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Technical Report Writing  


Jacob Holt

Jacob Holt
EngTech MIMechE

I could get information down, but the structure was taking so much time and I needed to consider the objectives of the reader a lot more. My writing is more concise and the whole process is much slicker than before.

Verified by an engineer

Jacob has balanced developing his academic credentials alongside practical experience as a Mechanical Designer for Cavendish Nuclear – specifically on submarine decommissioning within the Ministry of Defence (MOD). Having initially rejected the academic route in favour of “work”, Jacob undertook a BTEC Level 3 qualification and then a HNC before commencing a Level 6 apprenticeship.

The route to design was an early career decision; Jacob describes himself as a “sketcher” and the desire to be an engineer has grown organically. As a Mechanical Designer, Jacob has developed his experience working with AutoCAD and Inventor to support the development of new concepts, optioneering and risk assessment to identify new ways of working.

He has worked for Cavendish Nuclear for 7 years whilst studying, balancing a challenging workload with college work as well as achieving EngTech status with IMechE.


Why Technical Report Writing?

I think the first reason was the realisation that professional writing is very different to academic writing. It initially came up as part of my quarterly Professional Development Review – my line manager had taken the course already and explained how valuable it was. I found the content of the course wasn’t so much “new”, but the context was applied so much better than I’d expected.

As I have developed my career, I’ve been conscious of the need to improve my writing – even in academia you’re scoring points for the quality of your writing. I have been very used to working with flexible template formats and had never really considered the objectives of the reader. Things like structure, layout, grammar usage is so important to the reader and getting your message across which is why we felt it would be a great development opportunity.

What was your experience of the course?

Jacob attended the course as a scheduled open course on IMechE’s public programme, which is open to any members and non-members of the Institution who wish to attend.

Attending alongside other engineers from other disciplines and experience levels was a valuable experience. Jacob attended with a number of colleagues and the tutor, Penny Taylor, immediately encouraged them to split up to get the most of the course. “This got us out of our comfort zones but showed that the trainer was keen for us to extract as much value as she could. It meant I got paired up with other engineers. This was interesting as I found that they approached problems in a completely different way to me. Nobody was right or wrong, but the learning process was enhanced by trying to support each other.”

Jacob followed IMechE’s suggestions and brought a copy of his own work to the session. As is common, his work-based documents were confidential and therefore unsuitable, however, his academic writing was used and critiqued as an example by the tutor and his peers within the course meaning he left with personalised feedback from a variety of perspectives.

“One of the big things is that if you think you know everything there is to know about writing, then it’s not for you. You do need to have an open mind. It’s been totally different for me – the before and after since I took the course.”

What are the three reasons why someone should attend a Technical Reporting Writing course?

  1. Provides a fundamental understanding of TRW structuring and layout which can be utilised for a variety of audiences.
  2. Helps to plan reports effectively and ensure maximum efficiency when writing technical reports.
  3. Analysing readability statistics and learning/adopting methods to improve these metrics.

What impact has the training had?

“I could get information down, but the structure was taking so much time and I needed to consider the objectives of the reader a lot more”

The change before and after has been significant. The main thing has been the role of planning. Something which Jacob describes himself as doing in bullet format beforehand, but now it’s the area he spends the most time on and this has improved his reports. “My writing is more concise and the whole process is much slicker than before”.

What’s next?

Jacob described the course as “a great day of learning for me” and applying this knowledge in reports at a higher level with a more varied readership is going to be a new challenge.

Jacob is also looking to continue to develop his competencies with the dual objective of achieving Cavendish’s own SQEP (Suitably Qualified and Experienced Personnel) standards but also to progress to Incorporated Engineer status with IMechE. He’s also going to look at the Technical Report Writing follow on course – “Presenting Technical Information” which is aimed at those presenting their reports to more varied audiences.

Technical Report Writing

  • Duration:
    1 day
  • Location:
    Coventry, Sheffield, London
  • CPD Hours:
  • UK-Spec: