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The key values of STC membership are access to best-in-class technical communication education and training programs, career development, professional networking opportunities, and exclusive member benefits.

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STC-ETC Serving Future Technical Communicators

Zoie Timothy

MA candidate, UTK Dept. of English

Marketing & Social Media Intern, International Journal of Nuclear Security

The annual STC-ETC Technical Communication Workshop took place on 2 February 2019 at
The Lighthouse in Knoxville, Tennessee. Organized by the Society for Technical
Communication East Tennessee Chapter (STC-ETC), this workshop series gives students
hands-on practice and professional advice for careers in scientific and technical
communication. This year’s workshop was entitled “Ready for Market: Strategies and Skills for
Workplace Communication.”

In addition to providing ongoing education and networking for professionals, STC-ETC is
committed to helping students launch into the broad fields of scientific and technical
communication. Chapter President Sumner Gibbs, who earned her MA in English at UT and
now works as a curriculum specialist supporting ORNL’s nuclear security training courses,
commented that when she joined, “I just instantly felt like I had found my people.” She hoped
the event would simulate that kind of environment for students. 

The workshops used a multistage approach to discussing skills and issues for technical
communication in the workplace. President Gibbs and Vice-President Savannah Defreese,
another alumna of UT English and now a proposal-writing specialist at DPRA in Knoxville, ran
two workshops where attendees worked through typical technical writing tasks. 


Workshop attendees applied their skills to real workplace problems and discussed with
professionals the pros and cons of each solution. These exchanges promoted networking while
requiring students to think critically about the impact of their choices in the workplace. 


Anthony Rivera, also a UT English alum and now working at ProNova Solutions in Maryville,
followed this session by introducing principles of visual design for use in real-world
documentation. This session complimented the earlier sessions and pushed attendees to think
about the importance of effective document design in professional communication.


The event culminated in a presentation by a panel of professional communicators and
managers from a variety of companies who were at different stages in their professional lives.
The panelists all work in the region and gave practical advice on preparing for careers in
technical communication and on navigating workplace scenarios. Two panelists even shared
important lessons they learned when opening a small business. 


As an outreach event, the workshops focused on recruiting student members and introducing
attendees to the field of technical communication. President Gibbs said, “What we were
thinking about when we were planning this is building community.” 


Ultimately, Mrs. Gibbs commented, the workshops were meant to “bridge the gap between
school and career.” Many attendees were UT students majoring in English and concentrating in
rhetoric or technical communication—or STEM students enrolled in technical writing courses
at UT.


Following this second annual workshop, STC-ETC plans to continue building relationships
between professional communicators and rising professionals studying technical
communication.  The Chapter thanks the UT Department of English and the John C. Hodges
Better English Fund for its ongoing support of this annual event.

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