Electrical Engineering Writing Interview
Report and Reflection
Purpose of the Report
In order for the student
to imitate the formatting and to learn about the writing style used in their
major, the students of English 109 were instructed to interview someone in
their field. Students were asked to interview a Cal Poly Pomona instructor in
their field or a professional employer. There were some guidelines that were
required in this report, but there was not really any stipulation of how the
actual interview was conducted or the choice of questions. This interview is
also for the next part of the assignment which will include the student to find
at least three pieces of writing in their field. This report is directed to anyone
interested in majoring in Electrical Engineering and to the instructor. I
didn’t really have any specific goals in mind when I approached this interview,
but I did keep an open mind on what I can learn from this assignment.
The person I interview
is an Electrical and Computer Engineering instructor and advisor in Cal Poly
Pomona named Brita H. Olson. Dr. Olson has a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering
and a PhD in Electrical Engineering applied Physic. For Dr. Olson, Electrical
Engineering is where she can be herself. She worked in JPL where she led the
develop of an imager design for the camera on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Athena Rover. She was one of the creators of CMOS (complementary
metal–oxide–semiconductor) Sensor Image. CMOS is a technology for creating
integrated circuits. She is most proud of her invention of CMOS Sensor Image
and her ability to be the lead engineer on a project of JPL. She started
working at industries, small and big companies and other places before she
became part a faculty and professor of Cal Poly Pomona.
Narrative of the
For this interview, the
interview was face-to-face. I ask my department on January 12 to redirect me to
some professors and faculty in my major. The Administrant Assistant gave me two
names which I ended up interview one of them. I actually heard nice things about
Dr. Olson and I thought it would be nice to meet her. I could not find Dr.
Olson on the following week, so I emailed her to ask her if I can interview her,
but I still tried finding her again since she did not respond to my email. I
finally found her later on and she allowed me to interview her on January 22.
At first, I was worried since that same week my department was having mandatory
advising. Dr. Olson said that she might be busy with advising her students and
that her students had priority over me. Luckily, my class got canceled and I
was able to go earlier when she did not have any students to advise.
Impression of the
My interview had many
positive things about it. She did a good job in answering my question. She
spoke in a casual tone except for some Electrical Engineering term that I did
not know about. She seems like she knows
what she talking and very knowledgeable about it since when been in this field
quite a while. I felt that I learned something interesting about her and
something that can help me understand better the writing style used in Electrical
Information that is
Although there were many
positive things, there were somethings that I wish I did differently. There
were some term that she did say that I didn’t understand and that I wish she
went more in-depth on something even though it was a little off topic from the
purpose of the interview. I felt that I should have asked more question about
the writing document she was talking about. I wish I search a little bit more
about the writing of Electrical Engineering before doing the interview, so I
can have asked more in-depth question.
Impact on My View of
Going into this
interview, I did not know much of Dr. Olson; I was surprised that she invented
something many people use. I could not believe she worked for JPL, one of the
companies that is hard to work for since many want to for that company. I also
did not expect that there is so much writing involved in this major. I realized
that the many writing used in this field is like technical journals, conference
paper, technical brief, proposal, research paper, and patent paper including
graph and diagram. Patent paper are like novel that you can claim ownership of
your work. All this type of writing is necessary for an Electrical Engineer
should know how to write to be a successful employee and engineering. There is
also a lot of informal writing since engineering requires teamwork, as an
engineer, they all have to communicate usually by email or just verbal
that Dr. Olson told me that to build credibility in writing is making sure to cite
other people’s work since it makes an engineer look like they have a knowledge
of the field and it shows you can acknowledge other’s work, so you will not
duplicate their work. People will take you more seriously since you can
acknowledge that you took some work from others and add your part to build off
it. In Electrical Engineering, data, engineering terms, and how an engineer do
somethings are the things that are most valued in their writing. Using all
these things will help you writing look professional in this field and be a
desire employee. Emotional language is not really used in this major since it makes
you seem biased.
Adding on, I did not
know that there is a professional association called IEEE (Institute of
Electrical and Electronics Engineer) is where you can publish your work.
