Case Study: High-Tech Technical Writing


presentationCherry Cwalina, an engineer at a high-tech aviation manufacturer, understands the importance of good technical writing.

Cwalina says, “Clear writing is essential to my position because our proposal is the first impression our customer receives.”

Because Cwalina’s job involves writing responses to proposals for programs, she knows that “writing in a succinct, precise, and straightforward fashion is not only valuable, but a key ingredient in making those proposals successful.”

Like most people in her field, though, Cwalina’s expertise lay in mathematical and engineering concepts, not writing.

“Writing in a clear and concise matter, without the fluff, is my current challenge,” she says.

So she was thrilled when her employer set up a customized, onsite training class from Hurley Write, Inc.

Eager to learn, easy to implement
Cwalina approached the course with eagerness, ready to improve her writing skills.

“I was open-minded about learning anything that would help,” she says. Still, she adds, “I wasn’t sure what to expect in the two-day class. But the concepts taught were very easy to implement and actually inspired me to learn to love writing. It’s empowering to be equipped with the right tools to do the job — and that’s what Pam offers.”

Cwalina was pleased to discover that the course used actual documents from her company to demonstrate the concepts that were taught in the class. This approach gave her a concrete way to understand how she could apply the skills she was learning to her specific writing projects.

Cwalina says that the Hurley Write course “equipped me with techniques, strategies, and different styles of writing.” She learned how to

  • reduce expletives and pronouns to create clearer content;
  • create audience and purpose rubrics; and
  • modify sentence and paragraph length and complexity for maximum benefit.

Cwalina points out that the most important thing she learned from the course is that writing stellar technical content is 80 percent planning and only 20 percent writing.

A major part of that planning is the creation of an audience rubric that determines who the readers are, why they’re reading, what they hope to gain, and how they’ll use the document. A purpose rubric helps pin down the specific outcome the writer envisions. The Hurley Write course helped Cwalina develop both an audience rubric and purpose rubric to use in her own writing projects.

Building credibility
Now, Cwalina says, “I am writing with my audience in mind at all times. Getting buy-in and building credibility among my readers is at the cornerstone of my mind when I write. And reading and writing more has become a standard practice to overcome some of my hurdles.”