The Association for Business Communication Awards Research Grant to Graduate Student

Written by Peter Ehrhard

Language barriers and cultural differences lead to the need for large, multinational corporations to adopt localized social media strategies. One graduate student at Missouri University of Science and Technology is looking at four companies in two countries to study best practices for building such a strategy.

Yeon Kyung Lee, a graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in technical communication at Missouri S&T, was awarded the C.R. Anderson Research grant from the Association for Business Communication to research the social media strategies of four companies in South Korea and the United States.

Lee will study U.S. companies General Electric and Southwest Airlines and South Korea’s Samsung Electronics and Asiana Airlines. Her goal is to help similarly situated companies in two different countries develop effective social media best practices for producing technical information in a specific language or culture.

“There are marked differences in how cultures utilize social media,” says Lee, a native of South Korea who earned a bachelor of arts degree in economics from Missouri S&T in 2014. “Korean society has a high level of context within the language, while American English needs less context for clear communication.”

For her research, Lee will analyze each company’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube sites over several months and conduct in-depth interviews with each company’s social media representatives. She will then identify the similarities and differences in the two countries’ business communications via social media and suggest guidelines for an effective localization strategy.

“Social media is a powerful online communication platform for businesses to reach consumers and to analyze market trends, because it decreases barriers between a company and its consumers,” says Lee. “An effective use of social media will decrease the costs and efforts for international market research and localization.”

To kick-start her research, Lee was able to earn a technical writing internship with Southwest Airlines for the summer. She assisted in proofreading and editing various company policies and procedures and writing technical materials.

“While in Texas at the airline’s headquarters, I could apply my writing and editing skills, and learn more from outside of the classroom,” says Lee.

Ranade Publishes Article in STC’s Intercom

Amruta Ranade, a graduate student in technical communication at Missouri S&T, has published an article titled “Writing for a North American Audience” in the May 2016 issue of Intercom, the monthly magazine of the Society for Technical Communication (STC).

Ranade is the current president of the Missouri S&T chapter of STC. She is also a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Department of English and Technical Communication and has full instructional responsibility for one section of ENGL 3560 Technical Writing each semester.

In her article, she writes:

A significant chunk of the technical documentation produced for a North American audience is created outside the United States. I know this from personal experience: I am an Indian technical writer
who worked for American companies throughout my career. Overexposure to American sitcoms, movies, and other media has lead us—non-American technical writers—into believing that we ‘know’ American culture. Thus the documents that we create are based on the stereotypes and faulty assumptions about American culture. As a result, our technical documents are plagued with issues caused by a lack of cultural awareness.

Click on the link below to read the rest of the article:

Ranade’s “Writing for a North American Audience”

Department Welcomes Dr. Sarah Hercula

by Taylor Schubert

The Department of English and Technical Communication is pleased to announce the hiring of another professor: Dr. Sarah Hercula will be joining the faculty in Fall 2016.

Dr. Hercula is a recent graduate of Illinois State University (ISU), where she earned a PhD in English Studies with an emphasis in linguistics. Her research focuses on linguistics and TESOL pedagogy.

While at ISU, Dr. Hercula held several positions, including Instructional Assistant Professor in the School of Teaching and Learning, Program Assistant for the Writing Program, and Associate Editor of the Grassroots Writing Research Journal. In Spring 2015, she was honored with an Outstanding University Graduate Student Teaching Award.

Dr. Hercula is eager to assume her position at Missouri S&T and looks forward to working with her new colleagues and students.

Tech Com Majors Attend Conferences in Springfield

In late April, several S&T tech com majors attended the 8th Annual Workshop for Teachers of Technical Writing and the 10th Annual STC Student Conference at Missouri State University in Springfield. The students were Razmus Kerwin, Misty Adams, Andrew Herbert, Shristy Bashyal, Melissa Hollingshead, Shubhangi Vajpayee, Shubashini Gamagedara, and Kenny Wampler.