Coincidentally, the writing style usually used in Electrical Engineering is
call IEEE style although writing style can vary from company to company. To
cite in IEEE style, you number it in square brackets. The IEEE style for a
short report consist of an abstract, an introduction, the material and method, the
result, a conclusion, the reference, and the appendix, all respectively. It
one-inch margin, 12-point font in Time New Roman or Arial, and 1.5 spacing. I
never knew that the formatting is so technically and precise, but it should be
followed so it shows that you know what you are doing and seen trustworthy.
A good point that Dr.
Olson said was “know your audience.” It helps make the writing easier and know
what you are doing. The main reader are inside client and customers that are
non-engineers. When writing with inside client and other engineer, Electrical
Engineering can be as detail and technical with engineering term that audience
can understand, but when the customer are non-engineering, Electrical
Engineering have to make sure they use term that their audience. It is important
to know your audience. One of the last words, Dr. Olson said was “do not
underestimate the importance of writing, the act of being able to explains
something really clear and understandable is helpful to your audience. It’s a
really important skill to develop.” I feel that a great advice to give to anyone
pursuing in Electrical Engineering since it will help the person be a better
Overall, I felt my
interview went well but like in anything, I felt it could have been better. I
learn more about the career I am planning to major and the writing. I got to
learn a better understand what writing the reader value and consider the most.
I hope my research help other student who want to know more about the writing
style used in Electrical Engineering. I want look furthermore in IEEE and
practice IEEE style, so I can be ready to succeed the writing in Electrical
What degrees have you earn? Any emphasize?
Why did you major in Electrical Engineering?
How long have you been in this field and what are some places or
companies that you been employed?
What has your biggest achievement so far as an Electrical
What has been your hardest writing obstacle in this major?
Why is writing crucial in Electrical Engineering
Are detail significant in writing?
What writing format/structure is used?
(ex. MLA format, APA style)
Should emotional language be used in
writing for this major?
10. How does an engineer
build credibility in writing?
11. What form of communication is used most with writing (formal and
informal) in Electrical Engineering? Typing? Emails? Presentations? Report?
12. Does writing styles change in different companies or job positions
13. Who are the main readers and what are they usually looking for?
14. Have you published anything? If so
15. Are there any great writer/writing that you can recommend me that show a
good example of what Electrical Engineering writing is to be expected?
16. Any advice for a first-year student about writing in an engineering
Appendix B-Transcript of
1. What degrees have you
earn? Any emphasize?
I have a bachelor’s
degree in Electrical Engineering and a PhD in Electrical Engineering applied
2. Why did you major in
It was important for me
to find a job where I can be creative, and I always love puzzles. As a kid, I
was being curious, but then I really love being creative. Engineering is a
place where I can be creative and solve puzzles.
3. How long have
you been in this field and what are some places or companies that you been
I been in school since
the 80’s. I been employed in JPL. I also work in industry, I found that as a
start-up. I have worked in both small and big company.
4. What has your biggest
achievement so far as an Electrical Engineering?
I am considered the
inventor of CMOS image sensors with other colleagues. Once upon a time, people
took picture with cameras that had film and how most cameras are digital an so
in digital camera is a component called an image sensor. So your phone has one
in that you can take picture and if you choose to buy a digital camera they would
have them. Entertainment Industry definitely use this. There is a time where
picture have film Digital camera and phones has image sensors entertainment
industries used it. I also lead a development of an image sensor for one the
mars rover at JPL. I was the lead engineer for that development
5. What has been your
hardest writing obstacle in this major?
I am considered myself
as an abstract thinker, so I hold ideas as images and when I conceptualize
idea, I feel limited in using writing as a mechanism to communicate. It better
when I communicate in form of a picture with diagram which can be a
3-dimensional diagram which can help alleviate some of these writing challenge
6. Why is writing crucial
in Electrical Engineering?
It is extremely
important. I didn’t appreciate that when I was at your point in your career.
