von Braun
  • John A. Roebling                         • Rudolf Diesel
  • Alexander De Seversky                    • James Prescott Joule
  • Marie Goeppert                           • IdaE.J. Noddack
  • Sir Humphry Davy                         • Girolamo Cardano
  • Henry Blair                              • William David Coolidge
                    The Visual Element

Good layout of a document - letter, report, or memo - creates an overall
favourable impression. If the graphic sags to the bottom of the document, if there
is too much type too closely spaced, ifthe print is too small or too large, or if there
is any other poor-taste layout feature, readers will be irritated by the work before
they even read it. Continually keep in mind the most pleasing presentation ofany
written communication.
    "White space" is an important layout feature. When you look at a draft or proof
ofyour work, ask yourself, "Is the white space adequate for easy access to the infor-
mation?" Too much white space is also irritating.
   The layout considerations and appearance of letters discussed in Chapter 7 also
apply to reports and graphics.

Use the chart, the drawing, the map, the photograph, the table, and the graph to
say the equivalent ofa few hundred words. With the graphics programs nowavail-
able on computers, your reports can take advantage of the improved visual repre-
sentation, but you should make sure the information thus presented is improved or
clarified when using any visual aid.
• Don't go to excess on the fancy computer graphics.
• The graph or chart should be easy to scan as a highlight ofthe important
  material in the report.
• Keep the graphics as close to the related text as possible. Put them in an
  appendix only ifthey seriously interfere with the flow of the text.

The most accessible form for extensive numerical information containing many
comparisons is often the simple table. An example is given in Figure 5-1. The infor-
mation can be on different scales and can accommodate extremes ofscale.
  In engineering, tables are titled at the top; graphs and charts are titled

                                               CHAPTER 5: The Visual Element    65

Figure 5-1    EXAMPLE OF A TABLE

                    Saltspring Substation Loads (Normalized)
                       Actual Peak       Normalized Peak Effect of
          Substation '87/88(MW)           '87/88(MW)     Normalizing
          Meredith       161.6              170.7           5.6%
          Caldwell        59.3               63.6           7.3%
          Midland        114.0              120.0 (Adj.)    5.3%
          Chicksaw        20.2               21.5           6.4%
          Goat Island     44.9               46.9           4.5%
          Roland Inlet    58.8               63.7           8.3%
          TOTAL         458.8MW             486.4MW

Engineers use drawings almost as often as architects, and most engineers are profi-
cient at drawing and drafting. Label the drawing carefully, numbering the parts in
logical order.

        ~           ::~ing


  Engineers use the "cutaway" or the "exploded" view ofa mechanism or part of a
machine to indicate how the parts fit together, and to show parts that may be hid-
den in a standard drawing. Often, such drawings are used to illustrate a process.
66      PART I: General Principles of Writing and Communicating in Engineering

Line Graphs
Most engineers are proficient at line graphs and computer graphing. However,
there are a few points to check before sending out a graph in a report:
• Does the graph help clarify the information?
• Is the graph accurate?
• Have you labelled the graph clearly?
• Have you given the graph a title and labelled the horizontal and vertical axes
• Are the lines sufficiently varied in texture or colour to prevent confusion?
• Have you too many lines on the graph? (Five is the limit.)
• Have you titled the graphs and charts (underneath)?
     See Figure 5-2 for an example of a line graph.

Figure 5-2        EXAMPLE OF A LINE GRAPH

                   200      Chic~----'o------'---
          PEAKS 180
                            Meredith    - --____
                              86/87     87/88      88/89   89/90    90/91

                                      SUBSTATIONS' GROWTH RATE

Boxes and Sidebars
Use the boxedsidebar for any information that you want to stand out or that rein-
forces the main text. Or use it to include relevant information that is awkward to
incorporate into the main material.
   This book uses boxed sidebars, ofwhich an example is given here.
                                                  CHAPTER 5: The Visual Element   67

Use a pie or Circle chart when you want to present general numbers, usually per-
centages. To translate the numbers into degrees ofthe pie, multiply the number by
360 and divide by the number representing the whole.
  For instance: The normal loading of the Goat Island Substation is 6535 kvA
and the total loading of all the substations is 68,400 kvA. Therefore 6535
    6535                0
  68,400 X 100 = 9.7Yo
of the total load, or, converting directly into degrees:
     6535                 0
  68,400 X 360 = 34.4

  Be sure to label the segments clearly. See Figure 5-3.


               Roland Inlet (13.1%)

                                                              Meredith (35.1 %)
        Goat Island (9.6%)

        Chickson (4.4%)

                                                       Caldwell (13.1%)

                          SUBSTATION LOAD GROWTH 1991

There are simple, multiple, segmented, floating, and sliding bar charts.
  Start the scale of the graph at 0 to avoid distorting the information. Distortion
would occur, for example, ifyou made a graph of the sales growth ofa hydro com-
pany with a baseline of300 GZh. The difference in the readings between the con-
sumer sales and the industrial sales would look unrealistically much greater than if
the graph started at 0 GZh.
68    PART I: General Principles of Writing and Communicating in Engineering

  Here are some guidelines for bar charts:
• Make bars the same width.
• Make the spaces between the bars one-third to one-half the width of the bar.
• Ensure that values on the same axis are similar. You can't have both positive
  and negative information projected on the same graph (except a standard
  deviation chart).
• Ensure that the relationships of the values are accurate.
In the double chart shown in Figure 5-4, the stepped scale hampers a realistic inter-
pretation ofthefigures.


                                     PROGRESS IN BUSINESS RESULTS
                                     (MILLIONS OF $)

                                        Ordinary profit

            26.566                         225

  The sliding bar chart is used extensively in project management to indicate
when the various phases of a project will commence and be completed. (See Figure
5-12 later in this chapter.)

Flowcharts are used to explain processes. Chapter 1 showed two examples. Figure 5-5
shows another variety of flowchart.
                                               CHAPTER 5: The Visual Element           69

                   SMELTING SILICON

                                      Brown amorphous powder

                                  Grey semiconducting crystals

Schematic drawings show electrical and computer circuits. See Figure 5-6.



                                                  ........             -<>+«Xl1IDC
                                                                           2l5O IlIA

                                   L-                ......-"rY"f""-.--<>+300   VOC
                                                                           2l5O IlIA

70    PART I: General Principles of Writing and Communicating in Engineering

The organization chart is a necessity in larger companies, for charting the hierarchy
or chain ofcommand ofan organization. See Figure 5-7.


                             WEST KOOTENAY POWER
                                Executive Functions

                                    President &: C.E.O.

                                    J. A. DRENNAN*

    Secretary to                                                            Corporate
 President &: C.E.O.                                                       Secretary&:
  L. D. DOUGLAS                                                              Solicitor
                                Senior Vice President,


                                                                         Sec. to Corp. Sec.
                      Internal                                               &:Solicitor
                      Auditor                                             S. A. MAKEIFF
                D. A. CIVITARESE                          Executive
                                                 f-       Assistant
                                                       L. J. GILBERT

                        Secretary to                                        Land Agent
                        Sr. v.P., Ops.     e--
                       E.MATOVICH                                        D. J. BACHYNSKI

        I                       I                            I                     I
   Manager,                 Manager,                      Manager,         Vice President,
Human Resources          Transmission &:              Systems Planning        Finance
                          Distribution                 and Operation
 R. M. FOWLER              A.J.DUBE                      J.B.LOO             S. A. ASH*

*Officers ofthe company

Pictorial charts consist ofa simplified drawing and labels that identify the elements
of the thing depicted. Since some pictorial ideas tend to become somewhat
frivolous in tone, one must ensure that the pictorial choices are suitable to the
professionalism of the report. Also, keep the information in a pictorial chart in
proper relative proportion. See Figure 5-8.
                                                                                      CHAPTER 5: The Visual Element              71



                                              23% windows and doors

                     ..........-       27%walls

                            1!" " " ,·" , ','I!:!I I! ! !I I!I !I! ;i!;I,;1'!I ~ I'!'I!'! ! :I:~·:!I'!I I'I'I" 'I '! "'lili!1I
Engineers use maps extensively, for obvious reasons. If the map is larger than a
normal page, it should be twice as wide and folded in half twice, as shown in
Figure 5-9.

Figure 5-9     HOW TO FOLD A MAP




Laser reproductions of photographs can be blown up to any size that best suits the
needs of the report.

Block diagrams are line drawings that show equipment as blocks, and the connec-
tions as single lines. They are used in electrical and computer engineering to explain
power, lighting, fire alarm, security, and computer systems. See Figure 5-10.
72   PART I: General Principles of Writing and Communicating in Engineering

~                         .AMfUElEB
                            r--I--f-~-+I                                    -{ }~                    rF=,1             r,:=,l
                                                                                                              """"" .....DRS


                                                                                            )             J                  i
                                                                                            }                             J

                                     f-< > I                                                                                   '0.''''''''''''
                                     t--+-T~;::::=======::;tr-----l                                   _____J                         r--1
                                                                                                                  ~m~ (WUl.1ISCAH) L __.J
                                                                                                     r----'J =r         OR             ,.""",,,
                                                                             r---""j                 '-           ~)

                            -                                 !   r-1-I---+:-{.,-l--: ~~ ="UlER
                                                                             I        I

                                                              I              L~__ J =:~
                            !flEWOTEI1.   COtI).   22 A'IIG   I
                            L J     SIIElD
                                              CAIU            I

Riser drawinf! are line drawings showing main interconnections similarly to block
drawings, except that symbols instead of blocks are used to depict the various
devices. See Figure 5-11.


                                                                                          L=!.o ~n ~n !!J


                  E9      H.T.$.
                          NOTE:    nPICAl. otm.£1S ONLY SHOWN. 00 HCJ1' USE       fOR CABLE COUNT

Time Schedules
 Time scheduling is an important part of engineering. When a project reaches the
construction phase the timing of the different phases of the work must fit together
like the most intricate mosaic.
                                                  CHAPTER 5: The Visual Element      73

   The 50-storey World Plaza Building in New York took five years to build, with
the steel work still under way on the upper floors while the glaziers were installing
the windows at ground level. This required scheduling. by a genius.
   There are several different types oftime schedules.
   The project manager, usually an engineer, is in charge of all aspects ofan engi-
neering project: engineers, budgets, construction, invoicing, etc. He or she must
devise a schedule that will track the first phase ofthe job, the second phase, etc. The
time schedule - the written-out plan - would look like Figure 5-12. Such a sched-
ule is called a Gannt sliding-bar chart.
   The construction manager, usually an engineer also, at least on the bigger projects -
is in charge of all on-site construction activities: keeping the drawings, the con-
struction schedule, the tendering ofthe sub-trades (plasterers, painters, brick work-
ers, carpet layers, etc.), and the appointing and scheduling of the sub-trades, in
addition to overseeing his or her own construction workers. Such a schedule, also
called a sliding-bar chart, is laid out according to the sequence ofthe trade jobs on
the project. See Figure 5-13.
   There are many other types oftime schedules.The construction manager's time
schedule shown in Figure 5-13 is an example ofa fast-track schedule, in which there
is a limited time allowance. All the trades are overlapping.
   On smaller jobs, the scheduling may be more comprehensive, including all
aspects ofthe project; or it may be more specific as on a bridge construction.
   Expertise in time scheduling depends largely on:
•   Experience and knowledge
•   Knowledge ofall the possibilities for delay in the different phases ofthe trades
•   Knowledge ofthe suppliers and how reliable they are in meeting delivery dates
•   Knowledge ofthe climate ofthe unions involved
Success also depends on how much motivation and cooperation the project or con-
struction manager can generate when the schedule gets off track.

1. Draw a graph or chart ofthe federal government's gross expenditures in 1987
   from the following data:
    National defence, $1O,283M                     National Film Board, $70M
    Indian affairs, $2641M                         CBC (cultural), $855M
    Medical Research Council, $168M                Veterans affairs, $1586M
    National health and welfare, $27,660M
2. Draw at least two different charts or graphs to illustrate some aspect of the
   following information.
    Farming Facts:
      Average income for Canadian farm families in 1989, $42,400
       Income from farming, $9700
       Income from off-farm jobs and government aid, $32,700
Figure 5-12 A SLIDING-BAR CHART - PROJECT MANAGEMENT                                                                    ....

                                       MASTER SCHEDULE                             (REVISED JUNE 3,1991) MAY 27, 1991
                                       ACTION      MAY         JUNE       JULY   AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER NOVEMBER      ~
           TASK DESCRIPTION    NOTES     BY     I 6 1320273 10 I724 I 8 152229 5 1219262 9 16 2330 7 I421284 1\ 18 25
CONCEPT DESIGN/PROJECT BRIEF                                                                                            CD
ROBOTIC HEADS                                                                                                            "'tl
 PREPARE DOCUMENTS                                                                                                      ::::l

                                                          •                                                             ~
CAMERAS                                                                                                                 ~
 TEST SONY CAMERA                                                                                                       ::::l
                                                         III                                                             c..
 PREPARE DOCUMENTS                                                                                                      3
 TENDER                                                                                                                  ::::l
                                                               1-                                                        r'i"
 DELIVER                                                                          111I   ..                             ~       .
 PREPARE DOCUMENTS                                                                                                       CD
 TENDER                                                                                                                 :!.
 EVALUATE AND AWARD                                                   •










                                                   •• •
 CONSTRUCTION                                                            1111 1111 III


 AWARD                                                                                   J:
 CONSTRUCTION                                                     1111 1111
 INSTALL CONSOLES                                                                        ;:c
 PREPARE DOCUMENTS                                                                       :S
 TENDER                                                                                  '"
                                              ••   I         I,                          m
 DELIVERY                                                                                3
 INSTALLATION                                                                            ~

Figure 5-13       A SLIDING-BAR CHART -INFRASTRUCTURE                                                                                                              .....

                                           INFRASTRUCTURE SCHEDULE                                                                                                 ~
                                      l:'o Ill"          ..
                                <>.   .~   }   1    rJ   j-       JULY/94       AUGUST - SEPT. - ocroBER                                                           G'l
                JOB NO. 8496    ~     d~       I:   :S"(      I   lit ,"Iz t.q S lZ ,ql2J 2 I.q III. Z33C 1    l1U\OYl p~                     17h.llnv             ::s
  Demolition                                                      II                                             V" v                                              eL
  Concrete masonry coring                                           -         ••                                                              l'Mll-Jbl            \
  Tender control room                                                                                         11'..4" . 1-;,        "',,£                          :i'
  Evaluate and award                                              •      •                                         l(..~. Jo..,r.             ?w         -ill)'    -0'
  Structural and misc. steel                                              •         •                            v             v                                   m
  Concrete (support mounts)           •                                                                       !\AM·1n I f '                                        Q,
  Reinfordng steel                                                                                                v            0./'
  Rough carpentry                                                                                                  v           ./                                   ~
  Finished carpentry                                                                                                                                               a:
                                                                              -• •••
  Tender millwork                                                                                               V                  .,-                             ~
  Evaluate and award millwork
                                                                        •                                         K'J MG!.                                         ::s
                                                                  •  -                                                                                             ()
  Tender steel studs/drywall
                                      ••                           • -~ •                                       ~\A ~~" . .1-\ ~ ,
  Evaluate and award                                                ••                                           1<..8 l/II\~                                      3
  Steel studs and drywall                                                                                                                                           ::s
  Doors and frames                                                   -                                         k, " ",.\-1               ('
  Finish hardware                     •                                             -                                           ,/
                                                                  "• •
  Plaster                             •             •                                                                                                              ~
  Resilient floors/carpet                                                                                           v·         v                                    m
  Painting                                          •                   •               !III                        ....       ./
  Tender mechanical                                                     •                                           v'         ./'                                  ::s
  Evaluate and award                                          •••                                                                                                   CD
                                                                                                                 I'. t ~'"                                 .--
  Mechanical                                                                                                       ./              ."                              ~.
  Tender electrical                   • •• •                      11II                                        \'\,I!A.(Iri ..... {.,          ~   \--,
  Evaluate and award                                                                                              \(.4 M&
  Electrical                                                    •                                                ..".'         ,./
  Roofing                             • •••                                    l-                                "/"           ./
  Final cleaning                                                        •                        11II
  Install computer equip.
  I I I I I I I I I I II              •
                                              CHAPTER 5: The Visual Element   77

     Net cash income for grain and oilseeds farmers in 1981, $3.3 billion
      Percentage of income from government aid, 9%

     Net cash income for grain and oilseeds farmers in 1991, $1.7 billion
      Percentage of income from government aid, 85%

     Number of people in Canada employed in farming in 1946,1.2 million
     Number ofpeople in Canada employed in farming in 1990,428,000
     Number ofself-employed women in farming in 1976, 9000
     Number ofself-employed women in farming in 1990, 46,000
3. Draw a graph of the results ofa company survey on changing the workweek to
   flexible hours.
      Expect productivity to increase, 36%
      Expect improved worker morale, 75%
      Expect the workers to shirk on their hours without full supervision, 56%
      Expect to have more supervisory problems, 50%
      Expect productivity to increase, 82%
      Expect improved worker morale, 89%
      Expect the workers to honour their hours, 64%
      Expect to have fewer supervisory problems, 53%
4. Do a time schedule for the rest ofyour term using a floating or sliding bar
   graph to allocate the time needed for each course. Include your exam schedule
   and assignment deadlines.
Specific Communication
  Tasks of Engineers
          Opening a File: Professional

Like other professionals in law or medicine, engineers must follow certain writing
procedures when given a project to do.

Whenever starting a new project or job, you must open ajilefor the project. Even if
the company you work for keeps a file for billing and information purposes, an
engineer should keep a personal file on the job that can be taken to meetings and
kept as a record ofone's own contribution to the project.
  The file should include a personal project log. Print the name of the client, the
name of the study, structure, or project, and the project number on a file folder.
Open the folder and two-hole-punch the top of both sides ofthe open file, insert-
ing a two-hole clip in both sides. On the left, place a sheet of paper, divided into
columns, for recording all communications - written, telephoned, or received in
person - that you have with the client and with others working on the project.
   It is very important that you record the date ofevery communication. Then when
you go to a meeting, you can be very definite about whom you spoke to and on
precisely what day. See Figure 6-1.
   On the right, you clip all your correspondence -letters, memos, telephone slips,
work orders, publications used, and copies of a11 progress reports, field reports, pro-
ject briefs, etc. Ifyou are working on your own or have the billing responsibility as
well, on the front cover you will place a sheet indicating the date that a bill has been
sent and when and how much ofthe bill has been paid.
   These logs are invaluable:
• For future jobs, both for cost and for time-estimating
• For reference ifthere are anyproblems and disputes - you will have specific
  dates and figures to present if necessary

82    PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

• For future projects You will have a record ofthe addresses and names of the
  different companies and contacts you made in the course ofthe project in case
  you need to reach these people again. Later, on a different project in a different
  city, you might easily forget the name of a person you worked closely with for
  four months only the year before.

            Letters and Memos: Styles
                           and Elements

The format- the overall artistic presentation - of a proposal, letter, memo, study,
or report is important because it is the first thing a reader (client) sees.
   Formatting is what makes your writing look professional. A professional look
rests on two qualities:
1. The artistic quality ofthe layout or the suitability and style of the format
2. The absence of typos, spelling mistakes, etc.
   Letters with typos and spelling errors, jumbled formats, and grammar errors pre-
sent you as a careless, sloppy person with bad habits - not a professional image.
The message the reader gets is "I am an incompetent with a calculator, and a pen
that leaks into my pocket, and I'm telling you that I can be a good engineer even if
this report (letter) looks like I'm sloppy." What are you selling as an engineer? You
are selling the idea that you are someone who can solve the client's problems, and
do it better than the average marsupial.

  If you are well acquainted with the standard formats, your letters will present
you as a clear-eyed, logical, intelligent, aware, professional individual who takes
pride in the job for the client, saying, in effect, "I am a professional engineer in
whom you can place your trust."

To recommend the use of a recognized letter format, incorporating details such as
a colon after the salutation (in the full block style) may seem quibbling at first. But,
believe it or not, every professional is thoroughly acquainted with these details, and
will notice the gaffs in the etiquette ofthe communication.
   Currently there are fewer secretarial services available to the engineer than in for-
mer years. In many government and private industry offices, engineers are now
issued laptop or desktop computers to draft their own letters and reports. (Learn-
84    PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

ing to use a keyboard has become a professional necessity.) The engineer then
hands the diskette over to the secretary to proofread and print out. And even ifyou
do have full secretarial services, it is still your responsibility as the signing engineer
to ensure that a correct format has been used in the correspondence.

The Envelope Layout
Ifyou use a window envelope, a type often used for bills and invoices, the name and
address will appear on the left side ofthe envelope where the window is situated to
make use of the address on the bill or invoice. (The purpose of the window enve-
lope is to prevent use ofthe wrong envelope.) However, for envelopes that you will
print, type, or label the address onto, place the address approximately in the mid-
dle using the right half of the envelope, as shown in Figure 7-1. Spacing is flexible
and can be altered to accommodate the content ofthe address.


                                                                               area for

The postal code must be between 19 and 46 mm from the bottom, and 15 mm in
from the sides. If you use an attention line on the envelope this will be placed on
the left side as shown. It mayor may not be underlined or capitalized. You use an
attention line when you send the letter to a particular department but want to
specifY the person you have been in contact with in that department. Ifthe letter is
to be sent to a government office and you have used an attention line in the letter,
you should also use an attention line on the envelope to expedite the mail sorting.
   You type "Confidential" to the left of the name if you do not want anyone to
open the letter except the person to whom the envelope is addressed. Use uppercase
and bold to higWight this word.

The Letter Layout
As we have noted, the overall appearance of the letter is the first thing the reader
notices after opening the envelope. Many recipients never see, or never look at, the

If a letter is badly balanced, this subconsciously affects the reader's reception of the
contents. A big margin at the top ofa letter and a small margin at the bottom gives
a notably saggy effect to the page. Ifon the first page the address, the date, the sub-
                              CHAPTER 7: Letters and Memos: Styles and Elements     85

ject line, and the salutation take up a lot of space and then the text of the letter is
too wide, filling up the bottom ofthe page, you project an undesirable pear-shaped
appearance. See Figure 7-2.


