Cadets in Technical Writing and Statics Courses Collaborate on Design for Humanity Projects

LEXINGTON, Va., Aug. 25, 2022—In spring semester 2022, cadets in ERH 314: Technical Communications, taught by Maj. Stephanie Hodde, collaborated with cadets in ME 201: Statics, taught by Col. Jay Sullivan and Maj. Chris Altman. Through ongoing interviews and discussions, cadets in ERH 314 learned about and translated mechanical designs developed by the mechanical engineering cadets for open-source reports accessible to engineering departments at other colleges and universities. These collaborative reports became the basis for another assignment, preparing design proposals for an international client.

Cadets in ERH 314 gained additional technical communication skills to publicize their collaboration. Advised by Mary Price and Christian Heilman of VMI's “Alumni Review,” the cadets created press releases and podcasts about their experiences designing plastic building materials as well as a skateboard ramp for the city of Lexington. In addition, ERH 314 class members John Barker ’23, Nathaniel Coley ’22, and Noah Goldsmith ’22 presented the projects at the Virginia Conference for the Humanities on March 31, 2022, hosted by Virginia Commonwealth University.

The projects provided cadets with experience in evaluating, composing, and publicizing technical solutions for professional and community contexts. This central course outcome links to the broader learning outcome for English majors to identify and use rhetorical strategies in academic, civic, and professional situations.

Hodde is an assistant professor of English who teaches core curriculum courses in writing and ERH courses in reading, technical writing, and artistic responses to social and political issues. She also teaches and is the faculty advisor for ERH 411: Fieldwork, a required core course for English majors. Hodde often involves cadets in community-based learning and service projects across her courses. In previous years, cadets in ERH 314 have consulted on technical materials and tools for Preston Library’s research guides, recycling initiatives, Friends of the Chessie Trail, and Rockbridge Area Conservation Council to develop environmental campaigns and technical tools for local households.

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