With more than 100 undergraduate and 75 graduate students enrolled as majors, Michigan Technological University’s (MTU) Scientific and Technical Communication (STC) and Rhetoric and Technical Communication (RTC) programs are among the most acclaimed in North America. MTU offers degrees at all education levels, from BA or BS to MS and PhD. MTU also boasts one of the largest student chapters of the Society for Technical Communication in the world. The undergraduate degree was established in 1982-prior to that, students enrolled in STC certificate programs. In sum, more than 450 students have graduated from the various programs.
MTU’s Department of Humanities consists of approximately 40 faculty, about a dozen of whom regularly contribute to the STC program. The 12 STC faculty members teach 21 courses plus a number of special topics in the STC area. Students develop skills in technical writing, editing, technical sales consulting, system design, management, and multimedia design. Undergraduates must complete over fifty quarter hours in the communication core (written, oral, electronic, and video) which includes the STC core and coursework in written and visual communication as well as philosophies of literature and history of technology. In addition to the university’s general education requirements and the communication requirement, STC students must complete as many as 13 courses in an area of technical concentration.
Professor Craig Waddell, director of the undergraduate STC program, comments:
“One of the many strengths of MTU’s undergraduate program in scientific and technical communication is the strong technical backgrounds of our students; our BS degree requires students to take approximately 20% of their degree credits in a technical concentration such as electrical engineering, biology, or computer science.”
The technical and theoretical rigor bodes well for graduating students. The average entry-level salary for the grads is $34,000/year, and 100% are employed in the industry upon graduation. Graduates have traveled across the country to work for companies as diverse as IBM, Unisys, Ford, Whirlpool, Rollerblade, The Discovery Channel, and Dreamworks Studio. Co-op work experience is strongly encouraged and students often leave the classroom for as many as six months to work onsite in companies across the country.
The master’s degree program prepares students for advanced careers in technical communication, consulting, training, and instruction. Students participate in research projects, as well as practice technical communication, while working on academic journals. Finally, the PhD program prepares students for careers in academe by teaching the tools of research design and the application of theoretical knowledge about information readability and processing.
The STC program maintains a comprehensive website of the programs described above at www.hu.mtu.edu/hu_dept/STC_pages/index.html. Within the website potential employers will find a “jobs” link where they can advertise job openings. A “student work” link allows visitors to see sample projects created by the students. Other links will take visitors to course descriptions, alumni survey results, and links to other technical communication web sites.
For more information on the STC and RTC programs, recruiting programs, or co-op work offers, contact:
STC Program Director
Department of Humanities
Michigan Technological University
1400 Townsend Drive
Houghton, MI 49931-1295