Important Note: 11/2009
We are sorry to report that, because of changing economic and other conditions in the university, the department and other university officials have agreed to suspend the MTSC program at this time. It is unlikely that the program will admit students again in the near future. If you have questions about the closure of the program, please don’t hesitate to direct them to Dr. Kerry Powell, Chair, Department of English.
MTSC students take a number of core classes to help prepare them for the profession of technical communication. Faculty members Paul Anderson, Katherine Durack, Jean Lutz, Michele Simmons, and Huatong Sun work to create collaborative, professional, and challenging classroom environments for students to study and explore the fundamentals of technical communication.
Professor, Department of English
Paul Anderson, Professor of English, teaches a variety of courses in both the Bachelor of Arts in Technical and Scientific Communication (BATSC) and the Master of Technical and Scientific Communication (MTSC) programs. Paul received his Ph.D. from the University of Washington at Seattle. He joined the faculty at Miami in 1975 and eight years later became the first Director of Miami’s MTSC program.
Paul’s dedication and genuine interest in the growth and development of students can be seen in his attitude regarding teaching. In his classroom, Paul strives to create an environment that encourages students to see technical communicators as multifaceted and not one-dimensional. Paul also focuses on thinking about a reader’s needs every step of the way when creating a product: “The goal of technical communication is to understand and help other people.”
In addition to teaching courses in the English department, Paul also co-teaches an Interactive Media Studies course. By facilitating student collaboration with corporate sponsors such as Procter & Gamble, this course focuses on creating an interactive online experience that engages and influences the user at the same time. It also allows Paul to share his knowledge about project management with students from various disciplines across campus.
To stay abreast of current practices in the field, Paul consults with business, industry, and government, working for such clients as Westinghouse, Procter & Gamble, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. His consulting work has taught him how hard it is for people to accommodate the perspective of the user, and the value of good communication in the workplace, both of which he tries to help his students understand.
In addition to his work in industry and academia, Paul is on the editorial boards of Technical Communication Quarterly, the Journal of Business and Technical Communication, and the Journal of Technical Writing and Communication. He also has been designated as a Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication (STC), the Association of Teachers of Technical Communication (ATTW) and the Institute of Environmental Sciences Miami University. Paul has also written several award-winning articles, and he is the author of the award-winning textbook, Technical Communication: A Reader Centered Approach.
Paul’s current research focuses on ways faculty can design, implement, and assess formal and informal writing assignments that increase students’ mastery of a course’s intellectual content. In this work, he collaborates with faculty in fields ranging from engineering and science to education and the fine arts.
Paul has won several awards, been honored by his peers, and worked with enormously giving people along the way, but the most rewarding part of his career in technical communication thus far has been “watching students learn and develop towards their dreams and goals. For me that is a real treat.”
Associate Professor, Department of EnglisH
A native of New Mexico, Katherine Durack earned her Ph.D. in rhetoric and professional communication from New Mexico State University. Before joining the faculty at Miami, she worked as a writer, editor, and consultant in the computer industry. Her work as a consultant has taught her the importance of being realistic about what can and cannot be done on a project. “Producing a good product means listening to your clients and making sure that you are meeting their needs.” By communicating with former colleagues and customers, Katherine is able to stay informed of current practices in the field.
Katherine’s dissertation, which received the 1999 Outstanding Dissertation Award in Technical Communication, focused on gender and sewing technologies. Articles based on this research have earned her several other awards, including outstanding article awards for publications in Technical Communication, Technical Communication Quarterly, and the Journal of the Association of Proposal Management Professionals. She has recently completed an article for the Journal of Business and Technical Communication special edition, Research Prospects in Technical Communication. While the title of this article, “Research Opportunities in the U. S. Patent Record,” reveals Katherine’s current interests in U. S. patent records, the piece also reflects her ongoing interests in gender and technology.
She has found teaching technical and scientific communication offers her a rich opportunity to explore with students how communication and design skills function in science and technology.
Associate Professor, Department of English
Jean Lutz, Associate Professor of English, left her native Virginia to study technical communication at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, NY. While at RPI, she and another graduate student founded a consulting business that did contracting work for General Electric and the U. S. Department of Labor. She earned her Ph.D. in Technical Communication and Rhetoric from RPI and joined the faculty at Miami in 1983.
