First-Year Engineering Composition

For nearly 20 years, the Composition Program has worked with Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering (SSOE) First-year Program to provide first-year engineering students with the equivalent of ENGCMP 0200 Seminar in Composition. Writing projects are integrated into the SSOE first-year engineering curriculum, with in-class teaching taking place within the required first-year engineering classes ENGR 0011, Introduction to Engineering Analysis, and ENGR 0012, Engineering Analysis. Students’ writing is read and evaluated by English Department Composition Instructors, who also provide significant, ongoing writing instruction and support for students. 

In the fall term course, ENGCMP 0210, students explore their plans, goals, and decisions as engineering students and as future engineers. Students write about why they are at Pitt and SSOE; what type of engineering discipline/field they plan on pursuing and why; how they are coming to understand personal, academic, and professional integrity and ethics; and how they might continue to pursue personal and professional integrity as they became practicing engineers.

In the spring course, ENGCMP 0412, students pursue individual writing projects that are integral to their understanding of communicating in a professional context. They also engage in a multi-step process of working in teams of 3 to write, revise, and submit a paper to the SSOE First-Year Engineering Conference on Sustainability. Each student team then presents their paper at the conference, which typically draws an audience of at least 1000, including students’ family; engineers and other professionals from across the region; corporate recruiters for companies throughout the region; Pitt Composition faculty; and SSOE faculty, graduate students, administrators, and alumni. 

Beth Newborg, the director of the program, and her colleagues in SSOE have published articles and presented at international conferences to share this model with others. 

For more information, contact Beth Newborg.