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Julia WilliamsPresident’s eNotice—from Julia Williams, PCS President

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IDEALS Helps Engineering Educators Assess Studentsí Professional Skills

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Professional skills are vital to preparing engineers for their careers, and students are expected to develop these skills during their capstone design experience. However, many capstone design faculty are uncertain about defining, developing, and assessing their students' abilities.


The Integrated Design Engineering Assessment and Learning System (IDEALS) project provides assessments and instructional materials that facilitate the learning and assessment of both professional skills and design practices. In the context of team-based design projects, IDEALS helps students to think critically, draw from previous knowledge, explore new ideas, and learn from challenges - all vital skills for professional and personal advancement. Communication is only one professional skills area that is addressed in IDEALS.

IDEALS is funded by the National Science Foundation and developed by a multi-university consortium. You can learn more at their Web site.


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From time to time, PCS will share recommendations of great articles from the archives of the IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication that might interest you. Our first recommendation is "Targeting an audience of robots: Search engines and the marketing of technical communication business websites" by J.B. Killoran, which appeared in the IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication in 2009.

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Killoran's article was recommended by former Transactions editor Jo Mackiewicz: "Killoran's surveyed 240 principals in technical communication businesses, interviewed half of them, and analyzed their websites to determine the extent to which they tried to reach prospective clients via the intermediary of search engines. He found that search engines help businesses but that pursuing the 'audience of robots' requires investments many business principals hesitate to make. This robust study adds to our understanding of both web findability and to technical communication as a business."

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Click here to see the article. (Note: You will need an IEEE Xplore userid and password to view the entire article without incurring a fee.)


Winner of the Emily K. Schlesinger Award--Dr. Muriel Zimmerman

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At the 2012 International Professional Communication Conference in Orlando, Florida, Dr. Muriel Zimmerman, a leader in the field of technical communication education and a longtime member of PCS, will receive the Emily K. Schlesinger Award for Distinguished Service to the Professional Communication Society. Recipients of the Schlesinger Award are recognized for their outstanding service to the Society as evidenced by exceptional performance in Society leadership.

The award is named for Dr. Emily K. Schlesinger, a member of PCS since 1964 and Senior Member of IEEE. Dr. Schlesinger was president of the Society in 1976 and 1977. During that time, she regularized publication of the PCS Transactions and, when she could find no one to edit the Newsletter, took on the job herself, producing some 80 pages annually.

Muriel's contributions to PCS are numerous, as she has served on the AdCom in multiple roles as Secretary and Awards chair, to name a few. Muriel is also co-author with James Paradis of The MIT Guide to Engineering and Scientific Communication, 2nd edition (June 2002). She is now retired from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she was Director of the Writing Program from 1991-1998. She also served as a Lecturer in the Writing Program at MIT. With this award, we recognize the importance of volunteers to the continued work of the IEEE Professional Communication Society.



PCS Volunteer Opportunity--Digital Content Editor Internship

PCS needs your help! We are looking for a digital content editor to revise and update our website, link to appropriate articles, podcasts, and videos, and maintain the overall look and feel of our online repository. If you have first-class editing skills, are comfortable navigating through basic web technologies, and can work remotely, then this may be a great opportunity for you.

You can read the complete position description on the PCS Web site.

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