Jean is Director of both the Bachelor of Arts in Technical and Scientific Communication (BATSC) and the Master of Technical and Scientific Communication (MTSC) programs. The most interesting part of these jobs, Jean says, is that "the profession is changing rapidly as a result of technological growth and innovation. It’s exciting to be involved in these changes and to help build a curriculum that responds to them. We want our students to be prepared to face the challenges that await them." To help her envision the intersections of technology and technical communication, Jean is a member of the Steering Council of the Interactive Media Studies Program, a group whose mission is, in part, to help facilitate systematic and well-planned development in interactive technologies at Miami.
In addition to her administrative roles at Miami, Jean is committed to her students in other, more direct, ways. She has recently co-authored two articles on students’ perceptions of authority in the classroom. To put this research into practice, Jean teaches upper-level undergraduate courses in business, technical writing, and editing. She also teaches BATSC students in their senior capstone course and graduate students in technical communication and rhetoric courses. She continues to develop her teaching skills as she mentors MTSC graduate students who teach business and technical writing. Her students have nominated her twice for the Alumni Association’s Effective Educator Award.
Early in her career, Jean’s research into writing and editing computer-generated texts won her a place as a finalist in the Most Promising Researcher competition sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English. In 1998, she published a book, The Practice of Technical and Scientific Communication: Writing in Professional Contexts, co-edited with C. Gilbert Storms. Her current research interests include gender and writing processes and research in medical rhetorics. Specifically, she is interested in investigating the rhetorics surrounding the "debate" between alternative and orthodox medicines. Jean has also published papers growing out of her consulting work with AT&T and NCR. For over ten years, Jean was a judge of NCR’s worldwide efforts in online and print documentation and training.
The most fascinating thing about technical and scientific communication, Jean says, "is the interdisciplinarity of the profession--the variety of subjects that a communicator can investigate and the variety of projects that a communicator can produce. It’s a privilege to be able to learn with students how to perform this work."
Associate Professor, Department of English
Michele Simmons, Associate Professor in the English Department, received her Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Communication and Technical and Professional Writing from Purdue University. Her recent book, Participation and Power: Civic Discourse in Environmental Policy Decisions (Suny Series, Studies in Scientific and Technical Communication, 2007) examines the ways in which citizens are allowed to participate in decisions about environmental policy. She argues for a more critical approach to the decision-making process that encourages significant participation by all affected. Specifically, she looks at how risk and risk policies are constructed in particular cases, focusing on ways in which institutional power relations affect risk communication practices and public involvement. Out of this work, she has developed a heuristic for encouraging significant public participation in policy decisions.
In addition to her book, Michele has written several articles that combine her interests in science, policy, and technical communication. For example, with Jeffery Grabill, she co-authored "Toward a Critical Rhetoric of Risk Communication: Producing Citizens and the Role of Technical Communicators" which appeared in Technical Communication Quarterly (TCQ) and won the 1998 Nell Ann Pickett award for best published article in TCQ.
Before working on her Ph.D. and joining the faculty at Miami, Michele worked as a technical writer in the risk analysis section of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). It was at ORNL that Michele experienced first hand how the audience and the context were tied together, something that she strives to teach her students. "I want my students to understand that bringing in different stakeholders on a project is important for developing effective documents." She is currently working on a book that examines the intersection of public policy, technology, and literacy.
Currently, Michele’s teaching interests include visual rhetoric, usability, and research methods. Other interests include integrating technology into writing courses in ways that enhance the goals of the course and bringing community literacy projects into technical communication classrooms.
Michele is an active member of the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing (ATTW), College Composition and Communication (CCC), and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). She has also worked as a consultant in organizations and several industries including AT&T and MAILCODE (computer software and hardware developers).
Assistant Professor, Department of English
Huatong (Hannah) was graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. Until she joined Miami in the fall of 2008, she taught at Grand Valley State where she was internship coordinator.
Her interests include digital rhetoric; intercultural technical and professional communication; usability and user experience; cross-cultural information design and localization studies; social computing and social shaping of technology; and qualitative research methods.
Huatong received the Conference on College Composition and
Communication (CCCC) Outstanding Dissertation Award in Technical
Communication, 2005. Her dissertation, "Expanding the Scope of Localization: A Cultural Usability Perspective on Mobile Text Messaging Use in American and Chinese Contexts", compares socially situated digital literacy practices, integrating key concepts and methods from activity theory, genre theory, and British cultural studies. It brings social-cultural contexts into user
activities with a new concept of user localization. Huatong’s current articles include “Localizing mobile messaging technology into everyday life;” “The triumph of users: Achieving cultural usability goals with user localization”, for which she received a Technical Communication Quarterly award for best article; and “Think globally of local writing practices.”