Writing as an Engineer or Scientist


A large gap exists between the instruction given in general writing courses and the expectations placed on young engineers and scientists in their professional emails, reports, and proposals. To bridge this gap, my team in the College of Engineering at Penn State has interviewed many young engineers. The result is this website's collection of short films, each of which targets a specific void in the gap. In 2021, this collection received more than 100,000 film views. You are more than welcome to view, link to, or assign these films.

Michael Alley
Teaching Professor, Leonhard Center
College of Engineering, Pennsylvania State University
Author, The Craft of Scientific Writing (Springer, 2018)




Writing as an Engineer or Scientist
1. Importance of Our Writing   (2:00)
2. Why General Writing Is Not Enough   (2:00)
3. Analyzing Audience   (3:59)
4. Analyzing Purpose   (3:52)
5. Analyzing Format and Formality   (5:57)
6. Process: Writing as a Team   (6:43)








Writing Reports
1. Organization of Reports   (5:05)
2. Writing in Sections   (5:29)
3. Incorporating Illustrations   (3:47)
4. Being Precise and Clear   (4:32)
5. Avoiding Ambiguity   (4:30)
6. Connecting Ideas: Overview   (6:06)
7. Cutting Needless Words   (4:33)






Writing Emails
1. Analyzing What the Audience Knows   (2:04)
2. Analyzing Why the Audience Is Reading   (1:19)
3. Analyzing How the Audience Will Read   (2:31)
4. Subject Line   (4:40)
5. Beginning Paragraph   (4:34)
6. Middle Paragraphs   (3:13)
7. Ending Paragraph   (1:15)







Writing Research Papers
1. Organization of Research Papers   (3:05)
2. Organization of Introductions   (4:14)
3. Being Precise and Clear   (2:21)
4. Avoiding Ambiguities   (4:30)
5. Connecting Ideas   (6:06)
6. Incorporating Illustrations   (3:32)
7. Incorporating Equations   (2:01)






Essence of Grammar
1. Grammar: Sentences versus Fragments   (5:30)
2. Grammar: Avoiding Run-Ons   (3:28)
3. Punctuation: Commas   (7:19)
4. Usage: Choosing the Right Word   (4:43)
5. Usage: Verb Tense   (4:28)
6. Usage: Expressing Numbers   (4:48)

Leonhard Center, Penn State
University Park, PA 16802

Content Editor: Michael Alley