        The pear shape-to be avoided!                A layout with lift

   Note: In layouts generally, the artist's convention is to keep the bulk of the black
ink or the heaviest bulk of the message (if using sketches and pictures) above the
centre line. This keeps the appearance buoyant and alive. When anything ages, it
sags and loses its lift - flowers droop, the wind dies, people stoop, balloons pucker
and deflate. The pear-shaped letter that sags inelegandy will presage a depressing
message. Instead, you want to project an image of vitality and alert intelligence,
which attention to the artistic aspect of a communication can produce.
   Leave margins on all four sides:
  1 1/4 - 1 1/2" (3 em) left margin
  1" (2.5 em) right margin
  1 1/4" (3 em) top margin
  1 - 1 112" (2.5 - 4 em) bottom margin
Ofcourse, short letters will have a much deeper bottom margin.
  Too litde material on a page also looks bad. Ifyour letter goes on to two or more
pages, the last page should have a minimum offive lines of text before the compli-
mentary close (see later). Adjust the text on the previous page in order to carry over
the necessary lines.
  Some good layouts are shown in Figure 7-3.

Previously, all professional people used a good grade ofpaper. Though now there is
less emphasis on this, the weight of the paper must still be at least 20-lb. bond.
There is now heavier-weight paper for copiers and for computer printers which is
suitable for good letters and reports. And universities have a thesis-quality, water-
marked, single-sheet-feed (and tractor-feed) computer paper that would be suit-
able for the text of reports.
86   PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers


   Governments set the standards for letter format. Previously; governments used a
very-good-quality paper, but now most governments use a good-quality paper for
the letterhead and a cheaper-quality one for the rest of the pages.
  Avoid coloured paper for reports, because all the pages must be consistent, and
this is impossible ifyou include any charts that come offyour computer in white.

The Parts of a Business Letter
The usual components of a business letter are shown in Figure 7-4. The following
sections discuss some of them in more detail.

A letterhead is a sheet on which your company name, address, etc. is already print-
ed; it is used as the first page of your letter. It eliminates the problem ofwhere to
place your own address, and presents an appealingly balanced layout that no longer
makes the placement of the text so critical.
   Letterheads come in many styles these days and can be very attractive. In engi-
neering, however, there is a conservative trend, and you may want to conform to a
standard style.
   If you do not have a letterhead, where do you put your address? See the letter
style sections later in this chapter for the format conventions for addresses.

The attention line, used when you are writing to a company; is useful when compa-
nies have several people working on a project. It names the person in the firm
                              CHAPTER 7: Letters and Memos: Styles and Elements       87

whom you wish to attend to the letter. Even ifthe person named has been taken off
the project, is on holiday, or has left the company, the letter will generally be direct-
ed to whomever is replacing that person.
   If, on the other hand, you merely address your letter personally to that person,
there is not the same freedom to pass on the correspondence. Also, the attention
line is useful even when you do not know the name ofthe person but you do know
the department, division, or ministry. In that case, you just name the department.


                                                                     (sender's address)
                                                                     (2 - 4 blank lines)
                                                                     Receiver's name
                                                                      Receiver's address

                                                                     (I blank line)
                                                                     (I blank line)
                                                                     Subject line
                                                                     (I blank line)
                                                                     (I blank line after
                                                                     each paragraph)

                                                                      (I blank line)
                                                                      Complimentary close

                                                                      (2 - 4 lines needed)
                                                                      Name ofwriter
                                                                      Title ofwriter
                                                                      (I - 3 blank lines)
                                                                      Reference initials
                                                                      Enclosures line
                                                                      Copy line

   The attention line is placed below the address of the receiver, after skipping a
line. The subject line (see next section) is placed below this, also after a skipped line.
There is no need for a salutation when you don't have anyone's name.
   Figure 7-5 shows a more professional-looking format than what you would get
by repeating the title of an unknown person as shown in Figure 7-6. Note the
redundancy of the latter. It simply emphasizes the fact that you don't know whom
you are writing to!
88     PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers



                                                                       Redundancy -
                                                                       to be avoided!

The subject line is important. When you have a sheaf ofletters on your desk or in a
file, a quick shuffle through the letters checking the subject lines will find the item
you are looking for easily. Otherwise you must peruse the letter, and this takes too
much time.
   The subject line should contain the project number, ifyou are already on a pro-
ject, and it should contain a brief title stating the subject ofthe letter.
    Underline the subject line, or bold the letters or use uppercase to highlight it.
You may use two of these attention-getters, but do not use all three.
     Re: Ministry of Health Database Server Report Update, Project 187
  A subject line is much like a thesis statement in an essay: it tells the reader what
to expect. You write the subject line first in your draft version, to keep you on track
about the purpose of the letter, then revise it when you have finished the letter to
reflect the subject ofthe letter more accurately.

Many letters go over one page in length, in which case the pages should be num-
                             CHAPTER 7: Letters and Memos: Styles and Elements    89

bered at the top right-hand corner as follows: "page 2," "-2-," or simply "2." Some
people include the name of the receiver or sender at the top ofthe page (and many
word processors make it easy to do so), but by convention a business letter has sim-
ply the page number. Reports and contracts, of course, follow a different conven-
tion, and do use headings providing various information.

The standard forms of complimentary close are "Yours truly," capitalizing "Yours"
only, or "Sincerely," followed by a comma. Both are somewhat redundant, since
you are expected to be sincere in your letter, but such closings have been used for a
  Ifyou know the receiver ofthe letter, "Regards" is fairly standard.
  One gracious complimentary close used by engineers is "Respectfully submit-
ted." (See Figure 7-7.) This is used in letters ofinterest and letters oftransmittal
accompanying reports (see Chapter 8).
  Skip one line between the bottom ofthe text ofthe letter and the complimenta-
  A recent change in business letters is to put your company name in capitals
where the complimentary close has previously been placed. This does look more
professional. See Figure 7-8.


90      PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

As shown in Figure 7-4, the typist (or, more accurately nowadays, keyboardist)
types the writer's initials in capitals followed by his or her initials in lowercase.
These reference initials are inserted for the interest of the sender, rather than the
receiver - to enable one to trace the path the letter has taken in composition and
   In some offices, where letters are written by someone to be sent out under the
signature ofsomeone else, such as a senior executive, the reference initials will indi-
cate the originator ofthe letter. For instance, ifsomeone named Terry R· Monahan
actually wrote the letter, though the letter is signed by Karl Dryden, this could be
indicated as shown in Figure 7-8.

The enclosure line, placed after one or two skipped lines from the signature block,
indicates that some additional material is enclosed along with the letter. Often the
writer ofthe letter will also refer to these enclosures in the text ofthe letter.
  This line is also an important reminder to the secretary to remember to put the
enclosure into the envelope after the letter has been signed.                        '

The abbreviation "cc:" used to stand for "carbon copy" but now it refers to any
copies of the letter that are distributed to third parties. The copy line is placed on
the line below the enclosure line. It is often an indication that action is being taken
on the subject.
  Now that we do not use carbon paper any longer, and instead ofputting "xc:" for
"xerox copy," many simply type the word "copy:" or "c:". Some offices are using
"pc:" for "printed copy," but this has not become standard.
     c: Joan Noble
     copy: Bill Price

  Sometimes you may want copies to go to other people but not want the recipi-
ents of the letter to know. This can be indicated by "be:" or "bee:," which means
blind copies, on your draft. Ofcourse this will not appear on the final copy sent to
the recipients.
  Blind copies are used in government to apprise other departments ofsituations
that may have implications in their area.
     be: Kathy Dennis

Business Letter Styles
There are several accepted styles of letter formats: jUll block, semiblock, modified
semiblock, and AMS (Administrative Management Society) simplified.

The current choice of most companies and governments is the jUll block style, in
which all lines start flush with the left margin and there is no punctuation at the
                              CHAPTER 7: Letters and Memos: Styles and Elements     91

end ofthe lines in the date or the address.
   This style recognizes the word-processing and typing activities that contribute to
efficient production. With every line starting flush left, there is no need to press the
return key and then the tab key. Also, the "word wrap" feature cuts down drastically on
use ofthe return key. This is a boon, as every keystroke is an opportunity for errors,
and more errors result in wasted paper, ribbons, and, most importandy, time.
   The full block style has presented a problem when a letterhead is not being used.
Your return address would go at the top left, followed by the date, and then the
address ofthe receiver. So ifthe reader wants to see at a glance whom the letter was
addressed to, the congestion of addresses and other information is confusing.
There are two solutions:
1. Some computer programs with built-in letter templates have solved the problem
   by centring your own typewritten name and address at the top of the page like
   a personal letterhead. This is, visually, a well-balanced solution. See Figure 7-9.

                HEAD (SOLUTION I)
92    PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

2. Place your own address at the bottom of the letter, skipping a line after your
   name. In this case, when the receiver wants to reply to you, he or she can sim-
   ply find your address at the bottom direcdy after your name and there is no
   confusion. This style has a better balance on the page as well. See Figure 7-10.

                 HEAD (SOLUTION 2)

The semiblock style is the older, standard format which some writers prefer as a style
that projects a more gracious, well-established image. It and the modified block style
are similarly laid out, except that the subject line and the paragraphs are indentedin
the semiblock and not indented in the modified block style.
  Figure 7-11 shows the semiblock style. Note the following features:
• The address of the sender is placed on the top right side of the letter, starting
    at the centre ofthe page or a few spaces right of the centre.
• The date is two lines below this address (i.e., you skip a line).
                             CHAPTER 7: Letters and Memos: Styles and Elements    93

• The name and address ofthe receiver are placed below the date, at the left
  margin. The space below is variable.
• There is no punctuation at the ends ofthe lines in either address.
• There is a colon after the salutation.
• The "Re:" line is centred and the first line ofeach paragraph is indented five
  letter spaces from the left margin. There is a colon after "Re:" (or "Subject:,"
  whichever you use). A line is skipped between paragraphs.
• The complimentary close starts after a skipped line below the body ofthe
  letter, aligned with the address ofthe sender and the date.
•   Two to four lines are skipped below the complimentary close for the name of
    the sender, leaving room for the signature.

Figure 7-11      THE SEMIBLOCK STYLE

This letter style, the latest to come into use, is more in tune with the general grow-
94     PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

ing reluctance to read (or type) anything that isn't absolutely necessary. Any inno-
vation will take on the patina of establishment in time; so even if you choose the
older style now; you should know the newer styles for fUture use. The features of
the AMS style are:
•    Omit the salutation and the complimentary close.
•    Capitalize the subject line and omit "Re:" or "Subject:."
•    Omit the punctuation at the end ofthe lines of the addresses.
See Figure 7-12.


Every company and government office has its own preferred style for memos,
which must provide four items of information at the top ofthe first page:
• The name of the recipient (and title or department)
                             CHAPTER 7: Letters and Memos: Styles and Elements   95

•   The name ofthe sender (and title or department)
• Thedate
• The subject ofthe memorandum
This information should be placed in the order shown in Figure 7-13. The text
begins directly below this information.

Figure 7-13     FORMAT OF MEMO FORM

                                                                   The text ofthe
                                                                   memo follows

   Many governments and companies use a letterhead with the memo, and there
are a number ofvariations on the setup ofthe heading information. But some styles
are confusing and should be avoided.

Facsimile (Fax) Memos
A facsimile (fax) transmission is usually in the form of a memo. When you use a
cover page, include the following information:
1. The name ofthe person the fax is being sent to, including the department or
   company and the fax number
2. How many pages the message consists of
3. The name ofthe sender ofthe fax and his or her department and fax number
Often a fax machine is used by several people, several departments, or several busi-
nesses, so you must identifY the receiver and the company or the department clearly
when you send a fax.
  Cover pages are obviously necessary when sending drawings or charts or other
information that do not have the ordinary memo/letter information. However,
they are being used less and less these days; a simple fax memo has now become
more common, incorporating the cover page information in a customized fax
memo form. So we now have companies (and government departments) with one
memo form for interoffice use and another for fax use.
  One fax memo from an engineering firm was set up as shown in Figure 7-14.

1. Write an interoffice memo to the junior engineer who wrote the memo to
   the Finance Department in Chapter 5's Exercise, question 7 (asking for the
   117 V power line for the second-floor offices).
96   PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

2. Explain to the junior engineer what was wrong with his memo and how he
   can write a better memo next time. Be tactful.

                ENGINEERING FIRM
                       Letters: Contents
Often the first communication (even before a personal meeting) between an engi-
neer and a client, another engineer, a consultant, or a government agency is a letter.
Consequently, the letter must not only look professional but the content must be of
professional quality as well.
   Form letters that use empty, archaic phrases are not going to present you as a
vital, informed-on-the-new-methods, intelligent engineer who is concerned about
satisfying the reader's needs. Custom-produce every letter you write, omitting
every phrase and cliche that does not apply to the project or the reader specifically.
Never write words like:
    K   Herewith
    K   Thank you for your consideration
    K   We wish to advise
    K   I am cognizant of

and so on.

  Since every letter has a specific purpose, the content must be solely concerned
with furthering that purpose:
•   To request information
•   To object or complain
•   To inquire about a situation or equipment
•   To respond favourably or unfavourably to another's requests
•   To sell an idea or material substance
•   To extend an invitation
In each case there is a specific reader from whom you need to elicit a specific
response, from whom you need cooperation on some matter. Through your letter
you are trying to help the reader do a better job for you. Obviously, then, the letter
is reader-focussed. To be reader-focussed you must be vigilant about the tone ofthe
letter. Scrutinize all words for antagonistic connotations, and remove provocative

98     PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

statements like "We didn't get the plans back in-time" or "You should have." In
• Don't be too harsh Words on the printed page seem much stronger than the
  spoken word.
• Don't be too soft Omit expressions like I hope, I fee~ I think, it seems.
• Don't be too ingratiating Limit the pleases and thankyous or omit them
  altogether. Current letter styles are much more direct than they were previously.
• Don't be too formal with expressions like When theparty ofthefirstpart.
• Don't be too informal with expressions like Wel~ ifwe get around to it, we
     should have theproposal in by Thursday or Friday.

The letter ofinterest, also called an expression ofinterest, is written most often in
response to an invitation for services announced by a client. The purpose ofsuch a
letter is to say "I'm interested in your project [bridge, highway, building, chair lift,
tunnel, studio]. Please give me a call, put me on the proposal list, or hire me for the
job." See Figure 7-10 for an example ofsuch a letter.
   The expression of interest should contain these points of information:
1.   Name, size, and description offirm
2.   Location ofoffice
3.   Understanding of the scope ofthe project and your part in it
4.   Resumes ofmembers ofthe firm who would be available for the assignment
5.   Previous experience doing similar work

The Proposal vs. the Letter of Interest
There is an increasing tendency to use the letter (or expression) ofinterest to check
the climate of a project before preparing the proposal. Everyone knows that there
are other proposals competing on every project and that only one will be approved.
Preparing this is an expensive process. After engineers have put together costly pro-
posals, projects will often be scrapped altogether, or no one will receive the contract
and later the job will be done by a company that did not go the proposal route; or
in tight-money situations, a firm may win approval to do a project (with the lowest
bid) and then be asked to cut its fees in halE Often the whole proposal process runs
into glitches and hitches and the engineer is many dollars out of pocket on jobs
that he or she doesn't get.
   Consequently, the letter of interest has become a survival mechanism. If after
getting a letter of interest the client asks for a more formal proposal, a company or
individual can then devote the time and money to submitting a proposal.

Short Version of the Letter of Interest
A short letter of interest should contain at least:
• A subject line naming the project
                                                 CHAPTER 8: Letters: Contents    99

• An acknowledgement in the first paragraph that you know about the project
• A three-to-five line paragraph on the company profile, stating the nature of
  your company: for example, that you are a private company wholly owned by
  two partners with offices in Denver and Winnipeg
• A statement ofwhat you propose to do for the client
• A description ofyour specialties (expenise) applicable to the project
• A list ofsimilar projects your company has done
• A request for information on the project: when the proposals are due, etc.
• A request for an invitation to propose or for an interview

Longer Version of the Letter of Interest
If the project is more specific, you might submit a longer, ten-to-twenty page
expression ofinterest, which will include:
• A subject line naming the project (and the project number)
• An acknowledgement ofyour knowledge ofthe project
• What you think the project needs, with some details to show that you
  understand its scope having learned from previous work in the same field
• Confirmation that you or your firm can meet these needs
• The company profile detailing the extent ofyour facilities (your CAD
  capabilities, your offices in the area ofthe project, etc.)
• Resumes and biographies ofthe principals in your company and the
  in-house experts who could make a valuable contribution
• A list or description of two or three similar jobs you have done

General Comments
Even in the longer version, the expression of interest is a shon unsolicited propos-
al, a synopsis of what you would enclose in a full proposal. Therefore, do not
include anyfees or details ofhowyou mightgo about designing or managing theproject.
  Note: Though the letter of interest is less formal, it must still be of the highest
professional calibre in presentation - the more so because it will determine whether
you will be invited to submit a proposal or ifyou will be offered the job directly.
  There are many cases in which the engineer has been awarded a contract on
the strength of the letter of interest alone. So take pains to make it strong and

The letter oftrammittal is either attached to the outside of the cover of a repon or
bound inside the cover in front ofthe title page. Its purpose is twofold:
1. To convey the purpose of the repon, describing in a short paragraph what the
   report is about
2. To present in a paragraph or two a condensation of the conclusionslrecom-
   mendations ofthe report
100 PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

The Letter of Transmittal vs. the Executive Summary
The letter of transmittal provides opportunities that the executive summary does
not, including the opportunity for the engineer to personalize the report by:
• Putting his or her letterhead in the report, which cannot be done in an execu-
  tive summary
• Making the report slightly more gracious, even thanking the client for the
  opportunity to do the work and, more importantly, putting in a sell for further
  work on the project or for future jobs
• Recognizing any other persons who contributed to the project or report
To capitalize on these opportunities, attach the letter oftransmittal permanently
into the report under the cover so that it does not become separated, as could
happen if the letter were simply clipped to the outside cover. (A paper-clipped
letter will go in the file and the report will go its rounds without your letterhead
   The letter oftransmittal is always only one page in length. See Figure 8-1.

Letters ofinquiry are sent to clients, journals, suppliers, universities, governments,
companies, and consultants. The purpose ofsuch letters is to get information.
  When you want information, you have to be explicit about exactly what you
want and you have to provide enough information so that the reader understands
what you want. So:
• Direct the letter to a specific person Try to find the name ofsomeone who is
  able to provide what you want.
• Describe generally what you are trying to do so that the reader will under-
  stand the context in which you need the information. For example, ifyou have
  seen a new sealant advertised in a trade magazine, and want more information,
  you should indicate the materials you need to seal.
• Ask what you want to know Write the questions carefully and precisely
  (rewrite ifnecessary), and number the questions. Ifpossible, leave space for the
  reader to scribble the answers on the letter to return to you; thus they will be
  encouraged to answer. Otherwise, they may simply send a brochure ofcom-
  mercial hype, or a response that hardly bears on what you need to know.
• Keep the tone professional, not demandingthe information, but also not
  slobbering with excess advance gratitude.
   Some kinds ofrequest letters involve the art ofpersuasion as much as a sales let-
ter, such as letters inviting (requesting) people to participate in conferences or con-
ventions, or to speak at graduation ceremonies. See the section "The Sales Letter"
later in this chapter.
                                               CHAPTER 8: Letters: Contents   I0 I


Guidelines for Requests or Inquiries
•   State your request.
•   Provide your explanation ofwhy you need the information.
•   Make sure the information is complete.
•   Use lists to clarifY complicated requests.
•   Use a friendly voice - not curt or impersonal.
•   Be positive and "you-centred."
•   Include your return address where the reader can find it.
•   Make response as easy as possible by including a self-addressed, stamped
    envelope (SASE). (Remember, Canadian stamps for Canada, American
    stamps for the U.S.A. - or International Reply Coupons bought at the post
    office and clipped to your envelope for foreign destinations.)
I 02 PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

Good news letters include:
• Invitations
• Letters of thanks
• Contract award notifications
• Approval notices
• Order memos
• Congratulatory letters


Who has trouble telling or writing someone good news? It is a pleasure most of us
can do well. Nevertheless, a good news letter should follow these suggestions:
1. Put the good news up front. Why wait to tell someone something good?
2. Support with necessary details.
                                                    CHAPTER 8: Letters: Contents     103

3. Resell the client, ifsuitable.
4. Close with a goodwill message.
    Figure 8-2 gives an example ofa good news letter.

Bad news letters include:
•   Refusals ofinvitation
•   Refusal to provide information or services requested
•   Complaints (about misorders, poor service, faulty equipment)
•   Rejection ofjob applicants
•   Chastisement
•   Collection (overdue bill reminders)
The primary consideration in all negative-message communication is the dignity of
the reader. There is an art to constructive complaint that hinges on preserving the
victim's self-esteem. Think ofthe reaction ofthe reader to everything you write. For
example: How does a reader react to the following job rejection? "You don't meet
the requirements ofthe job." Among other things, it seems to say:
    You are inadequate.
    You will never be good enough.
    You are a useless failure.
Why not say the following? "Your qualifications are impressive, but we are current-
ly looking for a person with extensive experience in quotation analysis and specifi-
cation documentation. Nevertheless, thank you for your interest in Whyco Engi-
neering." What does this say to the reader?
    You're all right Jack, though you don't have the special experience the job requires.

