A software donation to the Technical Communication and Information Design (TCID) program is poised to open doors for students in the technical communications field, says Sean Williams, director and associate professor within the program.
Williams joined UCCS in August after nearly twenty years at Clemson University. In the months since then, he’s been working with the TCID faculty to convert the English department’s Professional and Technical Writing track into the new Technical Communication and Information Design degree program.
“Part of what I’m trying to do as I build this program is to increase relationships with corporations and organizations,” he said, “and our faculty are really good at that. I’m also trying to help build the connections that will help our students land internships and jobs post-graduation – ultimately to increase exposure to the program while helping students succeed.”
Soon after Williams started at UCCS, he discovered that faculty in the department had cultivated a relationship with MadCap Software, a computer software firm headquartered in San Diego, California that creates tools for technical writers.
Williams recognized an opportunity to rekindle the relationship, gain exposure for the new program and teach students in the degree program valuable professional skills that will help them become competitive candidates in the workplace – all at the same time.
“It’s a circle,” Williams said. “If we have great placement [post-graduation], it will make it easier for us to recruit students. Successful graduates attract more new students. So part of the future of the program includes having deep relationships with companies and organizations, and doing things in the curriculum that our partners recognize as valuable – things that the profession recognizes as required competencies.”
Professionals in the world of technical writing are often required to have skills in structured authoring and content management, two skills that Williams is planning to bring to the classroom.
“Content management and structured authoring are core skills in our universe,” he said. “The class that I’m teaching in the spring will teach those skills – but we don’t have the software to support them. Enter MadCap Software.”
Williams took the relationship faculty had established with MadCap Software to negotiate a software donation worth roughly $80,000 to TCID. Beginning in spring, the software company will provide licenses to three software programs to all students enrolled in Williams’ TCID 4080: Information Architecture and Content Management class.
MadCap Software will also train each student in the programs, providing them with core competencies to add to their resumes as they seek jobs and internships in the technical writing field.
“As industry-standard products, training in these programs will help our students work like real professionals,” Williams said. “Students who use these products will have a leg up in a competitive market, and they will practice some essential skills for authoring content.”
“It’s very valuable for our students,” he said. “It’s valuable for the university. And it’s good for the program, too.”
Students interested in the Technical Communication and Information Design program, or Williams’ spring semester class, can learn more on the program’s website.