Technical Writing: A Judge's Perspective

by Barbara Bruschi, Former GEF PresidentTechnical Writing

Flint Group

 

 

For Technical Achievement, encouraging scholarly inquiry into technical subjects related to the gravure printing process.

he gravure industry recognized outstanding achievements during the awards banquet on the final evening of the GAA annual convention last May in Milwaukee. Among those honored were the three student winners of the Sun Chemical Corporation Technical Writing Contest. Sudipto Mukherjee from Pittsburgh State University, Veronika Pekarovicova from Western Michigan University, and Radovan Sporka from Western Michigan University received scholarship awards of $500, $1,000, and $1,500 respectively. However, the benefits they received far exceeded the money and recognition.

The technical writing contest challenges students to understand the technical aspects of gravure and to search for ways to improve the process. It gives them a glimpse into real issues that they will face when they leave campus life and join industry. In completing the research, students develop a more comprehensive understanding of specific areas. Consulting with industry experts further expands the writers’ network of contacts that could be integral when seeking employment. Furthermore, GRAVURE magazine publishes the top papers submitted in the competition. Adding this accomplishment to a résumé is bound to increase the interest of potential employers.

At this point, you may be asking, “How do I get started?” This fall, the GEF will send applications to each of their educational partners. Read them carefully, making sure you understand and comply with all the requirements, including the color of the pen necessary for filling out the application and the final acceptance date. Read past issues of GRAVURE to understand the elements and content that lead to a winning paper. Talk to professors, suppliers, and printers to develop a good research topic.

When evaluating submissions, judges are challenged to weigh the merits of the research as well as the presentation of the information. As a judge for this competition, I’d like to offer the following suggestions. Plan to spend time on your paper. The more relevance it has, the more compelling it is. Your paper may also meet a requirement for a class, which could result in a higher grade and even scholarship money. Avoid the disappointment of having your paper disqualified or discounted by choosing a subject that is related to the gravure process, as required by the contest rules. State your topic, research steps, data, and conclusions clearly so that the topic is obvious and your research method and data support your conclusion. Use charts, tables, or diagrams to summarize your data and to clarify the results for your audience. Finally, pay very close attention to grammar and spelling. Nothing detracts from a paper more quickly than incomplete sentences, verb disagreement, and misspelled words. Give a final copy to an English major to proofread for you. Give a copy to someone outside the printing field to determine if it is clear enough to understand without a printing degree. And finally, have another printing major or professor read it for accuracy.

Will you be one of next year’s winners?

For more information contact Phil Pimlott at ppimlott@gaa.org.