Scientific and Technical Communication (STC) prepares students to become versatile communicators who make scientific, technical, and practical knowledge accessible to a wide range of audiences in a variety of media. In our challenging and complex communicative-rich times, technical communicators manage communication processes—develop and streamline document content and design within organizations. Students have opportunities to blend theoretical perspectives, complex research questions, and hands-on experience as they engage in this dynamic field.
"STC at Michigan Tech builds the perfect bridge between those who do science and those who use it. I participated in a grant project sponsored by the National Science Foundation, which allowed me to travel with a group of student researchers to the National University of Singapore. I spent three weeks helping them learn to use social media as a powerful science communication tool."
Students gain foundational concepts and skills that prepare them for advanced work in STC concentrations. See the Michigan Tech undergraduate course catalog for additional information on these and all other undergraduate humanities courses.
Major Core Courses
- Introduction to the Field of Scientific and Technical Communication
- Introduction to Digital Media
- Graphic and Information Design
- Public Speaking and Multimedia
- Professional Development
- Technical and Professional Communication
- Grammar and Usage in Society (or) Editing
- International Technical Communication
- Usability and Instructions Writing
- Advanced Practicum in STC
- Major Electives: 24-47 credits Science Writing or Business Communication or Digital Rhetorics and Design or Writing
- Modern Languages requirement: 6 credits
- Free Electives: 5-20 credits
- General Education Courses: 39 credits
For specific information about degree requirements, please contact Humanities Undergraduate Advisor, Maria Bergstrom.
BA Versus BS
What are the differences between Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BS)?
Though the degree itself takes its name from the larger rubric of "Scientific and Technical Communication," students may choose between two 128-credit streams within the degree.
BS majors tend to take more math and science courses. BA majors typically take more design and multimedia courses. However, BS and BA majors have writing and design requirements, providing a strong foundation in design literacies. BS and BA majors complete an emphasis area (a series of classes taken in a different field of study in order to increase their knowledge of the fields they intend to work in). What students learn in their emphasis area helps them become better, more savvy technical communicators. Increasingly, employers are on the lookout for technical communicators who can show experience in a technical area. BS and BA majors select emphasis courses from any academic program at Michigan Tech.
Senior Portfolio and Presentation
All graduating seniors put together a professional portfolio, About Me description, and presentation of written, visual, digital, and design work that highlights the work they have accomplished during their undergraduate career and represents them as a professional communicator at Michigan Tech. All three components are required to graduate.
Your portfolio exhibits different types of projects you have worked on both in the classroom and in the workplace throughout your time as an STC student. Great thing is you are able to keep your portfolio afterwards or donate it to the department archives!
An About Me description is a 750-1,000-word description of your growth as a professional communicator. You may draw on experiences in classes, co-ops, the STC Student Organization, the Professional Communication Enterprise, jobs, internships, etc., to chronicle key moments of your development.
Your senior presentation is a 20-30-minute public and recorded presentation of your professional identity as documented in your work. The portfolio is not the subject of your presentation as much as it may provide a means for you to represent your professional identity. Your purpose is to showcase your best work and expertise as a professional communicator. You may use your portfolio, electronic projection, posters, overhead transparencies, or other appropriate means to accomplish this purpose.
What Technical Communicators Do
- Produce everything from newsletters to brochures to marketing materials for a variety of organizations and businesses
- Write and edit manuals, design websites, produce videos, and other multimedia projects for various industries, such as the automobile, computer, aeronautical, medical, and environmental industries
- Work with engineers, researchers, and scientists in producing reports and articles for publication in specialized technical, medical, or other trade journals
- Write grants to help non-profit organizations fund useful projects
- Publish computer documentation, and write digital help files for complex software packages
- Translate technical and scientific information into other languages
- Produce sales, marketing, and public relations campaigns
- Compose and conduct internal training programs
- Consult for industry on risk communication, and internal and external communications issues
- Teach Scientific and Technical Communication at the university level (with an advanced degree in STC)
Program Learning Goals
- Understand the social responsibilities that attend their critical and creative work as professional communicators.
- Demonstrate the abilities to write, speak, and design for a range of audiences, representing diverse stakeholders, with competing and sometimes conflicting interests
- Be able to communicate using a variety of media and genres
- Be able to communicate to diverse audiences with a range of needs
Social Responsibility and Ethical Reasoning
- Be prepared to engage in problem solving that results in sustainable designs for communication products
- Understand personal accountability for the impact of products on particular communities
- Demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively and appropriately in cross-cultural contexts
- Demonstrate basic literacy in a modern language and understand its cultural significance
Critical and Creative Thinking
- Demonstrate the ability to consider issues from multiple perspectives
- Demonstrate abilities to evaluate and synthesize information from a variety of sources in order to advance innovative communication solutions
- Be prepared to use multiple research methods to solve a range of rhetorical problems
- Understand how to access, evaluate, and use information ethically and legally to accomplish a specific purpose, with a specific audience in mind
- Demonstrate a working knowledge of current technology that supports professional practices in the field
- Demonstrate the ability to learn new and emerging technologies
Knowledge of the Physical and Natural World
- Understand scientific principles relevant to the field
- Understand personal responsibility for sustaining the physical and natural environments in which they work
Students also have the opportunity to enrich their studies in the major by participating in a variety of study abroad programs.
STC provides ongoing professional development opportunities for students including:
- co-ops and internships with domestic and international organizations and businesses
- scholarships to students attending national conferences and summits. Contact the STC Advisor or STC Program Director to learn more.
- an “STC Speaker Series,” connecting current students with alums through presentations about professional opportunities
- social and informational meetings with STC Advisory Board members and students
- portfolio, resumé, and interview workshops. Contact the Humanities Undergraduate Advisor to find out when the next workshop will be
- Michigan Tech student chapter of the Society for Technical Communication
US News and World Report, 2019
Scientific and Technical Communication professionals are in high demand. Recent graduates work in engineering, research, government, business, marketing, public relations, journalism, and media development.
STC Advisory Board
The Scientific and Technical Communication (STC) Advisory Board is a select group of working professionals, crucial partners in the STC Program's commitment to reciprocity with the workplace. Comprised of writers, designers, digital media and video specialists, and engineers, some of whom are graduates of the Program, board members offer advice and consult with the STC steering committee throughout the year. The Program also hosts an annual, one-day, campus visit for members during which they talk with STC student groups, view student work and Senior Portfolio Presentations, observe classes, review curricular goals, meet with the Department chair, and consult with the STC steering committee.