This collaborative, technical writing project is designed to bridge the gap between academic and professional spheres, and provide ENG 110 students with an opportunity to work in teams to develop technical materials that will be reviewed and evaluated by a member of the Joint Strike Fighter (F-35) relocation program who works closely with contracted technical writers.
ENG 110 Learning Outcomes Addressed:
- Write reports
- Identify the principles of audience and purpose analysis
- Demonstrate effective visual page design in documents
- Demonstrate ethical handling of data
- Write documents using standard sentence structure, usage, and spelling
(Be sure to watch the video produced by Major Puller, located in our Blackboard course. He introduces himself and discusses the needs of this project in further detail.)
Federal government agencies routinely contract companies to produce technical documentation. The company you work for, Jabber Tech, has just been contracted to produce a series of technical communication materials as part of the F-35 relocation project. These materials will provide educational information about the F-35 program to local communities where the new F-35B and F-35C aircraft will be based.
You and your colleagues at Jabber Tech have been tasked with the creation of the first in this series of technical materials: an informational report that provides an introduction and overview of the F-35 aircraft, its history and development, its capabilities, and its general benefits to the community, and an accompanying technical presentation. Major Puller, who works in the F-35 relocation program at the Pentagon, will use these materials to give a 20-minute brief (followed by 10 minutes of Q&A) to local government officials and concerned citizens at the upcoming city council meeting in Sandyville, Arizona.
First, your team will need to research the F-35 program using the official resources provided by Major Puller. Then, to write the report, you will need to determine which information is most important to your audience’s needs and condense this information and design materials to meet the constraints of the rhetorical situation.
The contracting organization for this project is the U.S. Marine Corps. Jabber Tech wants you to satisfy the client’s needs by producing professional, effective materials that will present the facts in a positive way, creating a framework that will ultimately persuade the community to embrace the arrival of the F-35. This is a complicated and complex situation because clearly there are benefits and drawbacks for the community. You must satisfy the needs of your employer while at the same time designing communication that presents information in an accurate and ethical way.
You’ll need to do some investigation to better understand Major Puller’s intended audience. Use the city of Yuma, Arizona, as a comparable model for Sandyville, and research the demographics of this community to gather a more distinct picture of its citizens and the cultural concerns that may arise.
Then, try to get a better understanding the conversation taking place in the civilian community. What are the local’s complaints and concerns? Their misconceptions? Do a google search for topics like “F-35 noise” and “F-35 problems.” Keep in mind that most of what you will find is not official or credible information (and you will not use it in your report or presentation), but it can give you a better insight into the potential attitudes and beliefs of your audience. Also consider how you will make highly technical information accessible to a non-expert audience. What key technical terms or military jargon will you need to define, for example?
Status Report. At the end of week 9, your team will submit a status report to Major Puller. Because you will be communicating with him via email, he expects this report to adhere to memo format. Your progress report will explain how the project is proceeding. You must explain clearly and fully what has happened so far, and how those activities or events will affect the overall project. Your tone should be objective, neither defensive nor casual. In this document, your team’s job is to provide a full account of your activities and forecast the next stage of your project. Remember: If things are going wrong, it is unwise to cover them up — doing so will only complicate matters further.
Informational Report. In our textbook, Technical Communication, Markel defines the purpose of an informational report as a singular one: to describe something that has happened or is happening now. The main purpose of your informational report is to provide an analysis (an explanation of how or why something happens) that offers clear, accurate information to a specific audience. We have examined five types of informational reports: directive reports, field reports, progress reports, incident reports, meeting minutes, and recommendation reports. To complete your team’s informational report, you may need to combine characteristics and styles from more than one of these types.
Technical Presentation. Graphics clarify or highlight important ideas and facts, and this is particularly useful for statistical data. Most speakers use presentation software to develop graphics that offer a visual focus for the information shared. Your team will need to create an effective presentation that has a clear, well-supported claim, is easy to see, easy to read, uncomplicated, and correct. When estimating the length of technical presentation, a good rule of thumb is to estimate 1 slide per minute.