Engineering involved a lot of teamwork and you have to work in industry with
people. For example, you have to communicate with marketing so they can
actually sell the product. The ability of writing is necessary to communicate
effectively. I would say if you are unable to communicate effectively in
writing you have cruel limitation because people actually don’t understand the
value of your work.
7. Are detail significant
Yes, extremely important.
I have seen in my career many part fail, not because they were not designed
correctly, but there was a failure to accurately communicate in special
occasion. For example, there was a notable instance in JPL that you might have
hears that there was a mission that missed Mars because one teams was working
with inches and the other with centimeters. Just that simple thing of not
getting the units right and not communicating that accurately. The people
didn’t fail to do their job, but they failed to communicate.
8. What writing
format/structure is used? (ex. MLA format, APA style)
There is technical
journal and our professional organization called IEEE is where you submitted
your journal and conference paper. They actually stipulate the format that they
want, you to use and there is kind of a standard way that people communicate
technical information but it is unspoken. For technical publication, you have
the abstract and an introduction and it’s pretty much repeatable this pattern
that people use to publish academic work. When you work in industry, they
typically have a specification document that you must follow.
9. Should emotional
language be used in writing for this major?
For the Me
Too movement, it hard to say, but typical emotion language is not used. I would
argue with developing technology on human interaction approached than yes, but
in most of my work no.
10. How does an engineer build credibility in writing?
and references. It demonstrates that you have a knowledge of the field and that
show you can cite work that was previously done so when you’re developing
something, you are not duplicating work.
11. What form of communication is used most with
writing (formal and informal) in Electrical Engineering? Typing? Emails?
It depends on the setting. It
depends on who is your customer is, that would be the person you’re interacting
12. Does writing styles change in different
companies or job positions?
When you write, I think the key idea
element is knowing your audience. Like in industry you would call this your
customer. Customer can be internal like a colleague but it can also be external
like you’re developing a product for Cisco.
13. Who are the main readers and what are they
usually looking for?
It depends, since engineering is so
team based, most commonly it’s internal customers. It can also be that you have
a job where it can be external customer.
you published anything? If so what?
Yes, I’ve have written patent,
journal papers, conference paper, technical brief, and a lot of internal
project. I also written proposal.
15. Are there
any great writer/writing that you can recommend me that show a good example of
what Electrical Engineering writing is to be expected?
There is a great one, on
the CPP library search up IEEE journal papers and conference. To access IEEE
publication you have to pay which the university pays. Patent of course, you
can always get them from us. Patent offices are also searchable online as well
a lot of technical documentation that describes how Electrical Engineering
products and Computer Engineering products function.
16. Any advice
for a first-year student about writing in an engineering field?
Do not underestimate the importance of writing, the act of being
able to explain something clear and understandable is helpful to your audience.
It’s a important skill to develop. Communication is not narrow as grammar and
spelling; the more important umbrella is knowing your audience and being able
to explain ideas. The sooner you become in your career, the better it is.
Appendix C- Interview Consent
Interview Consent Form
by: Evelyn Zamarripa (a first-year student at CPP majoring as an Electrical
purpose of the interview it for an English writing assignment and to get a
better understand of how writing is used in Electrical Engineering. The
interview should not take more than 30 minutes and it a one-time interview.
consent form is necessary for you to understand the purpose of your involvement
and that you agree to the conditions of your participation. Read the following
and then sign this form to certify that you approve:
interview will be recorded with a recording device, but it will only be heard
by Evelyn Zamarripa and will be destroy after the assignment is finish (unless
the participant does not agree)
will also be record on paper
summary interview content, or direct quotations from the interview would be
used for the English 109 writing assignment
understand that my words may be quoted directly and summarized. With regards to
being cited, please put your initial next to the statements that you agree
I will allow my
name may appear in the English 109 essay.
I will not allow
that my name may appear in the English 109 essay, so please use a pseudonym.
this form, I agree that;
have read this consent form;
am voluntarily taking part in this project. I understand that I don’t have to
take part, and I can stop the interview at any time;
have been able to ask any questions I might have, and I understand that I am
free to contact the interviewer with any questions I may have in the future.
you have any further questions or concerns, please contact: