As an international leader in the design, manufacture, and service of aircraft, this high-tech aviation organization employs a host of experts. Engineers, designers, technicians, and a variety of other positions rely on clear communication among departments and all levels of management to achieve business objectives in a timely, secure, and accurate manner.
For this aviation manufacturer, writing challenges were present in both internal and external
communications. Robin Casper is a lead designer and draftsman for a flight controls engineering
team. Casper’s position requires him to gather feedback about problems with the company’s
systems, interact with the shops to help mechanics resolve issues, and respond to supervisors’
concerns. But with an audience that comprises mechanics, engineers, and management, Casper
often ran into a challenge that had nothing to do with aircraft design: Creating communications that
speak clearly to all readers.
Outward-facing documents are important for the aviation manufacturer, too. Cherry Cwalina, an
engineer, writes responses to proposals for the company’s programs. “Clear writing is essential
to my position because our proposal is the first impression our customer receives. W
riting in a
succinct, precise, and straightforward fashion is not only valuable, but also a key ingredient in
making those proposals successful.” Like most people in her field, though, Cwalina’
lay in mathematical and engineering concepts, not writing. “Writing in a clear and concise matter,
without the fluff, was my challenge,” she says.
An onsite technical writing course by Hurley Write, Inc., a certified women-owned business, gave
these professionals the skills to address multiple audiences and undertake challenging revisions.
Pam Hurley, Ph.D., founder of Hurley Write, developed a custom workshop for the aviation
manufacturer using employee-submitted samples to guide the course. Cwalina was eager to
improve her technical 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 it’
s empowering to
be equipped with the right tools to do the job — and that’s what Hurley Write offers.” Cwalina was
pleased to discover that the course used actual documents from her company to demonstrate the
concepts 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.
The course exceeded Casper’s expectations as well. “The writing workshop was actually fun!”
he says. “The atmosphere promoted learning and encouraged participation.
And the writing
instructor was outstanding: She kept everyone involved and made the workshop enjoyable.”
Hurley Write’s course left participants with a broader understanding of how to produce
successful technical documents. The customized features, like revising internal documents,
also helped participants fine-tune their own writing processes. Casper learned the importance
of personal review and revision. Now, rather than submitting an early draft, Casper lets his
documents sit for a night before rereading and revising them. “After taking the workshop, I’m
more confident in my abilities. Now, I am not submitting the first draft of anything I write,” he
says. “My writing is to the point and geared for the appropriate audience. I believe my writing is
clearer and more thought-out.”
The course was an eye-opening experience for Cwalina, too. “The Hurley W
rite course equipped
me with techniques, strategies, and different styles of writing,” she says. Cwalina learned how to
create clearer content, create audience and purpose rubrics, and modify length and complexity
for maximum benefit. She points out that the most important thing she learned from the course
is that writing stellar technical content is 80% planning and only 20% writing. Now
, Cwalina says, “I am writing with my audience in mind at all times.
reading and writing more have become a standard practice to overcome some of my hurdles.”