The Complaint Letter
The objective of the complaint letter is to criticize or complain, but without
destroying morale. This takes verbal care. True, you may feel like writing "You
idiots didn't send the right bucklenuts in our order and now we have to wait a week
and the whole project is offschedule." This is certainly "you-oriented," but it is also
antagonistic. Even if you write "You made a serious error in the last shipment of
bucklenuts" - you are not being a model of diplomacy, for any accusation is too
much. Think of how you would feel if accused of a misdemeanor, blamed for a
problem, or threatened in some way. How do you react?
• You become instantly defensive, even angry.
• You protest.
• You come out fighting.
• You want to quit.
I 04 PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

• You don't feel good about yourself
• You don't feel good about the accuser.
• You call your lawyer.
There is also the possibility that you have not done what you are accused of, or
may have been acting under the direction ofsomeone else. Also, when you accuse
someone, you are in an especially awkward position if it turns our that the error
was yours:
• Perhaps your office sent the company a requisition using the wrong bucklenut
  order number.
• Maybe it was a simple typo on your part.
• Maybe your catalogue was out ofdate and that number had been changed.
   For all these reasons, the complaint letter must be constructive and .fU(fi11 itspur-
pose. The purpose of the letter on the bucklenuts would be to have the proper
bucklenuts sent as soon as possible and to have future orders filled to your satisfac-
tion. Will your letter achieve this goal? Does a belligerent, accusatory letter further
these purposes or does the receiver inadvertently misplace (sabotage) your future
orders and leave you in a desperate situation? For your own selfish reasons you
should monitor the tone of all your writing, since the person you denigrate may
one day be your boss, hold the deciding position over your career moves, or
become an in-law.

1. State the problem dearly Many complaint letters leave you puzzled about
   the actual problem, especially when the writer is filled with emotion.
2. Address the problem, not the person
   " You made a serious error in the last shipment of bucklenuts.
   ,/ We received three dozen wingnuts instead of bucklenuts on the order
      received March 15, Invoice #7006.
   " You have written the worst manual we have ever tried to use.
   ,/ In the manual for the graphics program, we need to know how to call up
      the menus.
3. Get the reader on your side by using phrases such as "We are concerned for
   the company," "We both need," etc. Find a reason why it is to their advantage
   to cooperate with you.
4. Make no accusations or threats
5. Invite the reader to discuss the case with you to discover any extenuating
   circumstances. This shows good faith - you are not willing to shoot them
   down without a hearing.
6. Express a need for their help and cooperation Few people can resist a plea
   for help. Be clear how you want the reader to help you: "Send the #65GB
   bucklenuts by air freight to the site."
7. Don't set time limits except for long-overdue bills or in situations that are
   desperate. Time limits are also threatening. Remember that there can be
                                                  CHAPTER 8: Letters: Contents   I 05

   a certain gratification in defYing someone else's time limit!
8. End with a statement ofgoodwill such as "We have always received good
   service from Morrison's and expect to do so in the fUture."

The Refusal Letter
Again, in all communications, and particularly complaint letters or refUsal letters,
you must be concerned with saving the dignity o/the recipient.

1. Begin with a buffer statement This is a shoft lead-in to the bad news. (Some
   writers take exception to this and feel they should put the bad news up front,
   and not create an artificial preamble that condescends to the receiver of the
   news. You may agree or not. This is a personal choice, determined in part by
   the character ofthe receiver of the news.)
2. State the bad news, simply and clearly
3. Give the reasons You can almost always find a way to turn the reasons from
   a negative to a partial negative. For example, give alternatives. Say you are
   turning down an engineer's offer to supply the software for some computer
   hardware you have designed. You could say:
   We have decided to concentrate our efforts on the hardware development only
   at this time. Cushion Software has taken over the development of the software
   for our products. They may be interested in your proposal. which sounds very
   interesting to us.
4. Close with a positive remark Don't refer back to the bad news but leave the
   reader with some considerate comment. On the other hand, don't use some
   hackneyed phrase like "We wish you success in your venture." And don't be
   too sweet. No one likes someone else being too nice and kind when they have
   just been disappointed. Try the humane approach, as in: "I appreciate the
   time you have taken to put this offer together and I hope we can do business
   together the next time around."
  You should also consider alternatives to brute refUsals:
• Is there a chance that the reader can do part ofthe job? Ifso, suggest this in
  your letter.
• You can delay by suggesting that a decision cannot be reached at this time and
  perhaps they should not wait.
• Recommend that they work in tandem with another client, or suggest they
  offer their services to the client who will be doing the job for you.
• Suggest that you are interested but they will have to provide more information,
  perhaps information that you know they may not be able to supply.
• Can you find some face-saving special reason why you cannot meet their needs?
  Did their offer arrive too late? Is the decision being made by someone else?
• Perhaps you can tell them that you have had someone in mind for the job but
  you would accept a proposal/application from them anyway in case there is a
  change in plans.
I 06 PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

There are few situations in which an engineer is asked to write a straight sales letter,
but he or she may have to incorporate the elements of a sales letter in replies to let-
ters requesting information. And there are jobs in industry that hire engineers to be
direct salespeople when the products are highly technical, in which case the engi-
neer may send out sales letters, though usually it is the salesperson who will meet
the client and present the material in a direct presentation.
   Ifyou do write a sales letter, it should exemplifY the art ofpersuasion in the same
way as your application letters, letters of interest, and proposals. (See the section
"Persuasion" in Chapter 3.)
   Basically such a letter follows these guidelines:
1. Get the reader's attention "Can you afford to lose your database to a viral
2. Secure his or her interest in your product or purpose by indicating its bene-
   fits What's in it for them? "Wanikas Software Inc. is a distributor of Virus
   Buster, a comprehensive virus detection, removal, and prevention software
   program for DOS-based PCs, and fully compatible with network systems."
3. Provide convincing support for your claims, by describing the success the
   product has achieved for other companies, giving the names ofsome
   prestigious buyers like the Department ofNational Defense, or naming some
   recognized authority in the field who has endorsed the product.
       Give only thepositive details. Omit the limitations and features that may not
   be competitive in some way.         .
4. Tell the reader what action is to be taken to obtain the product "We will
   be attending the Canadian Computer Show and Conference in the Toronto
   International Centre, Mississauga, Ontario, where we can demonstrate
   Virus Buster, or we can have a salesperson visit you personally ifyou call our
   1-800 number."

The application letter is a covering letter with a resume. Just as a proposal does
the selling in the corporate area, your application letter does the selling of your
personal services.
  One long-time personnel consultant, who has interviewed over a thousand
applicants, strongly recommends that you put your name and phone number in
bold across the top ofthe letter. In this way ina sheafofletters the name will stand
out clearly on a prospective employer's desk. (See Figure 8-3.)
  Use a subject line to specifY exactly what position(s) you are applying for. Do
your homework and phone the company to find out who the president is, who the
                                                 CHAPTER 8: Letters: Contents I 07

personnel officers are, and where they are located (unless you are answering an ad
by a hiring agency that doesn't reveal the name ofthe company). Try to obtain a job
description for the position - larger companies and all government departments
keep such descriptions.


Application Letter Guidelines
• Answer the job description requirements as best you can without sounding
  too pompous or self-laudatory.
• Let the facts speak for you rather than interjecting how much you really
  want the job or how you can do such a great job for them.
• Answer the specific features they are looking for - so that you clearly
  demonstrate your perceptive skills.
  Figure 8-4 shows an example ofan ad you might reply to.
108 PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers


                                                           In any endeavour, a pcrfe<t performance springs from a single-minded
          It talres decades                                dedicatioo to one's all. It is through such dedication to excellence that
              ofdedication                                 FujilSUhasbcccmcthesc<:oodlargcstc:omputercompanyworldwide-with
                                                           a range ofproducts !hat is sc<:ood to none.
             to achieve
                                                           We   a~   . - expanding oor p~sencc in lhe Canadian Information
    technicalexceUence                                     Ted1nology rnarkd.

                                   CllllSistent with our plan to increase our penetration of the UNIX marketplace. Fujitsu is
                                   now looking for a UNIX Systems Engineer experienced in SPARC based systems.
                                   Operating in an UNIX environment. your high energy level. entrepreneurial spirit and
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                                   Your expertise in perfOrmance analysis. capacity planning, DB and network design
                                   implemenwion. produetlindustry knowledge. presentatillllS, benchmark guidance and
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                                   that "added value" necessary for success.

                                   As a seasoned marketing manager. you have solid technical knowledge and skills in a UNIX
                                   environment. \bur previous experience with VARS management will enable you to develop
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                                   Your proactive management style, excellent communication and presentation skills will
                                   ensu~ your success in developing strategies for product management. planning re\eases,
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                                   materials.for ourdirect and indirect marketing channels.

     The llIICCeSSful candidates will possess well developed communication skills and an effective interpersonal style with five
     10 eight year.;' experiences in a \\:ndorenvironment.

     In addition to an attractive compensation and benefit package, we offer a unique opportunity to encourage and enhance
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Source: By permission of Fujitsu Systems Business of Canada, Inc,

In the following exercises choose one ofthe accepted letter formats and follow it
Letter ofInterest
1. Write a letter ofinterest to the Commonwealth Games Committee (Victoria
    1994) expressing an interest in oqe ofthe following:
   • Doing the electrical engineering for the stadium
    • Designing a system to relay the results ofthe races to the officials
                                                  CHAPTER 8: Letters: Contents I 09

   • Supplying a high-speed safety boat for the water events
   • Supplying yovr own special contribution
2. Write a letter expressing your interest in doing a study of bicycle safety for
   your civic government.
3. Write a letter ofinterest to a university proposing your services in designing
   a new, computerized information map at the entrances to the university
   where the visitors can indicate their destination and the map will show them
   how to get there and where the parking facilities are in proximity to their
Letter ofInquiry
4. a. Write to a manufacturer or the author of an article in an engineering journal
      asking for information. Be specific in your request.
  b. Write to another university asking for information about one of their
     graduate or undergraduate programs relative to your career goals.
  c. Write to Sanyo Corporation in Japan asking for information on the
     magnetrons used in their microwave ovens. Say you are doing some research
     that needs a magnetron to generate high-frequency radio waves and their
     magnetron looks to be suitable.
       Describe the use you need it for, and ask for the prices of their various
     units. Welcome any information they have on other uses oftheir
     magnetrons. Ask what the hazards and limitations are (the specs on the
  Ensure that you will not have to write a second letter.
Complaint Letter
5. Write a complaint letter to one ofthe following:
   a. A merchandiser who sold you an unsatisfactory product
   b. Your university, about housing, parking, food, etc.
   c. The appropriate government (local, provincial, or federal) about traffic
      hazards, parking restrictions around your university, student loans, hiring
      policies (language requirements for federal jobs), etc.
Refusal Letter
6. Reply to another student's letter of complaint, interest, or inquiry, giving
   good news, giving bad or partially bad news, or refusing what he or she wants
   but providing some satisfaction.
Sales Letter
7. Write to an acquaintance (not a close friend) in another city and try to sell
   him or her your car, computer, or bicycle. Pretend you have heard this person
   is looking for a used car, computer, or bicycle. Incorporate the necessary
   components of a sales letter.
Letter ofApplication
8. Write a letter of application for a job advertised in the newspaper or a student
               Credentials Package;
             Company Profile; Resume

The credentialspackage is part ofthe standard requirement ofany engineering pro-
posal when responding to an RFP (request for proposal). When the firm is
responding to a "call for credentials" the company profile is the whole package.
Governments or institutions may issue a call for credentials when they need to
compile a list ofqualified consultants and experts to assist.

The credentialspackage includes the following information:
• A description ofthe expertise of the individuals in the firm and the tasks they
  are competent to handle
• Examples ofpast similar experience
•   Resumes
•   Locations of business
•   Contacts to whom questions may be addressed within the company
•   A list ofthe hourly rates (usually appreciated even if not asked for specifically)
Often the "call for credentials" will stipulate: "Please provide a concise credentials
package." The wise writer will note the word concise.

The Company Profile
In some cases, the company profile will consist of a single paragraph followed by a
list ofprevious jobs that are noteworthy. Sometimes it is longer, but no company is
worth more than three pages ofself-acclamation.
   A typical company profile can include any or all of the following items of
• History ofthe firm When the company was formed, where it is located, and
  any changes that may have been made in the title ofthe company - for
  example, "Whyco Engineering Limited was incorporated in 1983 in Dodge
  City as a firm ofelectrical engineers"

                      CHAPTER 9: Credentials Package; Company Profile; Resume I I I

• Description ofservices provided - for example, "The company provides a
  full range ofprofessional engineering and management services for projects in
  North America. Services include budgeting, studies," etc.
• Principal areas ofspecialization
• Typical project experience A list ofsimilar previous projects undertaken
• Principals/officers/staffresumes, including professional memberships (in
  IEEE, AACE, etc.)
   Some RFPs will specifY exactly where the company profile is to be placed in the
proposal and what it is to include. For instance, one government format for a pro-
posal on a government accounting systems strategic plan specifies that the compa-
ny profile be placed directly after the executive summary, giving the following
order: title page, table of contents, executive summary, company profile, bidder
response, proposed approach, pricing, appendixes.
  When the RFP has not stipulated where the profile isto be placed or if the pro-
posal is self-motivated, it is usually placed somewhere near the beginning of the
proposal. Sometimes there is a shon resume of the principal engineers (these may
or may not feature a picture; see the following section) near the beginning, and the
resumes of the support engineers are placed in an appendix at the end of the pro-
posal. Or the resumes of all the personnel are placed at the end in the appendix.

The Resume
There are two kinds of resumes: personnel and personal. (A resume is also called a
curriculum vitae.) The two convey essentially the same information - a person's
education and work experience - but personnel resumes follow the company profile
and are part ofa proposal, while a personal resume, on the other hand, is an outline
of your qualifications that you submit with a covering application letter when
applying for a job.

  Resumes can also be classified according to style: they can be functional, chrono-
logical, or some combinedversion.

Personnel resumes deal with the principal executives ofan engineering firm and the
specialist engineers who will be assigned to the project being proposed. On all
resumes, the names must be prominent. You do not need to include addresses and
phone numbers on a personnel resume attached to a proposal. The company
address will be prominent on the title page.
   Sometimes the personnel resume will feature pictures of the executives. This
may seem hokey, but, in fact, it is quite a good sales technique - the proposal is,
after all, primarily a sales document. (See Chapter 10 on proposals.) Thumb
through any magazine, and your eye will be attracted to a picture ofa face first - it
will take precedence over a picture of a dog, a landscape, a glass of wine, or any
1 12 PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

other subject. And if there is no face on the page you probably won't even slow
down. The readers of proposals are also human beings and they will stop at a page
with a face on it - that is, a reproduction of a photo.
  The personnel resume should be ofthe fimctionalstyle, since you want to emphasize
engineering capabilities and not the years the executives graduated. See Figure 9-1.


The personal resume should also present the name prominendy; with address and
phone numbers. Both the chronological and the functional are good styles for the
personal resume. Present your experience and education chronologically with the
latest year first followed by the preceding years. Figure 9-2 shows a personal resume.
   Do not include a photograph in a personal resume.
   With regard to your list of references you should advise your referees that you
have given their nameS. (Avoid putting "References: Available on Request," which
leaves an employer in a difficult position ifhe or she wants to check your references
before contacting you.)
                 CHAPTER 9: Credentials Package; Company Profile; Resume    113


                                                                           who can
                                                                           to your

1 14 PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

  Another setup of the chronological resume is shown in Figure 9-3. Figure 9-4
provides an example ofa personal resume in the fUnctional style.


1. For a consulting company you might own, create a credentials package
   suitable for responding to the invitation to consultants shown in Figure 9-5.
2. Write your own personal resume in both forms, chronological and functional.
                                 CHAPTER 9: Credentials Package; Company Profile; Resume   I 15


        Invitation To Consultants
    The C8pIlaI RegIonaJ Olslrlct (CRO) IsRegional Development Stralllgy, the
    orIenled studies In 199213 lnl:Iudlng \he
                                              undet1aklng a number of "fUtul8s·

    Regional TraJ)sporlIlIIon SlraIegy, Liquid Waslfl Management Plan. Regional
    Parks Plan revlewand Atmospheric Chang/! Task Force. To provide a context
    lor these and other underlakJnIls the CRO BoIiJd has decided 10 embark upon a
    'VIsioning' elllllClse 10 IdenlIIy \he common regional vaIues and goals WhIch can
    guide such underlakIngs.
    The CRD Is Inlllre6l11d In
    • developing aprogram 10 oblaIn public inputaboutvalues and goals as Input10
       this 'VIsIoning' elllIICIse
    -. means ofcollfenlng with \he community which could Include a variety of
       approaches 10 public consultalion on values and goals
    The CRO seeks EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST from Interested IndMduals or
    IIrms w1thextenshieexperlenceln publlcinvolveiilenland consultalionson policy
    Issues. The avaJlabllily 10 carry out such work between April 1992 and January
    1993 should be stal8d.
    EXPRESSION OF INTEREST should be submitllld to:
                            Pro)st Coordinator
                  SUb-CommlttM on Reglonlll VaI_ and GoaJs
                            Reglonallnfonnat::HI SIIl'Vlce
                               CIIp1te1 Reglon&l DI8trIcI
                                     p.o. Box 1000
                              VIctoria, S.c. vaw  2$6; QI'
                      cIeIlver to _nd floor 510 Vahi. S~et
    All EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST should be received In the CRD by 4:00
    p.m., March 31,1992. An information package Ia avallabla from Regional
    Information service.

   Capital Regional District
   Victoria. B.C.

Source: By permission of Capital Regional District, Victoria, B.C.
Contracts resulting from proposals are bread and butter for the engineer. Without
the ability to write a competitive, persuasive proposal, the engineer will soon be out
  A proposal is a statement describing whatyou, the engineer, will do for the client,
and will generally include the following information:
1. Your understanding of the project and your part in it
2.   Your qualifications
3.   The services you will provide
4.   The services you will not provide
5.   An estimate of the fees you require to perform this service
A proposal relies on your ability in writing to sell your engineering services (or your
company's) - to solve a problem" to investigate a situation, or to undertake a study.

   Proposals can be either solicited or unsolicited, and informal or formal They can
also be classified by the type ofjob to be done.

A solicitedproposalis written in response to an RFP made by a government agency,
educational institution, private firm, or research foundation.
   Examples ofthe requestfor proposal can be found in the legal notices section ofthe
newspapers, the trade papers, journals ofcommerce, the Federal Register, or research
lists in the civic libraries (ask a librarian). A typical one is shown in Figure 10-1.
   If you have registered your firm on the bidders lists of the different levels of
government - civic (at city hall), provincial/state, or federal level- you will receive
a personal request for proposal. In some cases, ifyou hear of a project that will be
undertaken, you can request to be put on their proposal list. Most engineering
firms familiarize themselves with the architects in their community and apprise
them of the scope of their engineering services so that they will be invited to pro-
pose on a project as an engineer or subconsultantwith the architect.

                                                          CHAPTER 10: Proposals I 17

Figure 10-1               A TYPICAL RFP

               . SERVICES
     The CRD is seeking an Engineering Consultant
  lor the design, preparation 01 contract documents,
  and partial construetlon supervision oIa landfill gas
  collectfon sYstem for the Hartland Landfin.
     To be considered, propol8l8 must be received
  no later than 4:30 p.m., Monday. February 15.
     An. Information package will be available upon
  request for Interested consultants after 1:00 p.m.,
  February 3,1993, .. the CRD En.glneerlng ofllces
  at 524 Valli Street. In VICIoria, a.c.
     Fo(further Information please contact Jlm.Gles-
  bracht at 360-3065.                              .
    The lowell or any prilPOlll may not necelSarily
  be accepted.

The umolicitedproposal is simply an uninvited proposal that you submit when you
hear of a project.This is usually quite acceptable, but you will want to have a very
strong letter of explanation accompanying your proposal, explaining why you are
worthy ofconsideration. There are also proposals that government-employed engi-
neers must write to the Treasury Board or to the cabinet for government programs
and for new and renewal installations. These have standardized formats that the
engineer will be directed to follow.

An informalproposal is usually three to ten pages of text plus attachments. There
are many different proposal presentation concepts. Most firms prefer to make
theirs original in style, appearance, and content - to make their proposals stand
out. Some firms hire professional writers to do the final layout and editing of
the proposal. The most important feature is quality - in content, writing, and

Components of the Short Proposal
• Tide page Identify the project name and number, the client, and you or
  your firm. The cover can be the title page on a short proposal.
• Executive summary or letter oftransmittal Describe briefly the nature of
  the proposal. This can be on the first page ofthe text in short proposals.
• Table ofcontents and list ofillustrations Omitted in a proposal ofless
  than five pages.
I 18 PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

• Project name
• Description ofproject Oudine the nature of the problem from the angle
  ofwhat you can do for the client on the project. Demonstrate that you under-
  stand what the project will involve.
• Statement of qualifications Include the background ofthe company, number
  ofemployees, the length of time in business, previous project lists ofsimilar
  jobs, a list of repeat clients.
• Company profile Include a company profile and resumes ofthe principal
  (expert) personnel who will be participating in the project or study.
• Scope ofservices Describe the scope of the services you would provide,
  for example:
   •   Design capabilities
   •   Project management
   •   In-house drafring capabilities
   •   Research experience
   •   Measurement services
   •   Project evaluation
   Also state what services you would not provide. For example:
   The engineering of electronic systems fitup is excluded in the proposal call
   documents, so we do not propose our consulting services for those systems.
   However, regardless of the scope of systems that will be installed in the IBC
   and MPC areas, an infrastructure of raceways, conduit, cable routing access, and
   interspatial audio, video, control, and communication trunks will be required to
   ease the installation and tear-down of each user's systems.
• Estimated fees Estimate how much it will cost the client to hire your services
  - your fixed fee for the job or an upsetfee (the ceiling estimate based on your
  hourly rate - they will pay less but not more).
• Supplementary or ancillary services Suggest what other services you can

• Resumes ofthe team engineers
• Lists or pictures ofprevious successfUl projects that are similar
                                                        CHAPTER 10: Proposals I 19

   The short proposal may take the form of a letter or a short report. Proposals
within a company or a government body may be in memo form.
   Figure 10-2 shows a short letter proposal to study wind conditions in the
Hope/Fraser Valley area, 100 km east ofVancouver, for a proposed windmill power

A typical government RFP for a formal proposal is shown in Figure 10-3. Formal
proposals can also vary considerably in length, but are always in report format, i.e.,
there is a title page, an executive summary, proper headings for the introduction,
subheadings in the body ofthe proposal, and personnel material attached.
  Figure 10-4 gives the contents of the first page of a very brief formal proposal.
The first page is a title page. In this version, the body of the proposal starts imme-
diately on page 2, which is shown in Figure 10-5. In a longer version:, page 2 would
contain the table of contents.