The following paragraphs are adapted from Razz Kerwin’s trip report:

“On the first day of the conference, well-known tech com scholars such as Sherry Southard, Carolyn Rude, Tom Warren, Mike Markel, and Steve Gerson gave presentations on various aspects of the teaching of tech com — from retrospectives on teaching tech com to a frank discussion about the uses of social media in the tech com classroom. One thing I found particularly valuable at the conference was Dr. Southard’s brief retrospective of her career in teaching tech com. I was fortunate enough to talk with her at length during lunch about my upcoming GTA position and some basic teaching strategies for someone just starting out.

“The presentations on the second day were primarily geared toward undergraduates preparing to enter either industry or a higher level of academia. Shubhangi’s and Shubashini’s poster presentations were interesting and unique additions to the poster session. At the book raffle several S&T students won a free Bedford/St. Martin’s technical communication textbook. The day concluded with a three-person panel of current tech com PhD students who held an open Q&A session about what it’s really like to be a PhD student. It was a real eye opener regarding the level of commitment it takes to accomplish that goal.”

Missouri S&T tech com majors at Springfield conference on April 26, 2012. From left to right: Kenny Wampler, Melissa Hollingshead, Shubhangi Vajpayee, Subhashini Gamagedara, Misty Adams, and Razmus Kerwin

Malone and Morgan win publication awards

Dr. Ed Malone has won the 2012 NCTE/CCCC Technical and Scientific Communication Award in the category of Best Article Reporting Historical Research or Textual Studies in Technical and Scientific Communication for “Chrysler’s ‘Most Beautiful Engineer’: Lucille J. Pieti in the Pillory of Fame.” Dr. Malone’s article appeared in Volume 19 Issue 2 of Technical Communication Quarterly.

Professor Jack Morgan has been awarded the 2011 Michael J. Durkan Prize for Books on Language and Culture for his New World Irish: Notes on One Hundred Years of Lives and Letters in American Culture (Palgrave 2011). The Durkan Prize is awarded by the American Conference for Irish Studies.

MS in Tech Com makes list in the journal Nature

Our Technical Communication degree programs were given
invaluable publicity this past July, when the MS in Technical Communication was
one of 12 listed in an article in Nature.
Nature is one of the most-read
academic science publications worldwide, well-known to many of the researchers
on our campus, as well as alumni. Program director Kathryn Northcut, an
associate professor in the Department of English and Technical Communication,
expressed her feelings about the coverage: “Being listed as one of twelve
programs really validates our efforts to make our program visible and
respected.” The article, titled “The best words in the best order,” appeared in
the Careers section of Nature.

According to Northcut, the article’s main point was that
technical writing is a viable career option for communication-savvy scientists.
Northcut confirms that opportunities for technical communicators may be
greatest when a humanities or social science degree can be combined with
technical education or industry experience. “We’ve had several successful
students who majored in engineering or science as undergrads and then sought a
master’s degree to propel their career toward the same industries but in a different
track. Of course, some students move only through English and tech com programs
and land good jobs as well.” Northcut pointed out that the article reports
technical communication salary figures, which are highly competitive. “The only
negative point was that women still earn less than men across certain careers
in technical communication,” Northcut noted, “but with such information, we can
help our students understand why they must not only be competent, but also
strategically manage their careers and continually hone their negotiation
skills. Our program is extremely diverse, with much higher female enrollment
than most programs on campus, and we directly address diversity issues with our

The technical communication program at S&T is the only
graduate degree offered in the arts and humanities, but the technical
communication bachelor’s is one of many non-engineering degrees offered here,
along with psychology, economics, history, philosophy, English, and business.
“We are a university, not just an engineering school,” Northcut says. “Our
faculty and programs are recognized nationally, not solely in engineering.”

For more information about Missouri S&T’s technical
communication degree programs, contact Northcut at 431-4687 or email Information is available
on the web at

Faculty Awards, 2010

Five faculty members in the Department of English and Technical Communication received awards recently for the work they’ve done on campus. Jack Morgan and Dan Reardon both received 2010 Faculty Achievement Awards. Anne Cotterill and Eric Bryan both received 2010 Faculty Teaching Awards. And Kathy Northcut received a 2010 Academic Service Learning Award. The campus hosted a nice dinner on February 8 for the award winners and their guests. It was wonderful to see these faculty members recognized for the important work they do.