English department will offer technical communication major

Laura Kennedy

The Department of English will be offering a new undergraduate major in technical communication starting in fall 2001.The Iowa Board of Regents recently passed the new technical communication major, and the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing identified Iowa State as the only school to offer a bachelor of science in technical communication in the state of Iowa, said Rebecca Burnett, professor of English.According to a pamphlet about the course, the technical communication major will teach students to compose a wide range of print and electronic documents for use in business, industry, schools and other institutions and communities.Also, the pamphlet stated that the course work will help students to understand scientific and technical information and teach strategies for producing texts to communicate that information to others.Gloria Betcher, academic adviser for English, said faculty members, advisers and administrators are enthusiastic about the options the technical communication major will have to offer.”It allows for the integration of verbal and scientific aspects,” she said.Programs in the past have not given students the type of flexibility the technical communication major will give, Betcher said.She also said a minor in technical communication will be an alternative for students who want to focus on their primary major.”They can then integrate the elements of the technical communication program that they are most interested in,” she said.The minor will require six credits of course work in theory and history and 12 credits of course work in principles, practices and technologies, Betcher said.Burnett said the new major will be good for students who may start out in computer science or an engineering field and decide it is not the right major for them. She said the technical communication major will provide an option that will allow them to use their technical background in a professional way.”It is for students that have an interest in technical things and a talent in communication to put those things together,” Burnett said.The major will prepare students to be professional in the workplace and give students strategies to compete with others in a rapidly changing workplace in the future, she said.Burnett also said the technical communication major will help students communicate ideas more easily.”It helps in the area of print and electronic documents, and it includes a range of institutions such as computer industries, hospitals, government agencies and engineering firms,” she said.Information on the major can be found at the English advising office in 306 Ross Hall.