• Design/build proposals These proposals are submitted when a company or
  engineer offers to both engineer and construct the client's project. Often the
  company or engineer will hire others to form a teatn to do the construction.
• Supply and install proposals These are proposals submitted to a client who
   has already employed an engineer to design and specifY a system and wants a
   contractor to supply and install the equipment according to the design.
• Specialist or consultant proposals These are often a response to RFPs by the
  client. They may be proposals to perform studies such as traffic studies, or
  feasibility studies on soils, weather conditions, water conditions, wind condi-
  tions, noise conditions, etc. For example, in order to install a tsunami warning
  system in a coastal area, a city may need a study of the ambient community
  noise levels in order to design a warning system that can be heard throughout
  the area.

Proposal Guidelines
• Address the client's major concerns.
• List the criteria the client will use to evaluate the proposal. Your proposal
  must meet these criteria.
• Anticipate any questions the client might ask regarding your ability to do
  the job well.
• Anticipate any objections the client may have to the success ofyour bid.
• ClarifY what you want from the reader in terms that he or she will under-
  stand. What specific work or part ofthe project do you want to provide?
• Choose the layout, headings, and font style carefully to make your infor-
  mation easily accessible to the reader.
• Describe your proposed services, rather than informingthe client ofthe means
      120 PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers




                                                     CHAPTER 10: Proposals    121

 to do the job. Many engineers have submitted proposals to clients outlining
 what is necessary to do the job, and the client has used the information in
 the proposal to do the job without hiring the engineer! (See Chapter 3's section
 "Summarizing" for a clear differentiation between describing and informing.)


I 22 PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers


1. Write a short proposal on one ofthe following subjects:
   a. To the Physics Department ofyour university proposing that they hire you
      (or your company) to standardize the physics labs for first- and second-
      year physics lab courses
   b. To your local civic government to do a study to construct bike lanes for
      safe access onto the campus
                                                       CHAPTER 10: Proposals    123

   c. To the federal government to incorporate a bike lane on all new highways,
      or all highways
   d. To the Student Union Society to abolish Thursday Night Sub Night
   e. To the Vice President Academic, to reincorporate compulsory physical
      education in first and second year at the university
2. As a quality control expert, write a proposal to an appropriate authority or
   firm offering your services to improve the quality in some tool, hardware, soft-
   ware, equipment, procedure, or system in your school, at work, or at home.
3. The Canadian Advanced Systems Institute has $1.2M grant money for
   research into bioengineering projects.
      Bioengineering is the study ofthe structure, function, and mechanisms of
   plants and animals to gain desigrl information for analogous use by man -
   i.e., using biological prototypes for the design of manmade systems. For
   example, historically:
   • The bat's use ofthe reflection ofsound for navigation prompted the
       development ofsonar and radar.
   • The study ofthe eyesight ofvultures, who have the best vision ofall
      animals (2 1/2 magnification from heights) led to the development of
      coated lenses for microscopes and cameras.
      Choose a species ofanimal, fish, bird, or insect, and investigate (research,
   observe, and speculate about) any possible technical application that can be
   derived from some physical characteristic ofthe specimen that you choose.
      Write a proposal to the Advanced Systems Institute asking for a grant to do
   further study on your subject, describing the specific characteristics that would
   be worth serious study.
                    Oral Presentations

"What features do you notice other speakers - professors, instructors, teachers, or
preachers - use that capture your attention? Usually the following features will be
• Speaks loudly enough to be heard
• Isenthusiastic about the subject
• Has good voice quality: dynamic, and clear, not a monotone
• Doesn't read out the lecture
• Incorporates real-life applications and experience, and current sources
• Is sincere; recognizes the value ofthe listeners - does not condescend or make
  fools of them
• Instills confidence in listeners' command ofthe subject
• Speaks slowly enough that listeners can take notes and follow the ideas in their
  heads                                        '
• Pauses to let the listeners digest the ideas
Try to incorporate these features in your own presentations.

Before Starting
Constricting or unfamiliar clothes will make you feel self-conscious and awkward,
which can hamper your presentation and prevent you from focussing on your

• Being prepared will reduce much of the nervousness you will otherwise
• Do not try to make too many points. A few points well developed will be more
• Use the techniques used in good writing, i.e., analogies, examples, illustration,
  cause and effect, etc.

                                                  CHAPTER II: Oral Presentations   I 25

•   Rehearse, and try to fill exactly the length oftime you are allowed so that you
    will not be humiliated by being cut offbefore you make your best statement.

If you forget one part ofyour memorized topic, you may not be able to continue.
The best strategy is simply to learn your subject very well. Write your main purpose
clearly on a card and then itemize very briefly the points you intend to make. Stop-
ping to note your next point is often a welcome pause for the audience, who can
assimilate what you have just said before you move on to the next part ofyour pre-
sentation. Do not be afraid o/thepauses ("dead air").
   You tfay memorize your opening line and your dosing line, however, so that you
get off to a good start and have some point on which to end. The opening will set
the tone for your presentation and the last statement will be the idea they are left
with when you finish.

Any visual aid, such as a graph, table, or chart -:- even writing the title of the topic
on the boards - is better than none. The mind perceives 25 percent more visually
than orally; consequently, a visual aid improves the comprehension of a presenta-
tion by 25 percent. A visual aid also offers the audience a focus for their attention
other than the person speaking; many in the audience worry about where they
should and should not be looking.
   A visual aid also gives the speaker a focus, and a crutch perhaps to take the atten-
tionoff ofher or his own personal appearance, enabling the speaker to relax more.
   Other visual aids that can be used are:
•   Key words written on a blackboard or flip chart
• A slide presentation
• Previously prepared material on a flip chart
• Material pasted on cardboard that can be propped on the ledge of the
• Some physical object such as a tool or piece ofequipment held in your hand
  for demonstrating a point
Any aid is of great benefit. The mind wanders quickly when you must simply
listen to words.

Make sure you have a podium, desk, or table, and the overheads and projectors if
you need them. Arrange the chairs if necessary, and ensure that there will be fresh
air while you are speaking.

During the Presentation
Speak out dearly and distinctly, not racing through the material or mumbling. Stu-
126 PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

dents often mumble to mask their insecurity in hopes that the listener won't hear
half ofwhat they are saying and consequently won't notice that they are not sure of
or don't know what they are talking about.

Asking the audience who they are or what they know about the subject will trigger
their mental involvement while helping you to gauge the proper depth for your
  Notice and adjust for audience reactions. Create them, if necessary; by asking
questions directly or rhetorically.

Smile when you start. Many people are apprehensive when someone speaks to
them. They don't know whether they are going to be confronted with uncomfort-
able topics or ideas they cannot cope with. So a smile is a friendly gesture that relax-
es them. You do not have to be Hollywood-charming. In fact, an audience will
appreciate you more if you have something worthwhile to impart and can make
the ideas interesting and accessible more than ifyou try to be a standup comedian.

In most groups, if you are not particularly arrogant, hostile, or provocative, the
audience will be anxious for you to succeed. Believe in your ability to share some-
thing worthwhile with them and focus on your message, not yourself Use writing
strategies such as analogies, comparisons, and rhetorical questions, to relate to the
audience and increase their interest. Relate your material to the interests and age
level of the group.

Though you are talking to a group, they do not perceive themselves as a webbed
assembly; each one listens as an individual. To avoid the "preachy" effect or the old-
school, sing-song, artificial effect, do not change your voice and tone significantly.
Ofcourse, you should put more energy into your voice for the larger space (project
more); but speak sincerely as you would to one person.

If you look at the people, seeking eye contact, you will be able to monitor their
reception of your presentation. Then you can clarifY a point if they look puzzled,
move faster ifthey seem impatient, and, ifthey look bewildered, stop and ask ques-
tions. Looking for the signals from them will also take your focus off of yourself
Believe it or not, people are interested in themselves, so appeal to their interests
whenever possible.

Though you are urged to focus on your message, be aware that there are distracting
body signals.
                                                CHAPTER II: Oral Presentations   127

• Ifthe audience perceives you as an insecure person, or a doubt-ridden person,
  they will not believe you no matter how important your message is.
• Ifyou stand tall, you will exude confidence, which the audience will interpret
  as credibility.
• Ifyou fidget, the audience will think you can't wait to be out ofthere and
  they will feel the same.       .
• Ifyou don't look at the people in the audience, they will feel unimportant
  and unnecessary to you and they will stop listening.
• Ifyou slouch and lean and are generally sloppy, they may lose respect for you
  and your ideas.

• Speak with force and conviction as though you expect your hearers will stand
  up and talk back to you.
• Believe you can be successful and avoid the negative, both in your message
  and in your estimation ofyour abilities.
• Try to move about and address your visual aid Moving about will break up
  the tension that can build up when you are uncomfortable, and the audience
  will be able to follow you with their eyes. Natural and appropriate gestures
  are also welcome.

• Eat protein about two hours ahead to control your blood sugar (to avoid
  feeling faint, etc.).
•   Eat sparingly.
•   Avoid greasy food, alcohol, too much caffeine, and tranquilizers.
•   Prepare your clothes ahead of time and dress neatly.
•   Arrive early to prepare the room as you want it.
•   Have fresh air in the room.
•   Ifpossible group the audience together rather than scattering them out - i.e.,
    try to control the seating unless the auditorium is full.
• Stand in front ofthe furniture when possible.
Exercises to remove tension:
• Tighten and relax neck and face muscles, squeezing up all the tension and
  then letting it all hang and sag.
• Do yoga head and neck exercises: head rolls and head drops backwards and
• "Stretch tall and condense small," sitting or standing.
128 PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

Use primary or secondary (library) research to answer one ofthe following
questions. Write out the information in two to three pages. Present your findings
in a three-to-four minute oral presentation, using some form ofvisual aid.
a. How is steel anodized?
b. What makes a river suitable for harnessing as a hydroelectric source?
c. Has anyone designed a computer not based on the binary system?
d. Do you need line-of-sight transmission for AM, FM, TV; shortwave radio?
e. What is the current status of Pascal in computer use? For what purpose?
£ Why do some catalytic converters smell worse than straight exhaust?
g. What does a turbocharger do?
h. What is the best colour for a computer monitor?
1.   Why is the east coast ofNorth America so much colder than the west coast at
     the same latitudes?
J. How does a UNIX system differ from a DOS system?
k. What methods are there for desalinating sea water?
1. How do roofsolar cells heat a house?
m. What is eutrophication?

The nature and purpose of a report will dictate its content. One can omit or add
sections when necessary, within the guidelines set out in this chapter.
  With regard to format, the layout is important in reports. Use artistic taste and
discretion, keeping the bulk of the black above the centre line. Position the head-
ings for each section carefully to avoidconfUsion between one part ofthe report and
another. Do not overdo use of the wizardry of the modern computer features with
too many typeface changes, bolds, and scalable fonts. The effect is like too much
cheap jewelry.
  It is also important to use a practical and consistent numbering system for the
headings in your report. The topic is discussed later in this chapter.

The following is the standard content ofa full report.
• Preliminary material                          ./
   • Letter ofTransmittal (or Executive Summ'!!.Y)
   •   Title Page
   •   Executive Summary (instead of or in conjunction with a letter oftransmittal)
   •   Table ofContents
   •   List of Illustrations
   •   Glossary ofTerms and/or Abbreviations
• Body ofthe report
   •   Introduction/Objective/Description of Problem
   •   Background or Rationale
   •   Site Description
   •   Discussion:
       • Methodology-                                .
       • Limitations ~                 g ~
       • Results/Findings
   • Conclusions

130 PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

    • Implications
    • Recommendations
• Additional material
  • Appendixes (tables and charts not included in the body of the report;
    theories; resumes, etc.)
    • Bibliography
    • Personnel Data (normally appear only in proposal submissions)
  An infOrmal report, on the other hand, might be in simple memo form; but then
again, it might be a thick document in full cerlux or hot melt (Unibind) binding.
Informal reports omit many ofthe components ofa full report. The following may
be all that is necessary:
• Title Page
• Summary
• Introduction
•   Background
•   Discussion
•   Methodology
•   Conclusions/Recommendations
The contents ofspecific reports will be presented later in this chapter.

Preliminary Material
The letter oftransmittal is one page con .. a esc I                    ofthe report
plus a briefstatement of the conclusions that can be attached in front ofor directly
under the cover of a report. Or the information can be incorporated as a half-page
executive summary inserted directly after the title page. Ifyou want to ensure that
the letter oftransmittal does not become separated from the report, bind it into the
front of the report under the cover.
   The purpose of the Transmittal Letter, or of the Executive Summary, is to
acquaint the top executives with the nature of the report and what the results have
been. Very often the chief officers do not have the time to read all the reports
receiy:ed by the company or the government department, and they will hand the
report off to another person who is more involved in the project or program; but
they do want to be informed of its content. Consequently, the writing ofthe execu-
tive summary/letter is very importantas it may be the onlypart ofthe report that is read
by the decision-making directors.
  The transmittalletterlexecutive summary is written after the report is finished,
even though it appears first.
• First, briefly describe the content ofthe report.
• Second, acknowledge any assistance given in doing the work or preparing
  the report.
                                                             CHAPTER 12: Reports     131

• Third, inform the client briefly ofthe bottom-lin~recommendation.
• Fourth, thank the client for the work and offer other services.
See Chapter 8 on letters of transmittal and executive summaries, and the example
that was given in Figure 8-1.

The title page will give:
•   The title ofthe report
•   Who the report was prepared for
•   The project number
•   Who prepared the report (person or company)
• Thedate

This will list the contents in the order in which they will be found in the report,
using the engineering numbering conventions described later in this chapter.

This often completes the table of contents page. If either the table of contents or
the list of illustrations is too long, the list of illustrations is put on a separate page
following the table of contents.

When writing for readers who are not professionals in the same field, it is necessary
to define the terms used in the report that are unique to the field you are in. This is
especially true for government engineers or private engineering firms who are writ-
ing reports for the elected officials or the civil servants ofa government body.
   A glossary may be titled "Nomenclature" in reports prepared by government
   Some engineers place the glossary at the beginning so that the reader can find the
terms necessary to understand the report before he or she even starts to read it. This
is especially important when writing reports for nontechnical readers. For instance,
concept reports, which tell the client what the project will provide, need glossaries,
since many of the terms the reader may think he or she knows will have a different
meaning in the context ofengineering.
   Some glossaries may simply identifY abbreviations:
    BOD Biochemical Oxygen Demand or the amount of oxygen required to
    oxidize a given amount of organics in a waste liquid.
    MPN Most Probable Number.
    ENR Engineering News Record.
132 PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

Body of the Report
The introduction may consist of the objective in some reports, especially short
reports. Or the introduction may be a problem statement.
  The purpose of the introduction is to tell the reader the subject and thepl..IEP(.l§~1
ofthe report. It may be onlya paragraph long:
      This report provides information on customizing the Network Control Program
      (NCP). Customizing NCP means modifying it to enhance support for certain sta-
      tions or to provide support for stations that are not currently supported by the
      IBM-supplied programs. Customization can also include rewriting programmed
      Systems Network Architecture (SNA) resources that reside in the communication

The.R~ckgrpundis usually historical in nature. You give the reader the necessary
information for .him or her to understand the nature of the current problem:
•     How the problem occurred
III   What other action has been taken in the past
'!    What failures h~~e occurred in the project
III   What steps have been taken to correct them
Sometimes the background is a subheading of the discussion section (see ahead).

The site description will include a map or drawing with blowups ofthe area in qu~s­
tion. In the written part, you will include the following factors:
•     The location ofthe site in the large~ context - the state, province, country
•     Features of the terrain that make the site particularly suitable
•     Unique features ofthe.buildings and services for the facilities
•     The geological, vegetative, and structural details
•     Features that may present problems on the project
•     Features that will make the resolution ofthe problem different from that of
      other installations ofthe same type
The climate ofthe site is also valuable information in any engineering report.
  See the excerpt from a site description at the end ofthe "Description" section of
Chapter 3.

The tf,iscussion presents the outline of the optiqns available to resolve the problem
and includes all the factors that will have a bearing on the decisions necessary to do
so. (Often there are a number of subheadings to the discussion section that are
determined by the subject md scope of the report.) The discussion will include all
theories that bear on the subject. For instance, in a discussion ofa sewage treatment
                                                           CHAPTER 12: Reports     133

plant you will give an explanation of the current sewage treatment theories, and
assess any peculiarities of the site that preclude application of any ofthese theories.

The content of the methodology section will depend on the type of report. If it is a
• Describe the different factors that have an impact on the study.
• IdentifY the theories and the names ofthe authors of the theories you use.
If it is an analysis:
• Describe the methods you used to conduct your analysis.
, IdentifY the equipment used.
• Describe the scales ofmeasurement.
.. Explain what criteria you have imposed on the data.

You will include the limitations ofthe methods you have used and the limitations of
the measurements and instrumentation you have used. Also, in this section you
describe any external obstacles to your intentions, i.e., a backhoe on the site where
you wanted to test the subsoil or machinery operating in the vicinity where you
were testing for interference. In some analysis and forecast reports you give the fac-
tors that will limit the usefulness ofyour predictions.

You report any measurements and observations that you have made, including
explanatory graphs and charts. Ifthe readings, tables, charts, and graphs are exten-
sive, you can put them all in an appendix.
   You will also present the interpretation ofthe results of your measurements and

The conclusions present the basis for the recommendations. You relate the results of
YOur investigations to the needs of the project, and explain the significance of the
findings. You describe the solutions that are available to the client based on your
study. The conclusions section will often set out the cost factors of the results.

Implications are particularly important in government projects. The purpose ofthe
implications section is to present the repercussions pf implementing the recom-
mendations or installing a facility. Implications often include costs, such as how
much a capital repair project will cost over a specified time period. You should out-
line the impact your conclusions or recommendations will have:
•   On other levels ofgovernment
•   On the populace
134 PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

• On the environment
• On the tax rate
• On other government programs

The recommendations reflect the best solution, method, or plan that follows direct-
ly ar';.d logically from the conclusions. There should not be any surprises at this
point (or any other point). The recommended course of action should be 'very
clear. In many cases, the recommended methods of financing are also included in
this section (for example, the water rate to be relayed to the rate payer, etc.).

Additional Material
Appendixes are sections of information attached separately at the end of the report.
1. An appendix may include lengthy tabulations of readings, survey results,
   calculations, tables, charts, formulas, maps, or letters that are relative and
   necessary to the discussion of the report and that cannot be added cohesively
   into the report or will interfere with easy comprehension of the text.
2. An appendix may also include other reference material referred to in the report
   but which the reader may not have easy access to, such as excerpts from theo-
   retical references, or new research.
3. An appendix may also include explanatory materia/for readers not familiar
   with some ofthe technical material, defining terms or explaining scientific or
   engineering theories that have been applied.
Generally speaking, any material the writer feels would confuse or interrupt the
reading of the report can be put into an appendix. Ofcourse, reference is made to
this material in the body ofthe report. Appendixes are usually titled "Appendix A,"
''Appendix B," and so on, with a subtitle indicating their contents.

Any theories or information that you have used from other sources, books, or experts
must be listed here. The Bibliography might also be titled "Works Cited" or "Sources
ofInformation." (See the section "Documenting Your Sources" in Chapter 4.)

Usually the personneldata are only included in proposal submissions. (See Chapter
9 for a full discussion.)

Numbering systems for the headintJ of your reports can take several forms, using
numbers, letters, or combinations of numbers and letters. For most engineering
purposes the numerical decimal system is used. This system obviates the possibili-
ty of ambiguous references, since there will only be one "section 4.3.2" and it will
be clear where it occurs in the document - after 4.3.1 and before 4.3.3.
                                                        CHAPTER 12: Reports 135

  When several people have a hand in preparing a report, the numbering systems
used may conflict. This should be corrected.
  Main headings usually beginat the top of a new page. In some cases, the sub-
headings are indented; in others all the headings and subheadings start at the left
margin. The headings will be capitalized, underlined, or typed in bold type, but
they must decline in prominence with each level ofsubheading. All headings of the
same level must be consistent in style throughout. There is no punctuation after a
heading in modern practice. Ordinarily you cannot have just one subheading in
any section (except in some specification documents). Instead of:
   K 1.2 Application software
          1.2.1 Concept
      1.3 Field applications

use the following approach:
  ,/ 1.2 Application software concept
      1.3 Field applications
   Some documents use an indented numbering system in the table of contents
even though the report has all the numbers positioned flush left. Proofany finished
document carefully for consistent, compatible numbering to avoid the inconsis-
tencies that arise when information from old reports and documents, or docu-
ments written by other people, is inserted into the new document.
   In an attempt to encourage standardization of numbering systems, the sugges-
tions in Table 12-1 are offered as guidelines for report styles. Figure 12-1 shows
another accepted style.

