Major Assignments

Writing Assignments

All of your assignments will be submitted to our Blackboard (Bb) course site unless I inform otherwise.  You will use the CCNY database for your research. Due dates for all assignments can be found in the class schedule.

Assignment#1 Formal Letter of Introduction

This assignment is a practice in writing professional letters. This is a formal letter addressed to me. You will write about your major and your career goals, your short term and long term goals/ plans/ wishes/ dreams.

Imagine what your future will be and the importance the field of engineering will play in that world. How do you imagine problems will be solved by engineers? Be creative.


Format: Letter. Put the sender’s and receiver’s addresses on the top. Put the date. This is a formal letter, addressed to me (use the school address), and signed at the end by you. Type in 12 point New Times Roman font, 1” margins, and double-spaced.

Length: approx. 250- 500 words


Assignment#2  Memo

Assignment #2:  You will write a memo to the president of the City College, Dr. Vincent Boudreau, addressing a problem on campus or address your local community board about a problem that needs attention. This problem can be related to renovating or improving areas of the campus (cafeterias, dorms, classrooms, parking etc.) or your community (bus shelters, garbage disposals, street signs, parks etc.). Be creative, think of ways to improve and innovate. The idea is to define a problem and offer a specific solution to address this problem. Remember, the president or community board does not know about this specific problem so you will have to provide the context. Important details can be bulleted for easy reading. No cost estimates are required for this memo. Basically, it will be a memo that requires a follow-up meeting for further discussion.

Format: 12 pt. New Times Roman, 1 inch margins. Paragraphs are single spaced and left justified. Skip a line between paragraphs. Sections should have heading titles that are in bold face.

Length: 500-750 words


Assignment#3 Rhetorical Analysis: Original Research Paper

You will write a formal analysis of a peer-reviewed original research paper (approval required) in which you comment on various aspects of the report. The goal is a rhetorical analysis of how the author communicates information by analyzing the strategies the author uses to achieve his/her purpose in writing the paper. Detailed instructions to follow.


Formatting: Follow APA style. 12 pt. Times New Roman, double-spaced with 1” margins.


Length: 1000-1250 words


Assignment#4 Technical Description

For this assignment, you will produce a technical description that is a verbal and visual representation of an object. Engineers and scientists are often engaged in this type of technical communication in their academic or professional careers. Technical descriptions are useful in describing, in detail, what an object looks like, its process or how it works for the lay audience who may lack the specific language and knowledge. It is, also, useful for feasibility reports, in proposal or planning, and informing the audience of the value of a specific equipment.  Technical descriptions are not simply objective reports, describing how something works. They are, also, persuasive. You want your audience to be convinced of your accuracy, logic and the importance of your description.


Technical Description Steps:


  1. Choose a simple technological item and a specific brand for description: a Swingline stapler, an Apple earphone, a Parker pen. Topics will be determined in class.
  2. Divide the item into its components: parts and subparts. Then describe each part and subpart in details.
  3. Take pictures, and label them. If you use images from the Internet, proper citation is needed. Give every picture a figure number and a caption.
  4. Your Tech Description will have the following elements:
    • Title page/coversheet
    • Outline of the Contents
    • You’ll have to discuss the history of the innovation.  You’ll discuss the innovator, the need for the innovation, and all relevant history and background information.
    • Body: The actual Technical Description of the innovation including the parts and descriptions (graphics). You will have to determine a logical structure: top, middle, bottom, or exterior and interior parts, etc. Arrange the content in an outline format. Use Illustrations/ images and cite them.
      • You may want to add another section on how the item functions or can be used.
    • Conclusion
    • References page.


  1. Research will be involved.  References and proper citation is mandatory.


Formatting: Follow APA style. 12 pt. Times New Roman, double-spaced with 1” margins. Use color only when absolutely necessary, otherwise, figures and graphs should be clear. Include a page header (“running head”) at the top of every page. To create a page header, insert page numbers flush right. Then type “TITLE” (shortened version, not to exceed 50 characters, including spacing and punctuation) in the header flush left in all-caps.

Length: Minimum 7 pages, but in fact as many pages as necessary.


Assignment#5 Proposal & Presentation (Group Project)

This is a group project composed of a proposal and oral presentation. You will be divided into groups in class. All efforts will be made to assign the groups based on discipline.  Your group will identify a need or void that presents an opportunity to propose a specific engineering innovation. The proposal will be a well written focused solution to a problem. This problem can have a geographical application that can be utilized on a micro scale. For example: Portable water is a major problem for many communities globally. Imagine that desalinization does not exist. The focus would be on developing a desalinization plant for a specific coastal community that is experiencing drought. You can also build upon the topic used for your memo and address the local problem within your community and expand on this with a detailed viable solution.

