The University of Missouri-Rolla plans to soon offer bachelor of science and master of science degrees in technical communication to respond to the need for qualified technical communicators in business and industry. The program is unique among other similar degrees offered in Missouri because it will allow students to work alongside engineering and science students on such projects as the national championship UMR Solar Car Team and other student design teams.
The University of Missouri Board of Curators approved UMR’s proposal for the degree programs at its meeting Thursday, Sept. 9, in Mount Vernon, Mo. The proposal now goes before the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education for final approval.
The degree is an outgrowth of the minor in technical writing currently offered in the English and technical communication department at UMR, but it will be more than a simple technical writing degree, says Dr. Larry Vonalt, chair and associate professor of English and technical communication.
"Technical writing is an important piece of the degree program," Vonalt explains, "but we will equally emphasize oral and visual communication, with a firm foundation of technical knowledge and theory of communication."
Given UMR’s strengths in engineering and science, a degree program in technical communication seemed like a natural progression, Vonalt says. "Our students will have the opportunity to work alongside students on design projects even as team members that isn’t available at many other campuses."
Using existing faculty and newly developed courses, the new bachelor of science degree program will build on a strong technical base in information systems. In addition to technical writing basics, students will learn theory and practice of layout and design, technical editing, script writing, proposal writing and video production.
The master of science degree is aimed at people in the workforce who want to come back to school to enhance their abilities for advancement, as well as students who complete the bachelor of arts program in English and want to pursue a master’s degree. The program will also suit students who earn a degree in a technical field and are interested in communications.
"Technical communication is more than just writing computer software manuals," Vonalt says. "All kinds of business and industry have a need for technical communication in all kinds of positions."
For more information about the undergraduate or graduate degree programs in technical communication at UMR, contact the UMR admissions office at (573) 341-4164.