Flush Left Version                       Indented Version
1. HEADING                               1. HEADING
2. HEADING                               2. HEADING
2.1 Subheading                           2.1 Subheading
2.1.1 Subsubheading                          .1 Subsubheading
2.1.2 Subsubheading                          .2 Subsubheading
2.1.3 Subsubheading                          .3 Subsubheading
3. HEADING                               3. HEADING
4. HEADING                               4. HEADING
4.1 Subheading                           4.1 Subheading
4.1.1 Subsubheading                          .1 Subsubheading
4.1.2 Subsubheading                          .2 Subsubheading
5. HEADING                               5. HEADING
5.1 Subheading                           5.1 Subheading
5.1.1 Subsubheading                          .1 Subsubheading
(Up to 6 digits)
136 PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

3.1.1 Multieffect Multistage Flash Distillation (MEMS)
      MEMS is similar to Multistage Flash Distillation, but adds more stages for each tempera-
      ture interval by recycling the single circular path into several circulating loops. The recy-
      cling of the water helps provide greater efficiency and economy than an MSF plant. An
      MEMS plant is presently in use in San Diego and produces approximately I million gallons
      per day (MGD).
3.1.2 Vapour Compression Distillation (YC)
      VC has two chambers, each called an effect. In each effect brine is pumped upward and
      heated by steam. Some brine vapourizes into steam which heats the other effect. The
      steam condenses when it releases heat to the brine and can be collected as fresh water.
      Vapour from the second effect is the original heat source and gains energy from a com-
      pressor. The compressor compresses the steam, increasing the pressure and the temper-
      ature. Chemicals are used to prevent the salts in the brine from solidifying due to the high
      temperatures in the VCs. (See Figure 8.)
3.2.1 Reverse Osmosis (RO)
      Reverse Osmosis forces sea water through a membrane leaving the salt behind and releas-
      ing fresh water. The membranes usually consist of a flexible plastic film 4 to 6 mils in thick-
      ness (I mil = 0.001 inch). Most membranes consist of a cellulose acetate compound.
      Chemicals must be added to lower the impurity level of from 35,000-40,000 ppm to an
      acceptable level, for the membranes, of 2000-4000 ppm (ppm: parts per million). A
      Reverse Osmosis process requires more maintenance than the distillation methods, rais-
      ing the costs of operations. Hollow Fibre (HF)
              HF uses thin-fibre membranes about I - 10 mils in diameter. These fibres can with-
              stand high pressures, reducing the need for a support mechanism. The container is
              sealed at one end and sea water is forced through the fibres and out the other end.
              Fresh water collects in the fibres and flows out the sealed end. HF is the most eco-
              nomical of the Reverse Osmosis processes, as a large membrane surface area can
              be used. Spiral-Wound Membrane Module (SWM)
              SWM uses a membrane wound into a spiral unit. Sea water passes on the outside
              surface of the unit and is forced through the membrane. The centre of the unit col-
              lects fresh water. Tubular
              This process uses membranes pressed against the inside of a porous tube. Pressur-
              ized salt water is forced through the tube and fresh water seeps out the porous pipe.
3.2.2 Electrodialysis
      Electrodialysis uses two different membranes and electricity to remove the salt from sea
      water. One membrane only allows the passage of NA+ ions, and the other only allows CI-
      ions to pass through. The electrodes in the sea water attract the charged ions through the
      membranes, leaving fresh water between the membranes. The high energy required for
      this process does not make it very economical, with prices over $12 per 1000 gallons of
      fresh water.
                                                         CHAPTER 12: Reports    137

  Sometimes, in less formal reports or proposals and in other types of technical
writing, combinations of letters and numbers are used. The headings will be less
dominant moving down each level of subheading and the paragraphs are often
smaller with each indentation. See Table 12-2 for two different systems.

Upper and Lowercase                       Numbers and
Letters and Numbers                       Lowercase Letters
A. HEADING                                1.0 HEADING
B.HEADING                                 2.0 HEADING
   1. SUBHEADING                          2.1 SUBHEADING
   2. SUBHEADING                          2.2 SUBHEADING
     (a) Subsubheading                        a) Subsubheading
     (b) Subsubheading                        b) Subsubheading
         i. Subsubsubheading                     (l) Subsubsubheading
         ii. Subsubsubheading                    (2) Subsubsubheading

Note: Specification document numbering varies from the systems in Tables 12-1
and 12-2. See Chapter 13 on specification documents.

Concept Report (Project Brief)
The concept report is concerned with meeting the expectations of the client. It is a
statement of what the project's form, features, options, and costs are intended to
be. It serves as a checkpoint, allowing the client to make changes, with reassurances
that his or her expectations will be met.
   Note: Unlike the proposal, which describes the services the engineer or the engi-
neering firm could provide in order to get the job, the concept report (or project
brief), written by the engineers who do get the job, is an informative first-stage or
preliminary design report outlining the ideas behind theproject.
   For instance, here is an excerpt from a proposal presentation for a highway
overpass: "We will design the highway overpass, provide drawings, structural
details, and specification documents, and adjudicate the tendered bids." The con-
cept report, on the other hand, will state whether it will have a ramp approach suit-
able for bikes or wheelchairs or be strictly a lightweight pedestrian walkway with
steps; whether it will be high enough above the road to accommodate overheight
trucks or transportation ofhouses; what the width will be; and other details of the
construction materials and dimensions. Ifthe engineer did not get the right message
about the project initially, and the client actually intended the walkway to be suit-
138 PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

able for horses to cross to a nearby racetrack, this will be brought out before the
detailed design is developed.
  The concept report will form the basis of the finished design.

A concept report follows the general report format, with adjustments for the
special needs ofthe project:
•   Introduction Provide a clear description of the purpose ofthe design or
•   Construction or design schedule Give dates for the different phases:
    predesign, design, construction, testing.
•   Design limits State what the design will and will not include, clarifYing your
    understanding of the client's needs.
•   Facilities State the scope ofthe project and the features that will be included;
    for example:
    The heating and cooling system will serve all areas except the workshop,
    the chlorine storage room, and the chlorinator rooms. These areas will have
    hot-water unit heaters.
•   Estimates of costs Estimate the overall cost - the design, materials, and
    labour costs to be expected.
•   Conclusions Indicate that the detailed design will be based on the concepts
    stated in the report. Ask for any additions and revisions from the client and
    users and specifY the latest date for any revision submissions.
Note: Often the concept report is directed toward the reader who is not an engineer
- an elected official, a civil servant in any level of government, or even a
public citizen who wishes to protest the project. Consequently, it must be written
very clearly for both the engineer and the intelligent reader who is not necessarily
informed on the technical side.

Evaluation Reports, Analysis Reports
Evaluation reports, analysis reports, and forecasts depend on analytical skills; There
may sometimes be an element ofpersuasion involved, which should result from the
facts you present. Analysis and evaluation procedures are a large part ofmost engi-
neering work requiring comprehensive criteria and clear reportorial and graphical
   The general format ofthese reports is as follows:
•   Introduction What the report is all about.
• Background/Discussion, ifany.
• Methodology Outline the evaluation criteria used:
  • Conditions such as weather, terrain, humidity ofeach location visited
  • Sketch of tested site or materials
  • What was done and what equipment was used
                                                         CHAPTER 12: Reports      139

• Observations The numbers, calculations, and measurements. Tables and
  graphs ofpertinent information.
• Limitations of measurements and limitations.
• Results Your analysis based on the criteria, usually in a table or a graph of
  comparative readings comparing expected results and those measured.
• Conclusions/Recommendations Do the figures corroborate or refute the
• Implications F~r government, the environment, and the community.
• Appendix The actual field measurements or analysis readings.

• Some evaluation reports are similar to the recommendation/study type of
  report covered later in this chapter, but evaluation reports are generally on a
  more specific subject. For instance, instead ofstudying the need for a bridge at
  a particular site, the evaluation report might evaluate three different methods
  of bridge construction for a site that has already been selected.
• An evaluation report might evaluate several computer network systems for an
  industrial facility or government ministry.
• Some evaluation reports deal with proposals made to government departments
  by engineers employed by the government.
• Some evaluation reports deal with the quality of a contractor's work or the
  merit ofengineering firms in related disciplines.
• Some evaluation reports deal with rate-change applications by utilities such as
  telephone and power companies.
  In government services, engineers must prepare evaluation reports on proposals
submitted to the government. These are done much like a lab report with recom-
mendations. You must:
•   IdentifY the subject ofthe proposal
•   Set out the criteria for the analytical evaluation
•   Discuss how the proposal meets or fails to meet the criteria imposed
•   Present your recommendation
•   Outline the implications to government if the proposal is accepted or rejected
    - perhaps the most important aspect ofa government evaluation
  Fundamental to all evaluation reports is the construction of a set ofcriteria on
which to baseyour evaluation. For instance, if you were to evaluate three methods of
bridge construction, some ofyour criteria would be:
• The suitability ofthe methods to the climatic conditions and to the geological
• The capacity ofeach method to support the structure needed
• The availability of materials to the site for each of the three types of bridge
140 PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

There are several types of analysis reports:
• Government analyses of community services needs Ifa municipality wants
  X-ray surveys conducted on utility pipes, the engineer would conduct the
  surveys, report on the results, recommend what would be necessary to repair
  the system, and outline the implications ofsuch repairs as a capital project
  over a certain number ofyears. The engineer would be responsible for analyz-
  ing the financial, economic, and social implications for the administration.
• Government analyses of industrial applications If a utility commission wants
  to put in a new power plant or other installation, the engineer must analyze
  the impact ofthat plant on alternative plans to the rates. Much ofthe govern-
  ment analysis is concerned with the financial repercussions and the increased
  financial load that will be passed on to the taxpayer.
• Analyses ofsystems and loads for purposes offorecasting, as is done by the
  utilities companies The above utility commission would need reliable
  forecasts ofload requirements in order to supply the necessary services to the
  public, and these would be based on analysis reports of past and current
  usage. For instance, a hydro company will make seasonal and annual analyses
  ofsubstation power demands. These reports will then be used to compile a
  reliable forecast to prepare for the coming one-to-five-year power demands.
The report will be in "short report" form, and probably in memo form, with the
subject clearly stated in a subject line (underlined, in bold, or in capitals):
   Subject: Winter Peak 1991-92 Preliminary Analysis of Calgary Substation
and it will include the following:
• Weather conditions for the period A brief description of the weather,
  stating the lowest mean temperature readings, the comparative 30-year
  average, and an estimate ofthe standard deviation from that average
• Method used (analysis criteria) A description ofthe analytical methods
  used to find the "normalized" peak demand for each substation, and a state-
  ment of the overall effect ofthe normalizing procedure
• Readings Charts of the actual and the normalized substation readings, and
  the effect ofnormalizing for the most recent season and for the previous years
• Analysis of the readings The significance ofthe various changes relative to
  the previous predictions, and the limitations ofthe readings

Engineers in both government and industry are required to make forecasts. Essen-
tially, these must be based on analytical procedures. The engineer must look first at
the past figures and the factors that contributed to those figures. Then he or she
must observe and question what will currently affect the figures and extrapolate the
probable scenario into the future.
   Generally a forecast will include these headings:
• Subject Statement ofthe forecast subject
                                                         CHAPTER 12: Reports    141

• Basis of Forecast
  • Previous actual figures or loads, usually at least five years back
  • Analysis of circumstances that contributed to variations from the levels
    predicted in the previous forecast
  • Predictable factors to be considered
  • Method ofdetermining the forecast
• Forecast for Year 19- Most utilities forecast a year ahead but many forecasts
  must also include the long range
  • Charts or graphs ofextrapolations
• Limitations
  • Sources oferror in the method
  • Environmental influences
• Impact
  • On staff, office arrangements, or anticipated travel needs
  • On long-range (five-year) plans
  • On the budget
• Recommendations When necessary as a result ofthe forecast or called for in
  ex.!!9-0·      i

.-'Recommendation Reports an. Study Reports
The recommendation reportis al        always written for nonengineers. The purpose
      e re      .    . rm e decision-makers - executives who need informed
solutions from informed engineers - to enable them to make intelligent decisions.
Therefore the onus is on the engineer to become informed on the subject as com-
pletely as possible, from literature on the subject, from experts in the field, from
other installations and solutions in other cities and countries. He or she must be
skilled in research andproblem-solving.
  For example, if a government engineer has been assigned the responsibility for
conducting public hearings on a public highway project, he or she would set up the
hearings, attend the hearings, and make comprehensive notes on the proceedings.
He or she would then write a report to the deputy minister on the results. The rec-
ommendations made will be the basis for any action the government will take.

The going-for-content stage will be the focus of any recommendation report or
study. As outlined in the section on generating content in Chapter 4, you collect as
much information as possible: phone suppliers who may know ofnewer materials,
scientific journals on the subject, universities and research centres, and everybody
who has anything to do with the project or subject - environmentalists, conserva-
tionists, public works people. Cluster for Jateral ideas to expand your viewpoint
beyond the obvious approach.
   Since every report answers a new problem, the layouts and formats of headings
are always determined by the subject.
   Essentially the study must:
1. Define the problem(s)
142 PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

• Letter of Transmittal The information that would be included·
  (I page) (See the section earlier in this chapter on preliminary mat!-..,,~ _ _.
•   Title Page
•   Chart of the Officials of the Regional Board for whom the study was written
•   Table of Contents (1/2 page) /lIIustrations (1/2 page)
•   Abbreviations Glossary of abbreviations used in the report

• Introduction (I page)
  • What the study is
  • Who authorized the study
  • Physical area covered by the study - villages, cities, etc.
  • Who provided the background information and scientific data
  • General purpose and scope of the study
• Characteristics of the Area (3 pages, I map of the terrain, and I chart)
  • Delineation of service area
  • Number of houses, population, acreage
  • Distance of conveyance of sewage for different treatments (includes a map and charts of
    sewage plant sizes)
  • Topography - favourable and unfavourable characteristics
  • Geology - favourable to specific types of treatment
  • Existing sewerage facilities
  • Population, current and predicted
• Sewage Treatment and Disposal Information for members of the regional board not
  knowledgeable on the subject
  • Sewage composition (5 pages)
  • Detailed sewage methods currently favoured
  • Degree of treatment
  • Methods of treatment
• Design Criteria (4 pages and I chart)
  • Design period
  • Sewage quantity and quality; average, peak flow conditions, storms
  • Costs - sanitary sewers (charts of construction costs), pumping stations, peak flow and
    community sewers
• Sewerage Plans (5 pages and one 2-page map)
  • Plan A - extensive discussion of collection stages, aeration, and interception treatment with
    maps, and outline of both capital and operating costs
  • Plan B- similar extensive discussion with outline of costs
  • Comparison of long-range plans (8 pages and one 2-page map)
  • Apportionment of cost
  • Stage construction (phases)
• Conclusions/Recommendations (3 pages of 20 numbered points) Note: There should
  never be any surprises in the Conclusions/Recommendations. The report should logically
  reach your conclusions.
                                                          CHAPTER 12: Reports     143

2. Present theories and precedents
3. Indicate the factors that preclude or validate the theories
4. Discuss other installations or treatments that are applicable and give the
   merits ofeach situation

   Figure 12-2 shows the format of a 28-page sewerage study. An example of
a study report on desalination, written for a district water board in clear, clean
language suitable for the members of the board to understand, can be found in

1. Assess the implications for government, individuals, the workforce, business,
   health care, the environment, communications, international economics (or
   any other group), ofthe following developments:
   • Video telephones                     • Downscaling the military
   • Lack ofpotable water                 • Limits on the use of newsprint
Numbering Conventions
2. Reorganize one ofyour previous assignments (proposal, report, letter, or memo),
   breaking the material into suitable headings and subheadings. Number the
   headings appropriately and use a suitable print style with each level.
Concept Report
3. Write a concept report on one ofthe proposals you wrote in Chapter 8.
Evaluation!Analysis Report
4. Evaluate individual car ownership as a means of transportation in your city.
   What criteria will you employ?
   • Financial concerns                  • Individual concerns
   • Civic (community) concerns          • Environmental concerns
   What alternatives are there (shared ownership, skateboards, subways/buses,
   summer rental only, bicycles, scooters, etc.)?
5. Write a shott analysis report on your car (or your family or friend's car) as an
   automotive specimen. State subject clearly.
   a. Describe the car.
   b. Give the history ofthe car (accidents?).
   c. Outline your criteria: Excellent/average/poor features? Disadvantages/
      advantages? Expensive/cheap? Useful in the city? Farm? Highway?
      Student transportation? Recycled metal?
144 PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

 6. Investigate the institutional analysis department ofyour university or college.
    Find out how many students have registered in each engineering department
    (electrical, computer, mechanical) each year for the past 10 years and how
    many have graduated from each ofthose earlier five or six classes.
       Consider what factors account for the variations in graduates from one
    program to another - co-op program support, government loans available,
    baby boomers, difficult course programs, etc. Then forecast how many will
    register and graduate in the next two or three years.
       Follow the format outlined in this chapter and provide the limitations of
    the forecast and the factors or new trends that may change the figures (more
    female students, decreased employment opportunities, immigrant engineers
    from offshore, reduced scholarship money, etc.).
 7. Forecast the fUture popularity ofcomputer drive systems (such as DOS or
    UNIX) based on research of users on your campus.
Study or Recommendation Report
 8. Make a study of car emission control systems (include a chart). Report on the
    different emission control systems currently used in the car industry. Some
    are objectionably smelly - are they less polluting? What are the current
    industry regulations? Determine the criteria for comparison purposes and
    organize clearly.
       Use an informal report format.
 9. Write a recommendation report on one ofthe following:
    a. A suitable computer for an engineering student's needs
    b. A suitable printer for a student's computer
    c. Suitable transportation for students' needs
Analysis Report or Technical Article
10. Computer models have predicted serious changes in the atmosphere due to
    many different air pollutants, and there are continuing conflicts over the true
    significance ofthese predictions. Richard Lindzen ofMIT is a noted critic
    ofglobal warming predictions, believing increased atmospheric convection
    would increase water vapour and decredSe the greenhouse effect. However,
    Michael McElroy of Harvard University has held that water vapour may
    actually amplifY global warming.
       The generally accepted computer model predictions for a temperate region
    like the Pacific Northwest indicate (1988) that:
    winters will be shorrer and milder with a significant increase in mean winter
    temperature, and the summers will be longer and drier. ...

       Analyze the readings shown in Tables 12-3 and 12-4 to corroborate or
    refUte these greenhouse predictions for the Pacific Northwest. Write a shorr
    report (minimum three-page memo) or newsletter article, presenting your
    introduction, methodology, observations, conclusions, and limitations of
    analysis. Include graphs.
                                                    CHAPTER 12: Reports    145

                                                                30-Year Avg.
         '85    '86    '87    '88    '89     '90      '91    '92 (1951-80)
Jan.     19.0 207.0 127.9 88.3 104.2        200.8    113.5 228.4          154.3
Feb.     77.6 158.8 65.2 35.5 68.1          120.1    128.2 96.5            99.2
Mar.     56.2 56.0 77.9 122.6 100.4          58.0     66.5 23.8            71.7
Apr.     45.3 33.3 51.2 63.4 39.2            64.2     95.7 59.8            39.3
May      31.0 63.4 38.4 41.8 40.1            45.0     25.4 15.4            28.5
June     34.2 11.3    9.6 29.2 22.6          44.9     19.2 43.4            29.0
July      1.4 18.8 13.0    7.0 11.4           4.4     35.1 37.8            18.1
Aug.     12.8   0.0 11.4 27.8 36.0           40.8     75.6 13.2            26.7
Sep.      7.5 22.4    1.8 50.0   2.2         15.4      0.0 13.3            39.6
Oct.    126.9 35.2 13.6 80.0 44.2            97.0     32.4 86.8            78.4
Nov.     74.0 160.0 71.0 162.6 97.0         270.6    178.9 110.0          130.8
Dec.     22.9 73.2 175.7 114.6 110.2        177.2    106.6 80.7           157.3
TOTALS 508.8 839.4 656.7 822.8 675.6 1138.4 877.1 809.1                   872.9

                                                                30-Year Avg.
         '85    '86    '87    '88    '89     '90      '91    '92 (1951-80)
Jan.      2.4    5.9    4.3    3.7    3.4     4.6      2.5    5.9           3.1
Feb.      3.6    3.9    6.4    5.4    0.1     3.2      7.3    6.9           4.8
Mar.      5.3    7.6    7.0    6.4    4.9     6.5      5.5    9.0           5.7
Apr.      8.3    7.6    9.5    8.9   10.6     9.8      8.4   10.1           8.4
May      11.5   11.4   12.4   11.4   11.9    11.4     11.5   13.3          11.5
June     14.2   15.1   14.9   13.7   15.1    14.3     13.2   16.4          14.3
July     17.5   15.3   16.2   16.3   15.9    17.8     16.4   16.9          16.3
Aug.     16.3   17.7   16.5   15.9   15.5    17.2     16.4   16.2          16.1
Sep.     13.3   14.0   14.8   12.8   14.7    14.4     14.5   12.9          13.9
Oct.     10.0   10.5   10.9   10.5    9.6     8.8      9.2   10.5           9.9
Nov.      0.7    6.4    7.4    6.7    7.0     6.6      6.9    6.6           6.0
Dec.      2.5    4.2    3.4    4.6    5.4     1.8      5.7    3.0           4.2
AVG.      7.5   10.0   10.3    9.7    9.5     9.7      9.8   10.6           9.5
        Specification Documents and
        Project Management Reports

Primarily, the success of tender documents comes down to prudent thinking:
• Think each step ofthe construction, operation, and maintenance procedures
  through very carefully.
• Think from the owner's and user's point ofview.
   For instance, if you are creating a computer hardware system for an industrial
plant, consider the purpose of the plant, how the owners want the plant to func-
tion, and who the operators will be when the system is installed. Ifthe system is in
heavy industry, you will want buttons that can be activated by operators with
gloves on. If the system is situated where there are regular sprinkler system emer-
gencies, you will want the system waterproofed.
   Research previous jobs of a similar nature to find out the major problems that
have come up, and specify procedures and failsafe materials to avoid the previous
difficulties. Think carefully of every area where shortcuts could possibly be taken
in construction and product quality and write the specification in a way that will
prevent any loss of quality. Your design depends on quality fabrication and

These documents are written for the contractor, engineering firm, or supplier that
wants to bid on a job or project. For example, if a new sports complex is being
built, separate specification documents will be put together by the engineers for the
construction of the pools, for the electrical systems, for the air conditioning sys-
tems, for the mechanical systems, for the communication systems, and so on. The
bidders must make out a price/bid on the basis of the specifications in the tender
document and they are committed to meeting the quality ofworkmanship and mate-
rials specified in the documents ifthey win the bid.
   Tender documents are fairly standard, though many corporations have their
own guidelines.

