Project 3: Definition and Instructions

Worth 14% of your course grade

Important Dates

  • July 25: Post details on your choices for the project
  • July 28: Drafts due for peer review
  • July 29: Due date for Project 3 (no forum posts will be due that day)

The Project Assignment

The company you are working at or doing an internship with is planning a diversity initiative to interest local students in STEM careers (STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). The program is similar to a “Take a Kid to Work Day” event. Middle and high school students from the area will apply to learn about careers and will spend most of the day working one-on-one with an employee (you) to learn about what the career involves.

Your writing task is to create documents that will tell the student about your field and about a task she will do while in the workplace with you. The documents you write for this project will relate directly to the career you have chosen.


Step 1: Decide on the focus for your project.

This project is designed to connect with the work you are doing this summer, since most of you have internships or jobs that relate to your career interests. If you are happy to talk about the work you are currently doing, you are set. Your focus will be to talk about your career and the job you are currently doing. If you are under a nondisclosure agreement (NDA), you can still discuss the work someone in your career does. Just be sure you don’t give away any trade secrets or divulge proprietary information. If you’re not sure about sharing something, ask someone at the company for clarification.

There are two alternatives if you aren’t working on a job in your field this summer:

  • You can focus on a job in your field that you have done in the past. The task will be nearly the same. You’ll just have to use your memory rather than your daily work to inspire what you write.
  • You can shift the assignment slightly to be about a diversity program that brings middle and high school students to the Virginia Tech campus to learn more about STEM careers. Choose an event on campus during which a student could shadow you, like working with the VT Motorsports Formula SAE team or TEK Robotics at Virginia Tech. Focus on a specific group and things they do that relate to your field. In other words, the middle or high school student isn’t just following you around for a day of classes, but as you work on a competition, prepare for a special event, and so forth.

Step 2: Set your goals for the project.
You have the opportunity to aim for the grade you want to earn in this class. The options below outline what you need to do for the grade you want to receive.

Average Work
C project: Write an extended definition of your job (or intended job). For example, you might be defining what a software developer, a power systems engineer, or a game and fisheries biologist is. Your document will be given to the middle and high school students ahead of time to help them learn more about your job and decide whether they want to shadow you during their company visit. Aim for 500 words or less, and design your document so that it will fit on one sheet of paper, front and back. Use what you know about titles, headings, and document design to make your extended definition appealing and easy to read. Your extended definition should be complete, well-written, and include no spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors.

C- project: A C project that has a few flaws in spelling, grammar, or punctuation, OR that has problems with sentence structure, OR that seems incomplete or underdeveloped.

C+ project: A C project that shows a bit more effort. You might include photos of someone doing the job you define or images of relevant equipment or related items that someone in the career field might use or interact with. Be sure that any images you include tie directly to the words on the page. They need to be integrated, not just random illustrations.

Above-Average Work
B project: Complete the C project, and add a short instruction sheet that the student could follow to complete a simple task while shadowing you at work. Choose a task that you can explain in 500 words or less, including any warnings or troubleshooting tips. Your instructions should be free of spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors.

B- project: A B project that has one or two of the following problems: (1) a few flaws in spelling, grammar, or punctuation, (2) problems with sentence structure, (3) seems incomplete or underdeveloped, or (4) incorrect format for instructions.

B+ project: A B project that shows a bit more effort. You might include photos to illustrate the steps of your instructions. Be sure that any images you include tie directly to the words on the page. They need to be integrated, not just random illustrations. Be sure not to violate any NDAs you have signed by sharing photos from your workplace that are protected.

Excellent Work
A project: Complete the above-average (B+) project above, and add a well-designed glossary that provides short definitions of 12 words or phrases related to your career. Keep the words generic, rather than terms specific to the company where you work. The terms can come from your technical extended definition or your instructions, or they can be words that the student would be likely to hear or read while visiting the company. You can include photos that illustrate some of the terms if they will help clarify your explanation. Your glossary should be complete, well-written, and include no spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors.

A- project: An A project that has one of the following problems: (1) one or two errors in spelling, grammar, or punctuation, (2) problems with sentence structure, (3) does not include 12 terms, or (4) does not use appropriate glossary format and style. Note: Any work that is incomplete or that contains multiple errors will not earn an A or an A-.

Professionalism Reality Check
As always, no grade is guaranteed. Your work needs to be error-free, fully-developed, and ready to share with the intended audience. Be sure to proofread your project before you submit it.

Step 3: Create your project.
Do any research necessary to gather details for your project. You can rely on your own experience in the field, talk with coworkers or teachers in your major, and do online research. As you write, use the information in the textbook to guide the way you structure your document(s). Remember that your audience is middle and high school students, so you are writing for a lay audience. Use a friendly, inviting tone with “you attitude.” Your underlying goal is to persuade your readers to follow the same career path that you have.

Step 4: Complete the project reflection memo.
In addition to the documents you choose to write (extended definition, instructions, and/or glossary), you will write a short (usually no more than one single-spaced page) informal memo that explains the choices you made for Project 3. Among other topics, you may want to answer the following questions:

  • What grade level did you aim for, and how well do you think you met the requirements?
  • What do I need to know to understand the information you have included and the details you have used?
  • If you left anything out, tell me why you made the decision you did.
  • Why is the design effective? Why are the visuals effective?

Write this memo to me, using specific details from your project to help me better understand your work. Tell me anything you want me to know about your project before I read it.

Step 5: Submit all the documents in Scholar.
When you are finished with the project, you will write your reflection memo in the Assignment tool on Scholar and give me the Google Share link(s) to your documents. I will provide more details in the blog post for the due date (2014/07/29).

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