Perspectives on Technical Reports
Dave Alciatore, Mechanical Engineering
Writing Technical Design Reports as a Group
"Often, technical design reports require that multiple experts help write them. This is called "concurrent engineering." This way, everyone involved with a project contributes. More ground gets covered this way. The report is also a good way to document a design. Then, if problems arise later, everyone can refer to the document. This helps determine where changes were made, etc."
"Every company has different means of documentation. Typically, in industry, you won't have to provide as much history in a technical report. This is because in academia, we want you to document your thought processes and project evolution. In industry, you will concentrate more on the initial problem, requirements, and solutions. "
Neil Grigg, Civil Engineering
Multiple Reports for a Project
"Suppose your engineering task is to build a retaining wall. As the main engineer, you've got to consider many aspects: the load, the height, the structural design. You'll write a report where you state the goals and how they will be accomplished. This includes input parameters, the conditions in which you have to work, alternatives, recommendations. Next, soil engineers may actually test the soils at the location. They would then produce a report about what they found. Every project generates multiple reports. "
"Many designs begin with identifying the problem, determining the goals, and creating a list of alternatives. The next part is the evaluation. This includes the technical, legal, economic, financial, environmental, and social evaluations. Then you make recommendations based on these evaluations. Most reports, especially design reports include this information. "
Tom Siller, Civil Engineering
An Example Technical Report
"I once helped produce a report about rock fracturing for a whip site. In that report, we stated the situation, how we would analyze the situation, (because we wanted to be hired as the engineers for the project), the analytical tools we would develop, and our results based on those analytical tools. We did not present a shaft design. Overall, the report presented our way of understanding the issues that would help design a shaft."
Your Report's Purpose
"If your report's purpose is to create an artifact, then you have to present all the technical aspects of the design. This way, someone can read the report and build your artifact. You have to be aware of very fine details whenever you write a report. For instance, will your designs receive public approval? Are you in compliance with regulatory agencies? And so why you are writing the report helps you determine what details to include and exclude."