           CHAPTER 13: Specification Documents and Project Management Reports 147

General Outline of Specification Documents
• Tidepage
• Index to specifications This is the index that indicates where each section
  is located, similarly to a table of contents. The preliminary section will
  include the Invitation to Tender, the Instructions to Bidders, the Tender
  Form, Bond Forms, Standard Construction Document, and Supplementary
  General Conditions.
      Then there are standard numbered sections assigned to the different
  contributors to a project. These are generally in the order in which the work is
  performed. Consequently, the site preparation section is the 02000 section, the
  carpentry section is the 06000 section, the mechanical section is the 15000
  section (which will include, for instance, the plumbing section as 15400), and
  the electrical section is the 16000 section (which will include all the electrical
  systems such as the basic wiring and devices as 16100 and the fire alarm system
  as 16500).
      In the preliminary material, the Invitation to Tender page would be
  presented as in Figure 13-l.
     The Instructions to Bidders explains to the bidders the conditions under
  which they are bidding and sets out the amount required in the bid bond, the
  performance bond, and the labour and materials security payment.


• Body There are three parts to the body ofa specification document: the
  General Conditions, the Products, and the Execution.
148 PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

  • General Conditions Describe the scope and function ofthe system, as
    required by the client. Some documents include an overview section, and
    some include a site description when such information is relevant to the
    bidder's needs.
       Since the General Conditions (GC) are similar for most jobs, in 1982
    the Canadian Construction Documents Committee (CCDC), using the
    architects' and engineers' common law and civil law tender requirements,
    updated the General Conditions ofthe standard edition of the Stipulated
    Price Contract, which everyone in the industry is familiar with. (A copy of
    this item can be obtained from The Secretary, Canadian Construction
    Documents Committee, 85 Albert Street, 10th Floor, Ottawa, Ontario
    KIP 6A4.) This code is referred to as the CCDC 21982. There are
    numbered clauses in this document, and ifwhen you used it one or two
    ofyour conditions varied from this document you would state:
     The General Conditions governing the Contract shall be the CCDC 2 /982,
     except that GC32 [the section on payment] will be replaced by [your own
       Some corporations disagree with several ofthe CCDC 2 1982 conditions,
    however, and continue to issue their own general conditions.
       Figure 13-2 gives an example of a "General Conditions - Electrical"
  • Products This is a clause-by-clause identification of all the products to be
    used on the project, often specifying the names ofone, two, or three manu-
    facturers who can provide the products with the technical specifications
    required. So ifyou needed lamps, you would specify the catalogue number
    of the bulb, the size, the wattage, the colour, and the number ofbulbs

         CHAPTER 13: Specification Documents and Project Management Reports   149

       For example, in a detailed specification for a council chamber sound
    system you may find the list shown in Figure 13-3.


       In cases in which there are a great many similar products, or when the
    "spec" is a performance spec in which the bidder will have to specifY all the
    products to meet the requirements ofthe system, the engineer won't name
    the exact equipment. For example, see the excerft from a performance spec-
    ification for the seismic requirements of a schoo shown in Figure 13-4.

I SO PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

  • Execution This third section will itemize how the work is to be done; it is
    perhaps the most difficult section ofthe documents. The engineer will stip-
    ulate exactly what is required ofthe contractor to satisfy the completion
    requirements. Since the specification writer does not know who the contrac-
    tor will be, or whether the contractor is reliably honest or capable ofserious
    deception, he or she must write the specifications so that there is no room
    for the contractor to deviate from the standards the engineer expects. Ifthe
    specification states:
  )( The Contractor shall drill test holes to establish suitability of the site.
     the contractor could find one promising corner spot on the site, drill five
     test holes that give good soil/rock results (independently tested), and
     proceed to build most of the structure over a bog somewhere else on the
     site where there is easier access. The specification should state:
  ,/ The Contractor shall drill 10 holes at the locations shown on the draWing.
     These soil samples are to be analyzed by an independent firm [or stipulate
     the firm].
         Figure 13-5 shows an excerpt ofthe seismic requirements section ofthe
      above school specification document.
         There are times when you can't detail every nut and bolt or no one would
      be able to lift the tender document, let alone bother to read it (an important
      cOjlsideration, since many contractors bid thejobs after only a cursory look
      thrdugh theproducts section). Keep the document as concise and easy to read
      as possible, and when it is necessary to rely on the contractor's discretion,
      stipulate that the contractor "conform to the intent and standards of
      the project" - he or she will then be obliged to provide all items up to the
      standard ofthe other materials.

            CHAPTER 13: Specification Documents and Project Management Reports          151

          You, the engineer, will be writing these specification tender documents in
      your office, but in your mind you must be visualizing the finished project
      and the operation ofthe system.
          The first page ofthe table ofcontents of a government tender document
      is illustrated in Figure 13-6.

                 TENDER DOCUMENT

Source: Reproduced with the permission of the Minister of Supply and Services Canada, 1993.
152 PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

Specification Document Numbering System
Specification documents ate always divided into the three main patts that have
been explained: general conditions, products, and execution; and the numbering
system is fairly rigid, though many depart from the standatd on the finer points. By
correlating the different standatds used by the different levels of government, we
suggest either of the examples illustrated in Figures 13-7 and 13-8.


Essentially project management is the "site services" aspect ofthe whole process. The
writing tasks in this phase ate not extensive (see bottom of Figure 1-2). The engi-
neer must simply document in point form observations and recommendations for
change, much as a scientist would do in monitoring the developments in an exper-
iment. In project management the first requisite again is to be accurate, recording
catefully what progress has been made and what remains to be done. The project
manager's job is to see that the client gets what he or she is paying for and what was
intended in the job. Look at the work, and record exactly what you see, being as
objective as possible.
  With today's cutthroat budgets, everyone has to consider cutting costs. The con-
           CHAPTER 13: Specification Documents and Project Management Reports 153


tractors may tell you they have done everything right, and they may show you how
they have in fact done so; but keep your own counsel, and if you are writing the
report satisfY yourselffully that the requirements have been met.

  Since the engineer carries the liability, he or she must be a sleuth, with every
instinct sharp and aware. For instance:
  An engineer was making a check of the construction of an arena. The foreman
  of the construction firm chatted him up for half an hour until the engineer
  indicated that every hour was costing the contractor a hundred dollars. When
154    PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

    the engineer asked to check the conduit in the ceiling, the foreman couldn't
    find a ladder. The engineer waited until they found a ladder.
       A third of the length of the building along, the engineer wanted to make
    another check. There was a large supply of lumber in the way. The foreman said
    there was no one to move the wood at that time. The engineer waited while
    he was subjected to the foreman's urges to move on. At this site he found the
    conduit was not installed as specified.
       At the far end of the building he selected another site to inspect and again
    many obstacles were raised. The engineer persisted and found bare wire
    without conduit and splices in the wiring, another shortcut by the contractor.
These observations provide the "deficiencies" part of the field/progress/review

Field Reports and Progress Reports
The design engineer mayor may not be appointed project manager to a project. In
some instances the client may have his or her own project manager, and in other
cases the contractor will have a construction manager who will take on the duties of
the project manager as well.
   Engineers avoid using the term "inspection" in their reports, choosing review or
progress reportor site service instead. The word "inspection" implies a thorough test-
ing with equipment and standards which the average progress report doesn't pro-
vide. In order to protect yourself from an awkward defense, should the occasion
arise, don't use the word "inspection." Even ifyou are doing slump tests on the con-
crete used on a bridge or building, you won't be testing every bucket ofconcrete, so
the results ofyour tests will still be random and will not meet the connotative defi-
nition of a technical "inspection."
   Ask the contractors and the forepersons how the project is going. Workers usu-
ally have an excellent grasp ofwhat loads can be borne by certain materials and they
may uncover mistakes made at the design stage that you can record and rectify
before the project goes too far.
   These are the contents ofprogress reports:
•   The date and the time ofday
•   Who is making the observations
•   Who is in attendance at the time
•   Conditions, weather, and temperature
•   Site conditions (dangerous materials left about, wiring unfinished, etc.)
•   What has been completed
•   What problems have been c<:>rrected since the previous report
•   What has not been completed
•   What new deficiencies there are in the work
•   What problems must be corrected (specifY what change orders must be
    written for these problems)
• Percentage estimates ofproject completion
            CHAPTER 13: Specification Documents and Project Management Reports 155

• Whether the work is on schedule; and ifit is not, the reasons
•   Recommendations regarding necessary additions, revisions, and payments
Figure 13-9 illustrates a typical progress report and change order form.

Completion Reports
On most projects there are two stages: the substantial completion stage and the final
completion stage.
   The substantialcompletion stage is partly a misnomer. At the substantial comple-
tion, the contractor states that the work is done. Then the engineer (project man-
ager) reviews the work - carefully - before accepting the substantial completion. He
or she will look into every part of the installation (avoiding any distractions) and
itemize all deficiencies, down to a bump in the wall made by a worker.
   This is because there are regulations in many states and provinces that stipulate
the contractor must be paid 59 days after the substantial completion. Consequently,
the engineer must make sure all deficiencies are corrected to his or her satisfaction
before signing the substantial completion report. Once the contractor is paid, there
may be difficulties getting the problems corrected.
   After the substantial completion stage, the engineer witnesses the commissioning
of the project - that part of the completion process in which the engineer is a
witness to the contractor's testing of the system, and adjusting, verifYing, and
recording results.
   After the engineer witnesses the commissioning ofthe system to his or her satis-
faction, he or she writes a completion reportto the client, verifYing that the contrac-
tor has completed the work and recommending that the owner accept the system.
This report may simply consist of a letter to the client saying:
    The work has been completed according to the specifications of the project.
    This concludes our work on this project.
The letter will include the results of the completion testing and any comments he
or she thinks the client should hear about the project.

Select a site in front ofyour building and write a specification document for a
sprinkler system installation or construction ofa water fountain/reHecting pool.
  Write the three parts:
    a. General Conditions Include the site description (measure your stride to
       measure the area) and the scope ofwork.
    b. Products
    c. Execution When to start, equipment restrictions, how deep to lay the
       pipes, restoration directions, etc.
IS6   PART     2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers


                                                                            CONTEMPLATED CHANGE ORDER

                                 Contractor                                                           ConlraclNo.

                                                                                                      Tille    P.A. -       SITE WIDE
                                                                                                      Proposed Change No.

                                                                                                      leR Relerence No.

                                 The following changes are being comlemplated on this contract

                                             Install sea~ tite flex and approved speaker wire in place of specifi<
                                             M..I. cable for all under-deck runs between junction boxes and speake)
                                            on windsocks,                   speaker poles,              and lamp standards;                    subject              t
                                            conformance with codes and regulations.                                 These runs' shall consist (
                                            unspliced sealtite flex material with approved bushings,                                              COnnectol
                                            and mountings for secure and protective installation.

                                                                                Project No.200. 402
                                                                                Report No. PA-36
                                                                                Page 1 of    1
                                                                                Dote April 24, 1986

                                                  Field Report
      Project EXPO SITE         SYSTEM

      DoleofVisil April 23, 1986                                Inspecior

      Time       10 :30 a.m.                                    Weother        S unoy

      PURPOSE:     Operational check,             verify maintenance items,                      and witness
                   training ..
      PROGRESS:     Estimated to be 98% overall ..

      1..    Training/Demonstration given by Contractor to      and
                    of Expo.   This deficiency can be removed from the
             contract ..

      2.     Maintenance and service items requiring contractor's action
             include adjustment of the supervisory system indicator latching                                                   1lor conSIderatIon in the event 01
                                                                                                                               ~ Sec Article 44 01 the
             at FA-3, speakers at the demo tank and Plaza of tlations, label
             strip on the FA-3 Jlonitor panel, and intermittent failure
             indication on the two panels in FA-3 ..

      3.     Operational checks of pagi-{lg from T-ll plaza and Plaza of
             Nations not completed due to lack of mains power and minor
             wiring problem..  Paging chedk of Area 7 parking unsatisfactory..
             Final sound level adj ustment and system performance to be re-
             checked ..

      4.     Contractor instructed to install missing screws holding top
             plates of 10 x 12 j unction boxes.
      5.     Typed running lists and two detail sheets to be submitted,
             replacing preliminary documents.

      6.     Contractor agreed to complete all of above by April 25, except
             Item 5 which will be complete by April 28.

                          ASSOCIATES lTO                     Distribution 10


A manual is a document explaining how to install, use, or repair a system or piece
of equipment. The reader of a manual will be one oftwo persons:
• Someone who has never used this apparatus or system before but has to use or
  fix it
• Someone who is familiar with the equipment or program but needs details
  occasionally on specific procedures
   The prime concern in writing a manual, after accuracy of course, is to make it
easy for readers to find the information they need easily and quickly. Ifa technician
is working on the weekend and can't find, or can't understand, the information she
needs, and your office is closed, she won't be happy.

At the beginning of each section of a manual, you should describe the contents of
that section.

Description of Contents
Start with a statement ofwhat the manual contains. For instance:
   This manual contains:
   • A table of contents
   • A glossary of terms used
   • An overview of the [name of mechanism]
   • A detailed description of parts
   • Installation instructions
   • Calibration instructions
   • Maintenance procedures
   • Checklists for startup and shutdown
   • Troubleshooting tables
   • Emergency procedures
Ensure that each section that follows is in the sequence you have outlined in your
description - that is, ifyou say the emergency procedures are at the end ofthe man-
ual, the reader can in fact find them there.

158 PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

Table of Contents
The table of contents should be numbered clearly in sections, with separate pagi-
nation for each section because manuals are often written in a nonlinear fashion as
the information becomes available to the writer. For instance, ifthe calibration sec-
tion is Section 4, then the pages in Section 4 will be numbered 4-1,4-2,4-3, etc.
The maintenance procedures section, Section 5, will be 5-1, 5-2, etc. This makes
revisions and additions much easier.

Glossary of Terms
The reader needs to know the definitions of any critical terms used in the manual,
especially normal words that are usedwith a different meaning. For example (from
an IBM installation manual):
   Map A predefined alphanumeric layout, defining the position. attribute. and
   default data for each constituent alphanumeric field
   Swathe A horizontal slice of printer output, forming part of a complete picture

Description of System (or Mechanism)
Write a brief overview of the system: what it is expected to do and how it will per-
form its function. Very often a mechanic is called in to repair parts of a system he
or she has never worked on before. Not understanding the purpose of the equip-
ment and the expected performance requirements can give rise to serious mistakes.
  In some applications, the overview is the theory ofoperation, explaining why the
system is doing what it is doing, in which case it is a good idea to include a labelled
diagram as well.

Description and Explanation of Parts
Each part should have a separate page devoted to it with a diagram and explanation.

Installation Instructions
The instructions are written in point form and in chronological order. Clarity is all-
important. See the section on instructions in Chapter 3.

Calibration Procedures
Include such information as meter settings, temperature ranges, and normal set-
tings for DIP switches.

Operating Instructions
Again, write these instructions in point form. Be very careful to avoid errors; have
                                                            CHAPTER 14: Manuals   159

someone else read the instructions after you have written them. Break. the instruc-
tions into sections, such as:
• Startup
• Running configuration
• Shutdown procedures
Highlight the hazards in some clear fashion. Sometimes it is necessary to explain
why something is hazardous, so that the user will act on the advice and not just pass
over it unaware ofthe significance.

Maintenance Procedures
Follow the same guidelines as for operating instructions.

Troubleshooting Table
Set up two columns. In the right column, state what the "symptoms" consist
of, and in the left the corresponding possible causes and corrective action

Emergency Procedures
Make this section instantly accessible. Give the hazards, outlining how the operator
will know when there is a "meltdown," and the procedures to be followed in each

Provide checklists for:
• Setting up, running, and shutting down the equipment
• Maintenance equipment checks
• Regular and special maintenance procedures
These checklists should be concise and set out so that they can be photocopied for
the users on the job. Preferably, they should be in table form so that the user can
physically check offeach procedure as it is carried out.

An alphabetical list of the concepts, terms, and processes used in the manual
should go at the end.

The increased use of computers has brought with it an enormous production of
large instruction manuals. Unfortunately, everyone has had the frustration and the
anger that comes from working with badly written manuals. Several serious crimes
are often committed in writing manuals. The following rules should keep you out
ofcourt. Refer to them before sending the manual to the printer:
160 PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

1. Give accurate instructions
   • If a measurement is to be 7.32 V, it can't be 7.23 V.
   • Ifthe program needs a colon (:) do not type a semicolon (;).
   • Proofread very carefully. See the section on revision for grammar in
      Chapter 4.
2. Don't leave out a step
3. Do not assume the reader has a knowledge ofthe equipment or certain
   procedures that he or she may not have. Have someone else test the manual
   before it is used.
4. Do not refer to another section of the manual that has been deleted or
   • If the manual is a revision, be sure to revise the drawings that are related to
      that text, especially ifthey are distanced in the appendix.
   • Do not refer to necessary information that is hard to find. Ifyou refer to
      some information in Section 1.4.5 more than once, you should move
      it to the appendixes, where the information can be found more easily, or
      simply repeat the information wherever it is needed.
5. Call the reader's attention to the hazards biforethe instruction
6. Be consistent
   • Keep the same verb tense. Preferably use the imperative: "Put the ends
      through loop A."
   • "When referring to a system, consistendy refer to it by the same term. For
      instance, ifyou refer to the "central processing equipment," do not call
      it the "central equipment" the next time. The reader will wonder whether
      it refers to the same equipment.
   • Be consistent in the numbering system used. For example, ifyou start out
      with subheadings "1.1," "1.1.2," do not switch to ''A'' or "ii)" later in the
   • Don't give an instruction in one place in a different fashion than in another
      place. For example, ifyou write "Fasten the connections" on some
      installation instructions, and then later write "Crimp the connectors," the
      reader will not know if this is the same idea.
7. Identify any abbreviation when first mentioned
   • Ifyou refer to high power amplifiers (HPA) used in satellites, write out
      the words and place the acronym in parentheses.
   • Use a glossary at the front or the back.
8. Don't personify the equipment, as in "The bolts will want to shake loose."
9. Don't confuse "will" and "shall" or use them interchangeably Ordinarily the
   system "will" do such and such (a fact), and the contractor "shall" provide the
   manuals upon completion ofthe job (a command).
Hint: Ifyou use many drawings in the manual, an excellent plan is to have all the
written text on the left page and the drawings on the right page for easy access.
                                                          CHAPTER 14: Manuals   161

Small Manuals
The size, detail, and format ofa manual will naturally be determined by its purpose.
For example, a simple manual for a one-camera home surveillance system may
consist of:
• A schematic ofthe system
• A parts list
• An illustration ofthe equipment for reference
• Two or three pages ofinstructions on the operation
Figure 14-1 shows an example of a very short manual.

Large Manuals
 An example of a much bigger production/publication is the 387-page installation
 and system management manual for the IBM Graphical Data Display Mana-
.ger/MVS program (GDDM/MVS), which consists of:
• Apreface
• A list of other manuals the user may need to refer to
• A summary of amendments
• A page outlining the structure of the manual
• An 8-page table ofcontents
• Three pages offigures
• An 18-page introduction
• A 12-page overview
• Preinstallation planning instructions
• Installation instructions
• Postinstallation instructions
• Aglossary
• An index
• Appendixes
Fortunately, manuals of this size are often written by professional manual writers
after interviewing the engineers and technicians who design and use the systems.
Nevertheless, even ifyou, the engineer, do not actually write the manual, you will
still be responsible for its accuracy.
   Figures 14-2 and 14-3 show excerpts from a manual for a recreational submarine
designed to carry 45 passengers. Figure 14-2 draws from the "Descriptions of the
Systems" section, and Figure 14-3 from the "Emergency Procedures" section.
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164 PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers


The bilge system of the submarine is an electrically powered system used to remove water from
the hull which may collect from the following conditions:
• Air conditioning condensate
• Hard ballast overfill
• Battery pod condensate
• Hull leakage/condensate

  x liters/minute (dP =)
• PUMPING AT 80 msw:
  x liters/minute (dP =)
  x watts at x rpm

The main components of the bilge pump system, a rotary membrane-type pump, an electric
motor, valves, and electrical controls, are located within the hull on the starboard side of the
pilot's post, behind console facing.
   Hydraulic forces, created by the fluid pump, turned by the electric motor, drive water through
tubing of the bilge pump system. Suction draws water to the pump through tubing of the bilge
pump system, and pressure head pushes water to the exterior of the hull through tubing.
   There are six tubing sections for the collection of water, and one for the discharge of water
from the pump's exit, across the pressure boundary, to the exterior of the hull. The water exit
is at hull valve #33, located on the upper starboard side section ofthe front window flange.
                            [Diagram of the bilge system here]

•   Port pod hull valve #30        OPEN
•   Starboard pod hull valve #27   OPE
•   Water exhaust hull valve #22   OPEN
•   Panel valves (quantity 6)      CLOSED
• Acquisition system               ON
• Bilge pump switch                OFF

• Bilge pump switch                ON AS REQUIRED
• Manifold valves                  OPEN AS REQUIRED
                                                                   CHAPTER 14: Manuals       165


The concentration in percentage volume is permanently displayed on the pilot's overhead mon-
itor. The normal concentration is between 18% to 22%.
   An internal oxygen concentration above 22% will be indicated on the numerical concentra-
tion display, the general alarm buzzer, and a warning message on the pilot's overhead monitor.
   An increase in concentration caused by an internal leak will be indicated by the falling of the
needle of the low-pressure oxygen gauge, while the external high-pressure gauge remains
   If the oxygen concentration rises above 22% the pilot is to assume that oxygen has filtered
into all electrical components.

