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News Archives 2007

Nicky Bleiel, technical communication expert, speaks at MSU Mankato
September 25, 2007

Nicky Bleiel—senior information developer for ComponentOne and Director at Large of STC—spoke twice at MSU Mankato on Tuesday, September 25, as a part of her current speaking tour. With more than 11 years of experience in the field of technical communication, Bleiel's presentation on wikis and Knowledge Management offered relevant information and real-life examples of how this up-and-coming technology can improve communication and collaboration in group situations.

Bleiel stated that every organizational process is dependent upon human communication to be successful. Knowledge management, which is the way an organization gathers, manages and uses both tactic and explicit knowledge, is no exception. She continued on to explain that in order to improve collaboration through knowledge management, the knowledge that is acquired must be communicated to all employees in a way that is useful to them.

This is where wikis come into play. According to Bleiel, wikis, which are a type of website that allows visitors to add, remove and edit the information available, are an effective tool for communication amongst today's employees because of the ease of operation and interaction. They provide employees with a way to write down and share their best practices, which can only better the company and in turn, lead to tangible benefits such as greater profits.

Not only can wikis be used to communicate within the company, but Bleiel also explained how they can provide an important connection between the company and the customer and between customers themselves. She explained that wiki's are a logical progression from discussion boards and forums and if incorporated and presented correctly, can only improve the collaboration of a company's stakeholders.

Bleiel spoke to Dr. Tesdell's English 271 class at 12 p.m. on Tuesday, September 25th. Directly after, at 1:30 p.m., she gave a short presentation, followed by a question and answer session, to members of the MNSU STC chapter. If you would like a PDF copy of the PowerPoint Bleiel presented, please contact Dr. Tesdell.

2007 STC Alumni Night: Carol Jones & Edell Fiedler
April 24, 2007

MSU tech comm alumnis speak to tech comm students

Two alumni of Minnesota State's technical communication program spoke to students on Tuesday, April 24. Both Carol Jones and Edell Fiedler graduated with their master's in 2004 and are now working successfully in the area.

Jones originally received her BA in Recreation, Parks, and Leisure Services. For a few years she worked in disability services but later decided she was ready for a change. During her MA program, Jones worked as a graduate assistant for Tech Trends magazine. Following graduation she performed many jobs including magazine editor, editorial services director in children's publishing, and freelance technical writer/editor/trainer. Currently Carol works with MSU and does some freelance work and other technical communication related jobs. If you would ask her about her career, Carol would tell you that she is "busier than I want to be, but that’s okay!"

Fiedler attended college for a year before she decided it wasn't the right time. After four years of work, she returned to school and received her BA in mass communications with an emphasis in news editorial and public relations. Based on her advisor's recommendation, Edell continued at Minnesota State and received her master’s degree in technical communication. She currently works as public information assistant for the City of Mankato. There she provides guidance and mentorship for assigned programs of the City of Mankato and Mankato Area Public Schools' public information programs.

MSU tech comm almni night

When discussing their education, both Jones and Fiedler agree that their time in the MA program has had great impact on their success. "I think my degrees were very valuable, and they helped set me apart from other candidates." said Fiedler. Not only were their technical communication courses helpful in building their skills, but their other experiences at MSU were just as relevant. Fiedler managed four part time jobs—including time with the Reporter and the Good Thunder Reading Series—while attending classes. Carol's assistantship gave her real world experience, and the core skills she learned at MSU were invaluable.

Experience was also a big part of the ladies’ advice to students. Carol encouraged everyone to "scramble around and find experience, even if you edit student papers." She said that volunteer work is experience, and it is worth noting. "Industry is the value of tech comm." Jones said, and experience for technical communication careers finds itself in all areas. Fiedler indicated that even the Reporter and her secretary work were valuable job experiences.

MSU alumni night attendees

Carol also likes to see evidence of leadership, independent work skills, and motivation. Getting involved with the STC and some form of leadership will easily help in getting a foot in the door. Fiedler encouraged students to "go where the people are," and to learn about their business. If you can bring your knowledge of the company to them, they may realize that they do need a technical communicator in the company.

Students had the opportunity to ask the alumni questions, and one discussion point focused on résumés. Jones and Fiedler both stressed that the length of a résumé is not as important as its content. If the skills and experiences listed cater to the company's ideals and goals, the candidate should not be concerned about the size of the document.

Other questions focused on specific careers in technical communication. The ladies explained that most technical communication skills are important for careers other than just technical communication careers. The important thing is to go where the people are, form a network, and bring all relevant skills and experiences.

Meet an Expert Night
April 10, 2007

Beth Frampton, technical communication expert, speaks at MSU, Mankato

Beth Frampton speaks about technical writing

Beth Frampton, award-winning technical writer from Uni-Systems in Robbinsdale, MN, spoke twice at MSU on Tuesday, April 10. Her company designs and builds retractable roofs for stadiums and other buildings. Beth’s title is technical communications manager.

Beth first spoke in Engl 271-07 (Technical Communication) at 1 p.m. explaining what she does at work. She showed some of her company’s more notable installations including the Uni-dock at the American Airlines hangar at DFW airport, Texas, the Starlight Theatre roof at Rockford, Illinois, and the University of Phoenix (formerly the Cardinal Stadium) stadium roof in Glendale, Arizona.

Beth writes operating manuals for paper and electronic delivery, media kits, and helps to maintain the company web site.

She explained that students who want to be technical communicators should practice some or all of the following skills: writing, software, graphic, design, and photography.

After lunch with faculty and students and a campus tour conducted by Joan Hertel, Beth spoke to a group of technical communication students and faculty at 4:30. She concentrated on her tasks in the workplace, the software she uses, and the wide variety of tasks that she does for Uni-Systems.

Student questions centered on getting jobs and internships: what they need to do to get hired, what software they need to know, and the skills they need to have in the workplace.

Beth explained that technical writers play a translating role in their places of employment but also to their clients. That is, they make technical topics understandable for the layperson.

Meet an Expert attendees

Beth ended by saying that students were welcome to get in touch with her with questions about the technical writing profession or possible internships at her company. The audience expressed their appreciation for Beth’s insights into the technical communication field.


Positioning Scientific and Technical Communication in the Global Arena
February 3, 2007

The University of Minnesota STC Student Chapter hosted a one-day conference on February 3, 2007. The student-oriented sessions, presented by professionals and academics in the field, focused on key tools, issues, and emerging trends in the globalization of scientific and technical communication. The day included lunch, an alumni student panel, and plenty of networking opportunities.


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Last Updated: 01/13/2009