Proposal Components:

  • Summary-Briefly describes the proposed program and gives a statement of qualifications, experience and budget. This section is single-spaced and no more than 250 words. It is included on the Title page.
  • Introduction-This should describe the problem in specific terms (estimated costs are important here), the purpose (what you want to do), the background of the problem or opportunity (show your readers that you understand the problem, the circumstances that led to its discovery), identify the sources of your information (research relevant literature), scope of proposal (what you will accomplish and not accomplish), organization of proposal, and any key terms in the proposal (define unusual and specialized terms).
  • Proposed Program-Technical description of the innovation with graphics and spec sheets
  • Innovation Process-This will include COST, TIME, MATERIALS, DESCRIPTION OF MATERIALS, LABOR-POWER… and all other necessary and important factors.  (These components can be rough estimates and theoretical if need be.  You can draw this information from the production and data of similar and previously invented innovations).
  • Appendices-Includes a task schedule and a description of evaluation techniques.
  • References and proper citation are mandatory.



Presentation Component:

  • You will be given half a class session to propose your innovation. YOU WILL NEED PRESENTATION MATERIALS!  You can use charts, pictures, graphs…  You can supply handouts. You can use the dry-erase or chalk boards.  You will manufacture your own poster-board-style presentations materials…  But the most effective presentation tool I’ve seen in class has been a PowerPoint projection presentation (so go with that).
  • Every member of your group (for which you will have a name) will participate in the presentation. You will be required to report what each member of the group did for the project.
  • Your classmates will challenge and ask questions if they like.
  • You will notice there are several components to the project. You will have to determine among yourselves who will be responsible for which project components.  Identify individual strengths and work with those.  Who is your team leader?  Who’s the best speaker?  Who’s best and most familiar with PowerPoint?  Who’s the best writer?

You will produce your own work at home but turn your work and production into your group in class-workshop sessions to have your material commented on, proofread, edited, changed, etc. by your group.  (You will work and conceive in class and over email – but produce at home.)

Format: APA

Length: approx. 12-15 pp.


Assignment#6 Portfolio and Class Self-Reflection (1000-1250 words)

The Portfolio and Self-Assessment Essay are in many ways the most important documents that you’ll create for this class. Assembling the Portfolio will help you to see your progress as a writer over the course of the semester, and the Self-Assessment Essay will give you the chance to evaluate that work based on your own criteria as well as the course learning objectives.

The Portfolio should include, at a minimum, the Self-Assessment Essay; revised and edited versions of your Rhetorical Analysis Essay, Visual Argument + Essay, and Researched Argument Essay; and any additional documents (or portions of documents) you composed over the semester that help you demonstrate the extent to which you’ve met the course learning objectives and developed your understanding of writing and argument.

Detailed information on the Portfolio and Self-Assessment will be handed out separately.


Other Writing Assignments

Writing is a social act; it takes place in a community of peers. Every essay assignment in this sequence is drawn from a long history of essay writing. As writers, we both follow the format of the existing genre and, in writing, add our own spin to the genre. We’re taking part in a cultural tradition, but we’re doing so, usually, in isolation: sitting alone in front of a computer. For this reason, we need input. We need to learn from our fellow writers whether we’ve hit or missed the mark. And if we’ve missed it, how can we get closer?


While everyone would like genuine feedback, our primary goal is to create a positive, supportive learning environment. No one benefits from being made to feel bad about their writing. While suggestions to writers can sometimes be painful to hear, they should never be intentionally hurtful. They also shouldn’t be overly rosy. No one benefits from being told that their essay is so good that it doesn’t need any work at all.


Discussion Board Posts (DBP 150 words, unless otherwise noted in the assignment)

The DBP gives you a chance to think through and respond to the reading before class. For each DBP, I’ll provide you with a prompt. Usually, the prompt will ask for a specific response; the DBPs will be evaluated based on how well you respond to the question. While these posts will ask for specific information, the DBPs are informal. You won’t be evaluated for typographical and grammatical correctness as long as these issues don’t interfere with your meaning.


Discussion Board Comments (DBC 50-100 words)

For discussion board comments, you’ll not only have to post a response but also engage your classmates in discussion. Your goal, here, is to further the discussion, to ask meaningful questions, and to extend your thinking on the subject. As with your primary posts, these responses are informal. I expect at least 1 comment on 2 other posts in your group.