Surface vessel                             INFORM OF STATUS
Electrical equipment                       DO NOT USE
Normal oxygen hull valve (#15)             CLOSE
Normal oxygen piloting hull valve (#16).   CLOSE
Position                                   GO TO SURFACE, using soft ballast if required
Passengers                                 TO REMAIN STILL
Gas analysis                               MONITOR INTERNAL O 2 CONC.
Hatches                                    OPEN WHEN AT SURFACE

• Do not use electrical breakers and eqUipment.
• Keep passengers still to avoid static electrical sparks.
• Sever the supply of oxygen at the hull valves.
• Ascend using the submarine's positive buoyancy force. The velocity of ascent will increase as
  the displacement of the submarine increases under the pressure of lower water depths.
• Do not use thrusters.
                 The Journal Article or
                  Conference Paper

Any significant research you have conducted that could have value for other engi-
neers in your field is suitable material for academic, scientific, or professional jour-
nal publication. And the subject matter of any engineering journal or conference
reflects the nature of engineering - solvingproblems. A suitable subject would be
any problem you have resolved by modifying standard techniques or by modifying
equipment for a special purpose or through any other ingenious means. Journals
function as professional information exchanges, and other engineers will be interest-
ed in your solutions to your problems.
   For example, a paper written by P. S. Gaskell when he was employed in the BBC
Research Department, in England, was presented at the 77th Convention of the
Audio Engineering Society in Hamburg, Germany. It was titled ''A Hybrid
Approach to the Variable-Speed Replay of Digital Audio," and was summarized in
the abstract as follows:
   A method is described for replaying digital audio at speeds varying continuously
   from standstill to many times nominal speed. A hybrid approach is adopted which
   combines switched interpolation digital filters with a fixed reconstruction filter.
   Its performance is suitable for high-quality applications and it only requires
   relatively modest signal-processing hardware.
The subjects can vaty in technical complexity. You can write an in-depth article like
"The Spectral Recording Process" by Ray Dolby, or a shorter article like ''Audio for
the Elderly" by Edward Herrold.

Most professional journals have highly specific requirements for article contribu-
tions, and will provide copies of their guidelines on request. Generally, the infor-
mation is laid out in the following order:
• The tide - a micro description ofthe article's content

                           CHAPTER 15: The Journal Article or Conference Paper 167

• The author's name and the company or institution where he or she works
  (including the name ofthe city)
• The abstract, which introduces the article and describes it (see Chapter 3
  abstracts, under "Descriptive Summary")
• The body of the article, which is often written up in quasi-report fashion with
  report-style headings such as:
   • Introduction
   • History/Background
   • Current Status
   • Solutions
   • Conclusions
•. An acknowledgements section, which follows the conclusions if the author
   has worked with others on the development ofnew procedures or has had help
   putting the paper/article together and wants to give his or her assistants credit
• A bibliography or list ofreferences, which usually concludes the article -
   a numbered list ofthe sources, books, papers, or journals that the author has
   researched and which the reader can refer to for more information
  Figure 15-1 shows parts of an article that appeared in the journal ofthe Audio
Engineering Society (AES) Guly/August 1987). Later headings in the article were
as follows:
   7   ATL

This was followed by a short professional biography of the author.

The journal article is a combination ofan essay and a technical report; it could be
called a "technical essay." Consequendy, try to incorporate the best features of
both. Some articles are written exacdy like a report or a lab experiment with the
decimal system for headings, as shown in Figure 15-1; others are written in a mag-
azine-like style, with graphs, charts, and diagrams such as you might find in Scien-
tificAmerican. Most engineering journals will tell you what their format is.
    Many journal articles are the text papers that were presented at a conference
(that is, the text ofspeeches); Any such paper must have been submitted in writing
to the convenors ofthe conference, who evaluated all submissions and selected the
best. Copies were made for the participants to take away with them after the con-
ference, and in some cases, the copies were mailed to the participants after the con-
ference. (Oral presentations are discussed in Chapter 11.)
168 PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

Figure 15-1        FROM A JOURNAL ARTICLE

Source: By permission of Marshall Long and journal ofthe Audio Engineering Society (AES).

• Clarify your purpose and write out your thesis (often the abstract placed at
  the beginning ofthe anicle will be the thesis statement).
• Be clear and accurate in your information. (See Chapters 2 and 3.) Recheck
  numbers and computations many times yourself, and have others check
  them also.
• Organize your supporting material logically.
• Demonstrate carefully how your proposition leads to your conclusions, and
  state your conclusions clearly.

Write the greenhouse effect analysis that you performed in the last exercise in
Chapter 12 as a journal article.
          Writing Tasks for Meetings

There is a meeting coming up to present a proposal, or to resolve some problem,
and you get a phone call, "Leslie, will you look after the agenda, and take notes at
the meeting for us?"
  What do you do?
1. Make physical arrangements for the meeting place: booking rooms if
   necessary, arranging for a blackboard or whiteboard and suitable chairs,
   coffee, and copies ofthe agenda.
2. Ask questions and write up the agenda (see below).
3. Circulate the agenda to those invited 7 to 15 days ahead oftime.
4. Write the minutes (an informative summary) of the meeting, starting
   with a description of the nature ofthe meeting. Follow this with the
   important points ofthe discussion - who made the motions, who seconded
   the motions, and what actions were prescribed.

Usually, engineering meetings are fairly specific in nature, and the speakers are ade-
quately informed on what they will be expected to contribute. However, ifyou are
writing the agenda (a description of how the meeting will go), preview those who
will attend, if possible. Phone or send memos, E-mail, or faxes to the participants,
and invite topics for the agenda. Determine what they expect to discuss and any
problems they hope to clear up at the meeting. State clearly where and at what time
the meeting will be held. Also specifY when the meeting will be expected to end.
   In the agenda, clarifY the purpose of the meeting. From the information you
gained from talking to the participants and from your own knowledge ofwhat the
meeting is intended to achieve, write out the purpose of the meeting several times
until you clearly understand it. (This purpose statement is similar to the subject
line of a letter or memo, the objective of a report, or the thesis statement of an

170 PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

   Itemize the business to be discussedin.a numbered, chronological list. Each item
should be stated in a couple ofwords· and then clarified in a sentence or two. For
instance, item 3 might be "Project Fees." There should be a sentence clarifYing that
the project fees must be reduced and the participants will be expected to justifY
their fee estimates. Or, ifthis is the first compilation of the fees on a specific job, or
the discussion is to determine an overall project fee for an estimate for a proposal,
this should be clarified.
   Figure 16-1 gives an example of an agenda.

Figure 16-1       AN AGENDA
                                 NOTICE OF MEETING

                               SIXTH GENERAL MEETING
                           Friday, March 22, 1994, 2:30 p.m.
                           MAIN SEMINAR ROOM, Third Floor

To put forward special budget requests before the budget committee completes the 1996

I. Approval of agenda
2. Approval of minutes (enclosed)
3. Mechanical Engineering requests and discussion; 2-year forecast on the DND contract
4. Electrical Engineering requests and discussion; Jonathan Newall, presentation
5. Report from the Computer Department on the recent LAN installation
6. Other business
7. Adjournment: anticipated end of business at 5:00 p.m.

                           The Citrus Bowl Stadium Project meeting
                      will be held on Thursday, March 28, at 10:00 a.m.,
                                    Heppell Seminar Room

Take notes of any contributions you want to make at the meeting on any of the
agenda items. Make all comments constructive: no sarcasm, no jokes (occasional
humour helps if appropriate to the occasion).

Prepare a card for each item on the agenda with the purpose, plan, and the specific
questions that need answers. The Chair should note on the back of this card what
decisions were made, who was appointed to carry them out, and by what date they
are to be carried out.
                                        CHAPTER 16: Writing Tasks for Meetings   171

• Ascertain what the purpose ofthe meeting will be, and what your role is.
• Collect all information and communications you have received on the subject.
• Investigate any precedents from previous jobs that will corroborate your
• Take all information with you: names, dates, etc.

Write down any and all of the benefits your proposal will have for the meeting
participants. Look for the strongest persuasive appeal for the listeners who will be
in attendance:
• If the accountant ofthe client firm will be present, make sure you address the
  monetary benefits ofyour proposal.
• If the president ofthe company will be present, indicate how your proposal
  is designed to save the company embarrassment in any way, how failsafe your
  design will be, what quality they will enjoy for the best price, etc.
write out all the persuasive factors but select only a few. Too many will overwhelm
the listener; two or three explained carefully will stay with them longer. Be confi-
dent and have the facts with you (the actual numbers and costs) and be sure the
numbers (prices, model numbers, and materials) are accurate and current. Quot-
ing three-year-old prices that are halftoday's value will not be impressive.

At the Meeting
Note down on the cards prepared (or other notebook) every decision that has been
made, every good suggestion to be looked into, who made the suggestion, and who
will be doing the followup activities.

Takeyour own personal notes on the aspects ofthe meeting that pertain to you. In
the excitement ofa meeting, the agenda items can be dealt with in short order, and
at the time the decisions seem so obvious that you are sure you will remember them
- butyou wont. Once outside the meeting room, after chatting in the hall for 10
minutes, you won't remember a word. Any task you are assigned during the meet-
ing you must write down immediately and repeat aloud to the Chair to be sure you
have understood exactly what you are expected to do. And write in a permanent
notebook: pieces ofpaper get lost.

Often there is no official recording secretary, and any ofthe engineers may be called
upon at a moment's notice to fill that function. It is the job ofthe recording secre-
tary to prepare the minutes ofthe meeting.
I 72 PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

To prepare the minutes:
•   Note the date and the time
•   List those in attendance and those who apologized for their absences
•   Describe the topic under discussion
•   Record actions to be taken, decisions made, and who is responsible for the
The minutes should be typed out, copied, and circulated later as a reminder to
those responsible for various duties. Preferably higWight the relevant items for each
  Note: Sometimes the minutes are simply attached to the agenda of the next
meeting ifthere are regular meetings ofthe same group.
  Figure 16-2 shows part ofthe minutes ofa meeting.

Figure 16-2      FROM A PAGE OF MINUTES
                                          CHAPTER 16: Writing Tasks for Meetings 173

An engineer attends a meeting for one ofseveral purposes:
• To present a proposal for a specific project
• To be the engineering expert
• To contribute ingenuity to the team on problems that arise

Proposal Presentation Meetings
When the engineer has:
• Responded to a request for proposals
• Submitted a letter ofinterest to a client
• Been invited to submit a proposal
• Been invited by an architect to work with the architect's firm to submit a
  proposal to do a project
• Been shortlisted as a contender for a large job on the strength ofwork he or
  she has previously done
he or she may be invited to offer his or her services at a presentation meeting.
   The objective, then, ofthe proposal contenders is to present their proposals in as
professional a manner as possible. A presentation meeting is set up for the client to
interview the different engineers or design teams. This is much like a job interview.
There will be a panel of decision-makers who will listen carefully to the presenta-
tions of the contenders, and who will ask questions about the designs, how the
engineers plan to do the work, and what fees they will charge. The client will clari-
fY at this meeting what specific responsibilities the consultant, engineer, and
designer will be expected to provide for the project. Note these assignments down in
writing at the meeting asyou hear them.

Concept Report Meetings
This is a meeting with the client after you have been given approval to work on the
project and after you have sent the client the written concept report. Often the
client's principal decision-maker, such as a government deputy minister who
attended the presentation meetings and selected you for the job, is not the princi-
pal who will be overseeing the project. Therefore you must make it clear exactly
what systems orfacilities the project will comprise. This is the purpose ofthe concept
report and the concept report meeting.
   At this meeting the client can see what you expect to do and can approve or take
this opportunity to clarify what is expected. This is also the only chance the clienthas
to inputspecialrequests before the design is finalized. Anticipate all the questions the
client could ask, and be prepared to answer them.
   See Chapter 12 for more on the nature ofthe concept report.

Project Management Meetings
Once the project is in progress, there should be a meeting with the contractors,
174 PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

client, engineer, and project manager to outline the schedule; then later there will be
meetings to ascertain whether the project is running on schedule and to discuss
whether there are to be any changes in the design or construction. These should be
held as often as the size of the project requires.

Internal Office Meetings
These are often "expert-witness" meetings held within a company, a government
department, or a consulting firm to which an engineer is invited to provide engi-
neering advice. For instance:
• In the government, meetings are held to award contracts and funds for
  programs the government is offering. These meetings will be to discuss the
  evaluations the engineers have written on the proposals the government
  has received. Every member will be expected to be informed on the different
  candidates and will be expected to state why he or she chooses a certain
• In private consulting firms, meetings are often held on a regular basis, once a
  week or so, to allocate the jobs and assess the completion or progress on the
  different jobs in-house. Other meetings may be held to determine how best to
  represent the firm at other functions.
• In utility companies, meetings usually involve forecast reports, project
  assignments, and problem-solving issues.
• In research and design companies, the meetings may involve brainstorming
  for proposal ideas, for problem-solving sessions, or for work assignment
  As an expert witness or specialist, you might be asked to suggest procedures you
believe to be the best in the circumstances; or when things go wrong, you might be
invited to contribute your ingenuity as a problem-solver.
  Whatever the specifics, remember that your role is to function as the credible
informedproftssionaL Be prepared, do your homework, and take notes on actions to
be taken. Be careful not to pretend to know more than you know. There is no
shame in promising to get in touch with an expert on a subject to find the best

Seating Arrangement
Arrive early and check the seating arrangements, changing them if they are not
conducive to the impression you are making. For instance, ifthe tables are set up in
a U shape and your team must sit on two sides of the decision-maker's table facing
each other, this will create a divided effect; move the tables so that they form a more
team-oriented position. A semicircle facing the decision-makers would be best, so
that the questioners can face each contender while asking their questions while you
present a united presence.
                                         CHAPTER 16: Writing Tasks for Meetings 175

Visual Aids
Every course on oral presentations dwells on the use ofvisual aids: slides, drawings,
or charts on overhead projectors, maps, simple blackboard notations, charts of
time schedules on easels arranged at a convenient distance from the panel, etc.
Even simply writing keywords on a blackboard or a flip chart can promote recep-
tivity in the audience. Though the use of visual aids· seems an obvious enough
device, you can become so preoccupied with what you are going to say and what
you are going to wear that you forget to make the effon to get a visual aid and take
it with you.
   The most successful professionals use visual aids, and gain several advantages
1. The mind perceives visually 25 percent more than it perceives aurally.
   Therefore you augment the impact ofyour spoken material significandy.
2. Using a visual aid gives the audience a focus for their eyes. They are able to
   look at the material instead ofyou and this freedom is more comfortable
   for the listener.
3. You will be less nervous with the focus of the audience partially removed
   from you, and you will have something to do with your hands which may
   otherwise be a nervous distraction.

• Do not wave your hands about or fidget with pencils and other pocket
  material. Ifnecessary take your pen and hold it firmly with one hand on
  each end and do not let go until your part of the presentation is finished.
• Offstage, do not create a distraction by fidgeting when the other members
  ofyour team are speaking.
• Do not read out your presentation.
• Do not memorize Ifyou lose your place, you will embarrass yourself trying
  to find it again. Ifyou rely on the written material verbatim, you will not
  have the general thrust ofyour purpose clear in your mind from which you
  can go on to field questions intelligendy.
• Write out your material ah~d oftime and organize it for the strongest
  presentation. Rewrite and rehearse it without reading. But record only very
  short verbal cues on a piece ofpaper or a card.
• Have in front ofyou only your visual aid, your cue card, and a pad to write
  the comments made by the reviewers that pertain to you. Have all other
  information on the project in your file in your briefcase.
• Do not try to be overly witty Humour is always acceptable when appropriate,
  but the engineer who is trying to grandstand a comedy routine is not
  entenaining when there is business to be done. You will be taking up the
  valuable time of those attending the meeting with your comedy, and though
  they may laugh they will note that you are not a serious player.
• Do your homework Research the client's needs and other, similar jobs,
  noting both the problems and what worked well. Take the agenda to the
176 PART 2: Specific Communication Tasks of Engineers

  meeting and any other written material you have received pertaining to the
• Meet with the other members of the team to find out how they plan to
  make their presentation and what features they are going to emphasize. Don't
  duplicate the material someone else is presenting.
• Meetings require teamwork You are at a meeting for the purpose of
  resolving problems, not creating them. Keep your contributions constructive
  and realistic. Ifyou raise an obstacle, be prepared to offer a solution -
  do not continually raise obstacles to every suggestion, offering no constructive
  alternatives. Try to ensure that the quiet people are heard. No one should

Have a meeting to present the student proposals or recommendation reports.
a. Write out an agenda that gives the time for each presentation and title.
b. For each proposal, inform the group whom they are supposed to represent at
   this meeting.
c. Designate one student to ask an intelligent question ofeach proposer.
d. Those attending the meeting must decide whether the proposal is to be
   accepted, rejected, or deferred. There must be some substantial reason, such as
   needing more information, delaying until the budget is approved, etc.
          Appendix A:
    Common Punctuation Problems
1. Use an apostrophe plus an "s" to form the possessive singular of nouns and
   indefinite pronouns.
   The company's logo is dark red and black.
   Someone else's boots are on the rack.
   One's nerves are at serious risk in the office.
2. Use an apostrophe without an extra "s" to form the possessive plural of
   The engineers' cars are being ticketed.
   The magazines' edges are uneven.
Do not use an apostrophe for the possessive case of"its." The only time you write
"it's" is when you are contracting "it is" or "it has." In every other case, write "its."

Brackets []
1. Use brackets when you are interjecting your own comments within a
   Martin Truly commented, "Why doesn't the group [those there at the time] get
   together again after visiting the site?"
2. Use brackets to indicate an error in the original document, with the Latin
   word sic meaning "thus" or "so."
   Work was going bad [sic] for Steglitz.

Parentheses ( )
1. Use parentheses to identify an acronym when used the first time.
   Send the information as soon as possible (ASAP).
                                                                     your own
2. Use parentheses to add a fact or date not obvious in a statement of
   or to add other supplementary information.
   He is more likely to join the other team (McRae and McDowell) if we don't
   set a starting date.

178 APPENDIX A: Common Punctuation Problems

3. Use parentheses to refer to an appendix or other part of the text.
   (See Appendix B.)

1. Generally, capitalize all proper nouns (names) and the words derived from
   them. That is, any name ofa specific person or place is capitalized.
   The two specialists, Doctor Monroe and Doctor Harvey, are lecturing on
   corporate stress management.
   International Business Machines (IBM) is one of the world's most famous
2. Capitalize titles ofbooks, projects, reports, studies, and people.
   The Annual Report of the Ministry of Environment will be delivered
   on 12 March 1991.
   The Honourable Marcel Masse has been active in the new copyright legislation.
3. Some computer software programs are set in full capitals.
   Others, such as Pascal, are not.

1. Use a colon after the salutation in a business letter.
   Dear Dr. Cleary:
2. Sometimes it is desirable to use a colon to introduce a quotation (or you can
   simply use a comma).
   The hydro company report stated: "Weather can have a material effect on
   sales, particularly electric heat loads:'
3. Use a colon to introduce a list.
   Three types of reports must be written during the construction phase of a
   project: the progress report, the field report, and the completion report.
4. Use a colon to signal a pause stronger than a semicolon but not as strong as
   a period.
   We may not arrive on the first day of the Conference: our prototypes won't be
   finished before the second of May.
Note: Do not put a colon after a verb or preposition.
  Do notuse colons in these situations:
   )c The three reports are: the progress report, the field report, and the
      completion report.
   )c The train departs for: New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia.
                                     APPENDIX A: Common Punctuation Problems 179

Correct Uses of the Comma
1. To link items in a series.
   He brought the tools, the hardware, the lumber, and the plans.
2. To set offnon-restrictive clauses (clauses that do not change the meaning of
   the sentence if taken out).
   Sandra's secretary, who is also Bill's secretary, is taking a leave of absence
   next month.
3. In dates in a sentence, the comma follows the day and the year.
   The report was sent out on June 15, 1990, by priority post.
Note: The commas can be omitted if the day is not included, or if the day of the
month precedes the month.
   The report was sent out in June 1990 by priority post.
   The report was sent out 15 June 1990 by priority post.
4. To mark offany interruption in the sentence: contrasted elements, and
   parenthetical words and phrases.
   Engineers, unlike scientists, have to focus on implementing new ideas, new
   discoveries, and new designs into useful applications.
   Engineering, then, takes pure science into the world.
5. To set off qualifiers of names ofcities and other geographical locations
   ("Ontario" in the example below).
   The seminar on the greenhouse effect will be held in Toronto, Ontario,
   in April 1992.
   Address the bill to the Okanagan Group, Pentieton, B.C.
6. To avoid a misreading ofa sentence.
   Still, life goes on when the jobs are few.

Incorrect Uses of the Comma
• There is no comma separating a subject from its verb or the verb from the object.
   )c   Composing letters on the computer, gives the writer versatility.
        The architects phoned to see, if the drawings had arrived.
• There are no commas around restrictive clauses and phrases.
   )C   Engineers, who can use word processors and CAD programs, are currently
        in demand.
• The following are miscellaneous cases in which you do not need commas in
  technical writing.
180 APPENDIX A: Common Punctuation Problems

   K Incorporate all the information the reader needs, such as, the terrain, the
     weather, the geology, and the site orientation. [No comma after such as]
   K Possibly, the directions are out of date. [No comma after possibly]

DASH (-)
Use a dash to mark a break in thought, to set offa parenthetical element for empha-
sis or clarity, or to set offan introductory series.
   Grammar is a tool a good writer - no, every writer - needs.
   Earthquake-proofing has added to the construction costs - significantly.
   Overworked, overpaid, and much appreciated - that is the goal of the average
   engineering student.

ELLIPSIS ( ... )
Use the ellipsis to indicate that something has been omitted from a quoted
sentence. Use three dots within a sentence and four dots if the omission includes an
end-of-sentence period.
   "Airline pilots have nicknamed the area in New Mexico which contains ... nearly
    30 radio telescopes the 'Mushroom Patch'...:'

1. Use a hyphen to link two or more words that function as one.
   We were delayed in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
2. Use a hyphen to join two or more words that function as a single adjective
   modifying a noun.
   We need a recycle box for out-of-date computer parts.
3. Use a hyphen when spelling out the numbers from twenty-one to ninety-nine.
4. Use a hyphen to avoid ambiguity.
   Over-lay the vapor barrier with.... [To distinguish the word from overlay]
   Re-sign the letter. [To distinguish the word from resign]
5. Use a hyphen:
   • With prefixes such as self, ex-, all-, mid-
   • With the suffix -elect
   • Between a prefix and a capitalized word
   • With figures or letters, and codes with more than five numbers
                                      APPENDIX A: Common Punctuation Problems         181

   self-denial          president-elect
   ex-roommate          all-Canadian
   all-around           post-Renaissance
These guidelines are very basic ones only. Refer to a dictionary if you have any
doubts about whether a hyphen is used.

