Customizing/Tracks-Department of English - Carnegie Mellon University

Customizing/Tracks

Technical Communication (TC) | Scientific and Medical Communication (SMC)

The B.S. in Technical Writing recognizes the important changes taking place in communication-based careers and includes two distinctive "tracks," one in Technical Communication (TC) and one in Scientific and Medical Communication (SMC). Both tracks begin with a common core of foundation courses in print and on-line communication as well as a shared set of pre-requisites in math, statistics, and computer programming. The two tracks differ in the set of theory/specialization courses beyond the core, with each track including a specialized set appropriate to its focus.

In both the TC and SMC tracks, TWC students work on real projects for actual clients, learn group interaction and management skills, and develop a flexible repertoire of skills and strategies to keep up with the rapid advances in software and technology. Above all else, they focus on developing structures and information strategies to solve a broad range of communication and information design problems.

Technical Communication (TC) Track

The Technical Communication track (TC) prepares students for careers in the rapidly changing areas of computer-based communication. Students learn the fundamentals of visual, verbal, and on-line communication as well as the technical skills needed to design, communicate, and evaluate complex communication systems and to manage the interdisciplinary teams needed to develop them. Students become fluent in both print-based and electronic media across a variety of information genres and learn to design information for a range of specialist and non-expert audiences. The TWC/TC major can be pursued as a primary major within H&SS or as a secondary major for students in other Carnegie Mellon colleges with an interest in combining their specialized subject matter knowledge with strong writing and communications skills. Graduates of this track are likely to follow in the footsteps of previous Technical Writing students from Carnegie Mellon who are currently employed as web designers, information specialists, technical writers, and information consultants in a range of technology and communication-based organizations including IBM, Microsoft, Apple, and Intel, all of whom actively recruit on the Carnegie Mellon campus. [return to top]

Theory/Specialization Courses-Technical Communication Track (3 courses):

Complete 3 advisor-approved courses structured as follows. At least one of the three must be chosen from the "Recommended" options below. The remaining 2 courses can be from the "Recommended" or "Additional Options" lists.

Recommended Options

76-359

Planning and Testing Documents

76-397 Instructional Text Design*
76-491 Rhetorical Analysis
76-419 Communication Revolutions and Technologies
76-474 Software Documentation
76-481 Writing for Multimedia*

Additional Options

76-301 Internship
76-318 Communicating in the Global Marketplace
76-385 Introduction to Discourse Analysis
76-386 Language and Culture
76-387 Sociolinguistics
76-389 Rhetorical Grammar
76-395 Science Writing
76-397 Instructional Text Design
76-419 Communication Revolutions and Technologies
76-428 Visual/Verbal Communication
76-476 Rhetoric of Science
76-492 Rhetoric of Public Policy
39-605 & 39-606 Engineering Design Projects

Technical Communication Electives (3 courses)

Complete 3 advisor-approved electives in management, technology, and social issues, chosen from the following options. Additional options may be advertised on a semester-by-semester basis. Note that at least some of these courses may have prerequisites. Please check course listings for details and plan accordingly. Courses in this category may double count for both the TWC/TC degree and a major or minor in another department.

05-410 Human-Computer Interaction Methods
05-413 Human Factors
05-499 Special Topcs in HCI
15-105 Principles of Computation
15-xxx Computer Science courses (beyond the 2 required)
19-448 Science, Technology, and Ethics
36-309 Experimental Design for Behavioral and Social Sciences
36-350 Data Mining
51-261 Communication Design Fundamentals
51-262 Communication Design Fundamentals
51-263 Industrial Design Fundamentals
70-311 Organizational Behavior
70-332 Business, Society, and Ethics
70-342 Managing Across Cultures
80-220 Philosophy of Science
80-221 Philosophy of Social Science
80-241 Ethical Judgments in Professional Life
80-242 Conflict and Dispute Resolution
80-243 Business Ethics
80-244 Environmental Ethics
80-291 Issues in Multimedia Authoring
80-341 Computers, Society, and Ethics
85-211 Cognitive Psychology
85-213 Human Information Processing and Artificial Intelligence
85-241 Social Psychology
85-370 Perception
85-392 Human Expertise
85-395 Applications of Cognitive Science
85-417 Cognitive Modeling and Intelligent Tutoring Systems
88-223 Decision Analysis and Decision Support Systems
88-260 Organizations
88-341 Organizational Communication
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Scientific and Medical Communication (SMC) Track

The Scientific and Medical Communication track (SMC) is designed for students who seek careers that focus on communication and information design problems in these specialized areas. It should appeal to students with interests in the health care professions, science and public policy, patient education, scientific journalism and related fields. Like the TC track, the SMC track is designed to provide both the technical and the communication skills needed to analyze and solve complex communication problems. Students learn the fundamentals of visual, verbal, and on-line communication as well as the technical skills needed to design, communicate, and evaluate complex information systems and to manage the interdisciplinary teams needed to develop them. Students become fluent in both print-based and electronic media across a variety of information genres and learn to design information for a range of specialist and non-expert audiences The TWC/SMC major can be pursued as a primary major within H&SS or as a secondary major for students in other Carnegie Mellon colleges, such as the Mellon College of Sciences, with an interest in science or medicine. [return to top]

Theory/Specialization Courses-Scientific and Medical Communication Track (3 courses):

Complete 3 advisor-approved courses structured as follows. At least one of the three must be chosen from the 3 "Recommended" options below. The remaining 2 courses can be from the "Recommended" or "Additional Options" lists.

Recommended Options:

76-395 Science Writing
76-476 Rhetoric of Science
76-494 Healthcare Communications

Additional Options:

76-301 Internship
76-318 Communicating in the Global Marketplace
76-359 Planning and Testing Documents
76-372 Introduction to Journalism
76-385 Introduction to Discourse Analysis
76-386 Language and Culture
76-387 Sociolinguistics
76-389 Rhetorical Grammar
76-397 Instructional Text Design
76-419 Communication Revolutions and Technologies
76-428 Visual/Verbal Communication
76-481 Writing for Multimedia
76-491 Rhetorical Analysis
76-309 Experimental Design for Behavioral and Social Sciences
39-605 Engineering Design Projects
79-330 Medicine and Society
79-331 Body Politics: Women and Health in America
79-333 Biology and Society: Evolution Animal Experimentation and Eugenics
79-335 Drug Use and Drug Policy
80-220 Philosophy of Science
80-244 Environmental Ethics
80-245 Medical Ethics
88-223 Decision Analysis and Decision Support Systems

Natural Sciences and Engineering-SMC Track (3 courses)

Complete 3 advisor-approved courses that contribute to the student’s chosen focus. The courses may be all in one area such as biology, or spread across areas. The basic courses in biology, chemistry, and physics are listed below. Additional options include advanced courses in any of these areas as well as basic and advanced classes in statistics, or engineering. Consult your English Department advisor on the appropriateness of specific courses for your interests. Courses in this category may double count for both the TWC/TC degree and a major or minor in another department.

03-121 Modern Biology
03-231 Biochemistry I
09-105 Introduction to Modern Chemistry I
09-106 Modern Chemistry II
09-221 Laboratory I: Introduction to Chemical Analysis
33-111 Physics I for Science Students
33-112 Physics II for Science Students
42-101 Introduction to Biomedical Engineering
42-202 Physiology
42-444 Medical Devices
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