As you enter into a process of design, you also enter into relationships with those who will contribute to the success of your project. It will be important, from the beginning of the design process and moving forward, to develop these relationships intentionally and with awareness of different situations and perspectives from your own or those of your teammates.

You will need to identify stakeholders at the beginning of your project and learn about them so that you can meet their expectations and communicate with them in ways that help them to be productive contributors. Once you have identified them, you will want to keep learning about their needs and also how you can reach them with specific communications. Whether you are writing an email, a project summary, a progress report, or another form of technical report, it will be important to analyze the audience that your communication is intended for in order to find ways to present them with the information that they need in ways that are useful to them. The purpose for the document should be clearly stated from the beginning (most often in an introduction) because that is where most readers are expecting to find such information.

Critical thinking is another foundational element in good engineering communications. That’s because you’ll want to present information to your audience that is truly useful for them. Ideas that are in the beginning stages of development or that do not integrate diverse perspectives are often unhelpful because they seem unfinished. Deepening ideas by thinking critically about multiple viewpoints and synthesizing information from credible sources adds knowledge (and value) for the audience by deepening their understand of key design issues. In this way, presenting communications that include critical thought can also be seen as a show of respect for your stakeholders.

Five Steps in the Communications Process [1]:

  1. Pre-drafting
  2. Drafting
  3. Revising
  4. Editing
  5. Proofreading


[1] R. Irish and P. E. Weiss, Engineering communication: from principles to practice. Oxford University Press, 2013

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