1. Spell out the word for the number at the beginning ofthe sentence, or if
   the number is between one and nine.
   Twelve of the 20 dams have been constructed in only six states.
   As you can see in the sentence above, this is an awkward convention at times if
   you have other numbers in the sentence. Use words or numbers consistently in
   anyone sentence or paragraph, or with an eye to parallelism and differentiation.
     From a corporate annual report:
   The estimated useful lives or lease terms of income-producing properties are
   between five and forty years. The estimated useful lives of all other assets are
   between three and ten years.
   The average was twenty at 5 percent, and nine at I 1.5 percent.
Note: In engineering there is a tendency to use the number more often than the
word for the number.
2. Use numbers for dates, addresses, time, exact sums ofmoney, and references
   within a report.
   He should arrive at 2:30 p.m. on 15 March 1994 at the new office at 3535 Cook
   Street. Send him the agenda that is on page 6 of the travel pamphlet.
3. Write out numbers that represent an approximation.
   There will be about thirty-five copies of the report ready.

1. Put periods and commas inside quotation marks.
   "Don't send a letter:' she said, "just send a fax:'
2. Put question marks and exclamation marks inside or outside, depending on the
   sense ofthe sentence.
   "Did you see the drawings?" Lars asked.
   How much did the quote vary using the approved "as-equal items"?
182 APPENDIXA: Common Punctuation Problems

3. Use single quotation marks (' ') for quotes within a quote.
   The Chair stated, "The construction has to start by September 15, since the
   foreperson says she 'can't promise a full crew' if there is another delay:'

1. Use a semicolon to link closely related independent clauses (with or without
   a conjunctive adverb such as besides, however, indeed, likewise, moreover,
   nevertheless, then, thereftre,fUrthermore, consequently, also, or accordingly).
   The DOS system is probably on its way out; however, there will be many
   applications for the system for a long time.
   The new, smaller audio discs look promising; the digital audio tape (OAT)
   won't survive long.
2. Use a semicolon to link elements in a series when there are commas within
   the elements (in this case, it is all right to introduce the list with a colon):
   The short list consisted of three firms: Fuji Pacific, Tokyo, Japan; Albertan
   Recoveries, Edmonton, Canada; and North Sea Resources, Oslo, Norway.
          Appendix B:
A Sample Recommendation Report
The following includes a 10-page excerpt from a desalination study report along
with supporting materials.
  The letter of transmittal (Figure B-1) was attached under the cover in front of
the title page (Figure B-2).
  The appendixes, which were part ofthe additional material, and contained maps
of the locale with respect to the surrounding areas from San Luis Obispo to Los


184 APPENDIX B: A Sample Recommendation Report

Angeles, the terrain, power supply system, sewerage system, ocean shelves, and
water currents, are not included here.

                                          APPENDIX B: A Sample Recommendation Report   185


                                         TABLE OF CONTENTS
Glossary                                                                                 I
1.0        Introduction                                                                  2
2.0        Background                                                                    2
2.1       Site Description                                                               3
2.2       Special Considerations                                                         3
3.0        Desalination Methods                                                          4
3.1        Distillation                                                                  4
3.1.1        Multistage Flash Distillation                                               8
3.1.2        Vapour Compression Distillation                                             9
3.1.3        Vertical Tube Evaporation                                                  10
3.2        Membrane Processes                                                           II
3.2.1        Reverse Osmosis                                                            12
3.2.2        Transport Depletion                                                        14
3.2.3        Electrodialysis                                                            16
3.3       Other Processes                                                               18
4.0       Conclusions/Analysis                                                          21
5.0        Recommendations                                                              23
6                  . ns                                                                 26

    I)   Multistage Flash Distillation                                                   8
    2)   Vapour Compression Distillation                                                 9
    3) Vertical Tube Evaporation                                                        10
    4)   Reverse Osmosis                                                                12
    5)   Transport Depletion Process                                                    14
    6)   Electrodialysis                                                                16
    7)   Solar Distillation & Freeze Distillation                                       20
    8)   Spiral-Wound, Hollow-Fibre. & Tubular Membranes                                21
    9)   USA Standards for Drinking Water                                               23
10)      Chemical Composition of Sea Water                                              23
I I)     Costs per Gallon of Desalinated Water, 1989 Figures                            24
12)      Water & Sewage Flow Diagram for Santa Barbara                                  27
186 APPENDIX B: A Sample Recommendation Report


                                                                       Desalination Study page I

Brackish water - water containing a mineral content of 1000-5000 ppm
Brine - any water solution containing more total dissolved solids than sea water
Distillation - co.ndensing water that has been evaporated by heating or condensing water by
Drinking water/fresh water - water containing less than 500 ppm of dissolved salts
Industrial etfluents - water containing 500-5000 ppm mineral content
Irrigation water - depending on the chemistry of the soil, water whose mineral requirement
should not exceed 12 000 ppm that can be used for irrigating
Membrane - a thin sheet of material having the ability to permit certain substances to pass
through it and exclude others
Munidpal waste water - water containing 500-5000 ppm mineral content
Osmosis - the diffusion through a semipermeable membrane separating two solutions which
tends to equalize the concentration of the solutions
Saline water - brackish water, sea water, or brine containing more than 1000 ppm of dissolved
Sea water - ocean water with a mineral content of 10,000-45,000 ppm

Mineral Contents of Different Water
                                                    Parts per Million
Drinking Water / Fresh Water                               <500
Saline Water                                              > 1000
Industrial Effluent / Municipal Waste Water              500-5000
Brackish Water                                           1000-5000
Geothermal Brines                                       3000-20,000
Sea Water                                              10,000-45,000
                                     APPENDIX B: A Sample Recommendation Report               187


                                                                        Desalination Study page 2

The purpose of this study is to present the different methods of desalinating sea water, and rec-
ommend the most suitable method with respect to economics, energy supplies, and quality of
the water produced.

In recent years fresh water has become a scarce commodity in many communities around the
world. There are shortages due to contamination, drought conditions, and difficulty in trans-
porting water to areas with growing populations where the existing supplies are being exhaust-
ed. Although stricter pollution laws and better water usage and management practices have
helped, there is a need for more fresh water.
Consequently, there has been a strong motivation to explore all the alternative sources such as
transporting water by truck or freighter, or building pipelines or aqueducts or melting icebergs.
There has also been a renewed interest here in the United States in desalination methods and
the technology has been improved to the point where desalination is a feasible cost-effective
source for communities like Santa Barbara (which, in 1990/91, has been functioning on 45% of its
water needs as a result of the ongoing drought in Southern California). The current shortage has
been met by enforcing strict conservation measures.
The industries supporting Santa Barbara are mainly electronics manufacturing and fishing, with
petroleum and natural gas drilling five miles offthe Santa Barbara coast. The city of Santa Barbara
also relies heavily on tourist trade.
188 APPENDIX B: A Sample Recommendation Report

Figure B-5 (cont.)           BODY TEXT OF SAMPLE STUDY REPORT

                                                                        Desalination Study page 3

2.1 Site Description
Santa Barbara is an arid region where there is little rainfall. located in southwestern California,
approximately 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles and 100 miles south of Santa Maria. The
mountain ranges, Tehachapis and the southern Temblors, surround the east side of Santa
Fifty kilometres west across the Pacific Ocean are the islands of Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, and San
The current of the Pacific Ocean travels west to east along the coast and carries 300,000 cubic
yards of sand by the city each year. The Pacific Ocean has 33,600 ppm total dissolved solids.

2.2 Special Considerations
The 1990 permanent resident population of Santa Barbara was 345,000, an increase of 16% in
the last 10 years. The shortage in the water supply for 1992/93 is expected to be 80% - i.e. of
the estimated at 16,200 acre feet (AF) demand there will only be 3300 AF available from current
The City of Santa Barbara is currently getting its water from groundwater and two nearby lakes,
Lake Cachuma and Lake Casitas and through the Mission Tunnel.
• Groundwater; 2600 acre feet
• Cachuma Allotment, 5152
• Cachuma Carryover; 900
• Mission Tunnel, 400
Agricultural requirements are not expected to increase by more than seven percent in the next
fifteen years.
Large-scale industries, firefighting and hose stations require low-quality water for coolants, hose
water; or steam generation. This water can have low suspended solids while maintaining biolog-
ical and chemical stability in case of body contact.
                                    APPENDIX B: A Sample Recommendation Report             189

Figure B-S (cant.)          BODY TEXT OF SAMPLE STUDY REPORT

                                                                      Desalination Study page 4

i1. description of the technology of three desalinating methods and an analysis of the different
methods follows.
The criteria for the review of the desalination methods is based on the initial cost of plant
construction, operating costs, real estate required, site requirements, and environmental
Santa Barbara needs two main water quality types:
• Domestic water in residential areas which uses 89% of the total water supply
• And industrial water using the other I 1%
The sea water available contains impurities of about 35,000 ppm and the domestic water
required must contain 500 ppm or less.
A desirable method of desalination will incorporate the following features:
• Be inexpensive to build and operate
• Be capable of producing a large amount of water; 48 million gallons/day (mgd)
• Use the available power supply
• Be able to purify water to the current standards of 500 ppm for domestic use and 5000 ppm
  or better for industrial use

Distillation is the method used most often in desalination plants around the world. This process
involves heating the sea or brackish water and condensing the steam; consequently, the process
requires a good source of heat energy.
There are four popular forms of distillation processes:
• Multistage Flash Distillation
• Multieffeet Multistage Distillation
• Vapour Compression Distillation
• Vertical Tube Evaporation
190 APPENDIX B: A Sample Recommendation Report

Figure B-5 (cont.)           BODY TEXT OF SAMPLE STUDY REPORT

                                                                         Desalination Study page 8

3.1.1 Multistaie Flash Distillation

figure I

              CONDENSING             OONDENSING           OONDENSING
              COIL                   COIL                 COIL


The multistage flash (MSF) distiller has been the most common method of desalinating sea water
since the early 1960s.
The MSF process is based on the principle that water boils at lower temperatures when sub-
jected to lower pressures. Clean water is evaporated by heating sea water and introducing it
into chambers of successively decreased pressure creating a violent vaporizing action known as
"flashing:' The water vapour rises to condensing coils where the vapour cools and condenses
and is then collected as clean water. The condensing elements are coils of pipe containing the
incoming cool sea water which are partially heated in the chambers.
The efficiency of the flash system is increased with the number of flash chambers. Passing the
feed water through a whole series of condenser coils heats it to within a few degrees of its boil-
ing point. Consequently, relatively little steam has to be supplied to the heater, and the less heat
needed, the better the efficiency of the plant.
                                     APPENDIX B: A Sample Recommendation Report                 191

Figure B-5(cont.)            BODY TEXT OF SAMPLE STUDY REPORT

                                                                       Desalination Study page 12

3.2.1 Reverse Osmosis

figure 4


                                  P=HIGH PRESSURE PUMP
                                  T=HYDRAULIC TURBINE
      REJECT                                                                       IN
      BRINE                         RECOVERD ENERGY
                                       TO PUMP

Reverse Osmosis (RO) has become the favoured method of desalination in the last two years in
both small- and large-scale plants from a unit that can produce 250 gallons per day, enough for an
average family, to a plant in Cape Coral Florida that produces 14 million gallons daily (mgd). RO
is most effective at removing inorganic contaminants (mainly salt), ferrous iron, fluoride, nitrate,
and lead. The process is not effective against most organic contaminants or the harder minerals
such as calcium and magnesium.
Reverse Osmosis is a process used by fish. Osmosis is a process in which saline water under high
pressure passes through a membrane, separating into fresh water and high-concentration brine.
The membrane is permeable to the water but not the salt, and the water flows from the more
dilute into the more concentrated solution. Osmotic pressure is the pressure difference
between solutions at which no flow occurs. If a pressure greater than the osmotic pressure is
applied to saline water, this process is reversed and pure water passes out of the saline water.
192 APPENDIX B: A Sample Recommendation Report

Figure B-5 (cont.)          BODY TEXT OF SAMPLE STUDY REPORT

                                                                      Desalination Study page 23

With the new improved synthetic membrane technology, the Reverse Osmosis process is the
most attractive choice for the Santa Barbara area.
Water from the RO process can be sold in two different qualities, drinking and industrial.
The chemicals used in the RO process can be recycled.
The RO process requires no heat, so the salt brine can be pumped directly into the sea elimi-
nating any waste problem.

Though the initial construction costs are higher than the multieffect multistage flash distillation
systems, the operating costs are now lower than other methods.
• Treatment of reclaimed water: $1200/acre foot (AF) based on an annual delivery of 2500 AF
  for 5 years
• Thermal Desalination (MEMS): $2000-$3400/AF based on an annual delivery of 5000 AF for
  5 years
• Reverse Osmosis (RO): $1900-$3400/AF for an annual delivery of 2500-5000 acre feet (AF)

Reverse Osmosis is the most environmentally friendly of the different desalination methods
available. Unlike the multistage flash processes, which discharge hot high-concentration brine
which can be damaging to the sealife, reverse osmosis waste can be discharged off the ocean
shelf with little risk.

Power Requirements
Though all desalination methods have significant power requirements, reverse osmosis systems
use less than the thermal processes. An additional plant would be necessary for the MEMS
process which could only be generated in a nuclear plant - not a favourable source of power
with the public. A reverse osmosis plant could be run on the existing power sources.
                                    APPENDIX B: A Sample Recommendation Report             193

Figure B-5 (cont.)          BODY TEXT OF SAMPLE STUDY REPORT

                                                                    Desalination Study page 26

Tanner & Potts recommends a reverse osmosis desalination plant capable of producing up to
5000 AF of water annually be constructed. The selection of the membrane is critical to the effi-
ciency of the plant. Of the three membranes currently on the market and discussed in the
Report, the Spiral-Wound Membrane, the Hollow-Fibre Membrane, and the Tubular Membrane,
we recommend the Tubular Membrane. Though it costs slightly more than the other mem-
branes, the Tubular Membrane can be used in extremely turbid feedwaters and can be cleaned
easily, reducing operating costs and maintenance problems.

A reverse osmosis desalination plant will prOVide the least problems in both installation and
The intake mechanism must be located where there will be no threat to the marine life. (See
Conclusions, Part 2)
The brine concentrate should be dispersed in deep water which has enough current to dilute
the salt qUickly. Other disposal concepts, such as evaporation settling ponds, are more costly.
The RO process can still operate at less than full capacity when maintenance is required on the
membranes and other mechanisms. But extra storage tanks may be necessary to backup the
supplies if there are power failures or unexpected disruption of delivery.
Power for the plant may be augmented by the construction of a wind farm in the mountain passes
surrounding Santa Barbara.
The construction of the reverse osmosis desalination could be a prototype installation for other
communities along the coast as a comparison to the distillation plant now operating in San
Diego. Agriculture can become a reality again in Santa Barbara.
Abstracts, 39                             Credentials package, I 10
Agendas, writing, 169                     Curriculum vitae (personal
AMS letter style, 93-94                          resume),III,1I2-114
Analysis reports, 138-139, 140            Cyrus II the Great, 15
Apostrophe, In
Appendixes, 134                           Dash,I80
Application letter, 106-108               da Vinci, Leonardo, 12
Arnold, John E., 9, 16                    De Bono, Edward, II
Asimov, Isaac, 13                         Defining problems, 8-9
Attention line, 86-87                     Definition, 19
                                          Desalination study report,
Badqround, 132, 187                               excerpts, 183-193
Bibliography, 57-61, 134                  Description, 27-32
Brackets, In                                 site, 32
                                          Discussion, 129, 132-133
Call for credentials, I 10, I 15          Documentation, 57-61
Capitalization, 178                          profesSional, 81-82
Carter, E. Finlay, 13                        project log, 82
Cause and effect, 35-36                      research,57-61
Charts, bar, 67-69                        Drafts, first, 52-55
   flow, 68-69                            Drawings, 65, 72
   organizational, 70                        block,72
   pictorial, 70-71                          riser, 72
   pie/circle, 67                            schematic, 69
Clustering for content, 48-50
Coherence,chrono~gic~,30-31               Einstein, Albert, I3
  spatial,30                              Ellipsis, 180
Colon, 178                                Enc~sure line, 90
Comma, 179                                Engineering process, chart of, 6
Company profile, 110-111                  Enve~pes, 84
Comparisons, 31, 35                       Evaluation reports, 138-139
  analogies, 31-32                        Executive summary, 100, 130
Complimentary close, 89                   Explanations, 27, 32-36
Concept report, 137-138                   Expression of interest, 98-99
  meeting, 173
Conclusions, 133                          Facsimile (fax) memo, 95
Conference paper, 166-168                 Field reports, 154-156
Construction schedule, 76                    sample, 156
Content, 3                                Flanagan, Denis, 10, 13
  external sources, 50-52                 Flowchart, 68-69
  self-generating, 46-50                  Full block letter, 90-92, 102
Continuing pages, letter, 88-89
Copy line, letters, 90                    Gender-neutral language, 20-21
Corporate resume, 110-112                 Glossary, 186
196   Index

Grammar problems, 21-25                   example of excerpt, 33
Graphics, 64-73                           sample pages, 162-165
                                        Maps, 71
Headings and numbering, 134-137         Mechanical processes, explanation of,
Hyphen, 180                                    32-36
                                        Meetings, 169-176
Implications, 133, 193                    agendas, 169-170
Instructions, 32, 33-36                   minutes, 172
Introduction, 132, 187                    note-taking, 41-42, 170-171
Invitation:                               types of, 173-174
   for services, I 15                   Memos, 94-95
   to tender, 147                         facsimile, 95
                                        Methodology, 133
Journal articles, 166-168               Minutes of meetings, 172
                                        Modifiers, misused, 23
Lateral thinking, I I
Layouts, 64, 86                         Nonsexist language, 20-21
    letter, 83-84, 86                   Note-taking, 41-42
letterhead, 86                            in meetings, 41-42, 170-171
Letters, content, 97-108                Numbering systems:
    application, 106-108                  in manuals, 158
    bad news, 103                         in reports, 134, 135-137
    complaint, 103-105                    in specification documents, 152
    general,97                          Numbers, 181
    good news, 102
    inquiry, 100                        Objective of writing, 3, 45-46
    interest, 98-99                     Observation/speculation, 12
    refusal, 105-106                    Oral presentations, 124-127
    request, 100                        Organizational chart, 70
    sales, 106                          Organizing content, 52-55
    transmittal, 99-1 00, 101, 130
letters, formats and conventions, 83-   Parallelism, 24
         94                             Parentheses, In
    AMS simplified, 93-94               Persuasion, 27, 36-38
    formats, 83-84, 90-94               Pictorial chart, 71
    full block style, 90-92, 102        Point form, 36
    parts, 86-90                        Problem-solving, 3, 8-16
    semiblock and modified semiblock,   Progress reports, 154-156
         92-93                             sample, 156
Limitations, 133                        Project brief, 137-138
line graphs, 66                         Project log, 81-82
lists, 47                               Project management, 152
                                           completion, 155
Manuals, 157-165                           field/progress, 154-156
  checklists, 159                          meetings, 173-174
  contents, I57                            note-taking, 41-42
                                                                      Index    197

Proposals, I 16-122                       Request fOr proposals (RFP),
   examples, 120-122                             116,119,121
   formal, 119-122                        Research, 5I
   informal, 117-118, 120                   citings, 57-61
   short, 117-119                         Resumes, 111-115
   solicited, 116-117                       chronological, 112-1 14
   unsolicited, 117-119                     corporate, 110-112
Provoking ideas, 9-14                       functional, I 12, 114
Punctuation, 177-182                        personal, I 12
                                            personnel, I I I
Qualifications, statement of, 110, 118,   Revision, 55-57
       120                                  for content, 55-57
Quotation marks, 181                        for grammar, spelling, and
                                                 punctuation, 57
Recommendations, 134, 192
References, 58-61                         Self-generating start, 46-50
Reports, 129-143                          Semicolon, 182
  abstracts, 39, 130                      Sentences, 21-25
  appendixes, 134                            comma splice, 24
  background, 132                            complex,22
  body of, 132-134                           compound, 21, 22
  components, description of, 129-           fragments, 22-23
        137                                  grammatical parts of, 22
  conclusions, 133                           problems, 22-25
  contents, 129-143                          run-on, 23-24
  discussion, 132, 189-191                Sidebars, 66
  executive summaries, 40, 130            Site description, 32, 188
  format, 129-130, 142-143                Specification documents, 146-
  glossary, 131                                   154
   introduction, 132                          execution, 150-152
   methodology, 133                          general conditions, 148
   recommendations, 134, 192                  product lists, 148-149
   table of contents, 131                 Statement of qualifications, I 10,
Reports (specific types):                         188, 120
   analysis, 138-139, 140                 Subject line, 87-88, 91-95
   completion, 155                        Summary, 27, 38-42
   concept, 137-1 38                          descriptivelabstracts,39
   evaluation, 138-139                        executive, 38, 40
   field, 154-156                             informative, 38, 39-40, 170-
   forecasts, 140-141                             171
   progress reports, 154-156
   project brief, 137-138                 Table of contents, 131, 151,
   project management, 152                       158, 184, 185
    recommendation, 141-142, 143,         Tables, 64-65
         183-193                          Taylor, Dr. Irving, 13
    study, 141-142, 143                   Tender documents, 146-154
198    Index

Thinking, types, II                    Visual aids, 64-73
Time schedules, 74-76                     when speaking, 125, 175
Title page, 131, 184
    proposal, 121                      Words, 18
Tone, 97-98                              concrete and specific, 20, 29-30
Transitions,24,31                        nonsexist, 20
Transmittal, letter of, 99-100, 101,   Works cited, 58, 61
        130,183                        Writing process, 3-5

Upset fee, 120                         Ziboorg, Dr. Gregory, 13
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