Three Engineering Students Win Technical Writing Contest

SOCORRO, N.M. April 7, 2014 – Three Mechanical Engineering students – Corey Smith, Kevin Hill, and Colton Fascitelli – were selected as winners in an international contest called The Briefing Tech Writing Challenge, a competition put on by The Briefing, an R&D news website. The three students won three of the four categories offered.

The students entered the contest as part of an assignment in Dr. Julie Ford’s Mechanical Engineering 341: Technical Writing course during the fall 2013 semester. Ford required all of the students to submit an entry. The three winners each get a $500 prize. The three are all undergraduates. The fourth winner is a doctoral candidate from another university.

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Corey Smith, Kevin Hill and Colton Fascitelli each won top awards in a technical writing contest this semester. These mechanical engineering students entered the contest as part of a class with Dr. Julie Ford.


“I'm extremely proud of our undergraduate students for doing so well in the competition and representing New Mexico Tech,” Ford said.

Info about the call for entries and the competition rules can be found here:

The blog post announcing the winners (and giving a shout-out to NMT) can be found here:  http://the-briefing.com/blog/and-the-winners-are/">http://the-briefing.com/blog/and-the-winners-are/ That post includes links to each of the students' papers, which are published on the site.

Ford said she’s gratified that three engineering students won a national writing contest.

“Often students come into my class operating under the assumption that they can’t write because they’re engineers,” Ford said. “But that’s absolutely not true, and their success in this competition hopefully helps debunk that myth a little bit.”

The competition asked entrants to write short pieces – 700 to 1,200 words – about a research or design issue. Each of the winners were elated to have won the contest. Hill said he was a bit surprised to learn he had won.

 “It’s really neat because it’s a class project and I get a good grade … and a cash prize,” he said. “I enjoy writing in a literary sense and I wanted to show that good writing isn’t inconsistent with technical ideas.”

Hill is a junior who graduated from Hope Christian High School in Albuquerque. He hopes to enter a master’s program after finishing at Tech and eventually earn a doctorate in either solid mechanics or nuclear engineering. He said Ford’s class has been a real learning experience.

“Dr. Ford’s class helps in communication range because it really polishes our writing skills,” Hill said. “She’s a brilliant technical communicator, but not an engineer. She can say, ‘It’s well-written, but I don’t understand it.’ That helps me bridge the gap and write to make more people understand. For an engineer, it’s important to interface with people who aren’t engineers.”

All three students said the class helped them develop communication skills..  Smith said she feels like she is better prepared for the workplace and the expectations of an engineer.

 “I know it has definitely helped let me know exactly what is expected and helps to improve on those skills that we’re trying to develop in design,” Smith  said. “The class gives us a better idea of what style is needed and what sort of information is important … and what we need to communicate.”

Smith is a senior who graduated from Auburn Mountain View High School in Auburn, Wash. She hopes to enter the workforce in the aerospace industry after graduation.

She wrote her contest entry about the history of the development of the “blended wing” design in aircraft, which is not related to her senior design project.

“Wing design is something that’s always interested me,” she said. “And I’m hoping to go into aerospace after college. I thought it’d make an interesting paper.”

Colton Fascitelli wrote about nanotechnology as an integral part of future medical breakthroughs and

He wrote, “As technology continues to advance and play a greater and greater role in modern society, what would be the conceivable next step in this technological evolution? This is the question that has many scientists and engineers scratching their heads. The answer is something so small that the human eye can’t see. The answer is nanotechnology.”

Fascitelli graduated from Eldorado High School in Albuquerque. He is undecided about his post-graduation plans, but is considering aerospace engineering for a career.

“The class definitely helped a lot through practice,” Fascitelli said. “Dr. Ford helped us with our communication skills, but also with confidence and not being so scared of presenting.”

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech