WELCOME TO CSE285: Technical Writing for Engineering Graduates

A small writing seminar where we will support each other in create\ing important documents over the course of the quarter. The goal is to form an intellectually generous writing circle that will help all participants hone their skills and habits in such a way that all their academic writing will feel more natural over the course of their careers.

Admission to this class is "by instructor permission," but all you need to receive permission is:

1. Be a UCSC BSOE grad student.

2. Have a document you want to work on or produce over the quarter.

3. Email me for a permission code (telling me what document you want to work on).

Can't See Something Here You Were Expecting (Like Forum Access)? Make Sure You Login To The Site Using Your BLUE UCSC Credentials! If you don't have access to our shared Google drive, please email me.


Some Links Off To The Left!

Your Teaching Staff:

Instructor: Tracy Larrabee    Instructor Tracy


Office hour:  No special time, but I am available via zoom or  email any time. 

Tutoring resources:

The Westside/Eastside writing center is available for tutoring appointments and they are working remotely. To schedule a meeting, use  ucsc.mywconline.com. Some classmembers used this service and reported it was easy to get an appointment and very useful.

Class Locations And Dates


Class location: The Web.  We will be meeting through Zoom.  We are only letting authenticated UCSC users join, so make sure you login to Zoom before joining the class. Several classes were recorded via Zoom, and are available in our shared google drive.

Class time: MWF 1:20-2:25

 Resources to make this class a little easier (things to read and tools to try)

Just keep teaching and learning, from CITL

Use English Punctuation Correctly A quick and useful crash course in English punctuation.

HyperGrammar An extensive electronic grammar course at the University of Ottawa’s Writing Centre.

The Guide to Grammar and Writing An older, yet very useful site that will help you to improve your writing on word & sentence level, paragraph level and also essay & research paper level.

English Style Guide - Economist This guide is based on the style book which is given to all journalists at The Economist. The site contains various hints on how to use metaphors, punctuation, figures, hyphens etc. Brief and precise.

Technical Writing An extensive guidance on grammar and style for technical writing.

Common Errors in English A collection of common errors in English, with detailed explanations and descriptions of each error.

The Elements of Style A freely available online version of the book “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk, Jr., the classic reference book.

Mathematical Writing, which is a book that came out of a class I TAed for Donald Knuth.

Grammerly, an extension that can help you write well, but that can also be very annoying.

The Hemmingway Editor is a webpage where you can paste your writing and it will tell you if it is circuitous or overly complex.  I don't always take their advice, but using it always improves my writing.

The One look reverse dictionary well help keep you from being repetitive.

This page on citation styles can be very helpful.

Assignments over the course of the quarter

Each student in the class will be working on one document over the course of the quarter.  It could be an entire Masters Project Report, it could be a dissertation chapter, it could be a funding proposal, or it could be the final report for a different class (or something I haven't even thought of). You just have to have a document that matters to you--a document that you want to do you proud. Over the course of the quarter, you will produce these writings for us:

1. A one page intake document where you describe your goals for this quarter and your challenges. Audience: me. Due April 3.

2. A preliminary high-level description of the project which your paper documents. You must write in LaTeX, but I will give you a template you can use on overleaf.comDo this even if your final document will not be produced in LaTeX. Audience: intelligent non-specialists such as Judges or Politicians. Due April 10.

3. Each student in turn will provide a 1-to-2 page excerpt of their writing.  The class will divide into small groups and rewrite or suggest changes on the document.  We will then discuss the rewrites, and the original author will use all rewrites to produce an improved final document.  Due dates scattered over the course of the quarter.


3. A budget justification where you talk about the costs in time and equipment to complete your project and justify the expenses. If your project is finished, pretend it isn't and justify what will be needed to finish it. Audience: a funding agency such as NIH or NSF or NASA or DARPA.  Example provided by Darrell Long. Due April 13.

4. Document Specifications: An outline (can be brief or detailed), a list of sources you will use, a description of your audience you will be using as you compose your final paper, and an indication of which Style Guide you will use (ACM? IEEE? MLA? Chicago Manual of Style?) Audience: me. Due April 22.

5. A one page Poster on your topic that you could use to present at a poster session (really just a single powerpoint slide). Each student will present their poster to the class, via zoom, and then we will brainstorm as to how to improve the presentation and poster. Audience: the members of the class, or any set of conference attendees you can precisely describe. Due May 22

6. A full 10-15 minute powerpoint (or google slides) presentation on your topic.  The time limit is variable, because it depends on the topic.  We can adapt to the time you think you need, if you make a good case for it.  Request the time you think you need. Audience: the members of the class, any set of conference attendees you can precisely describe, or your project or dissertation committee. Due at various dates during the last half of the quarter.

7. The final document.  This can be used for another class, and if you have a a due date for your other document that comes before the end of this class, it is fine to turn it in early. Audience: whatever funding agency, conference reviewers, instructors, or committee for whom you are producing the document. Due at the time of the final exam for this class: June 10, 1:20pm.

How this class will be evaluated 

If you put in the time to work on your document, you will pass. Just treat the class, and your document, seriously. There is no final exam.  There are several assignments all having to do with your final project, which is your document.  You should make sure you have permission from your PI or your other instructor to use this document both for this class and your other purpose.

Disability Resource Center Student Accomodations

I can't think of any DRC accomodations that would be needed for this course, but if there are, please let me know.  We can talk via private zoom or on the phone about whatever you might need--whether you have official accomodations or not.