Constructing tomorrow’s world in phrases


On the floor, writing and engineering don’t appear to have a lot in widespread. However the hyperlink between the 2 is greater than obvious to Suzanne Lane ’85, who’s been director of MIT’s Writing, Rhetoric, and Skilled Communication (WRAP) program since 2013. 

“I made our program’s motto ‘Constructing tomorrow’s world in phrases,’” she says. “Writing and speaking is invention, and it shapes {our relationships}. It shapes our materials world. Nearly every little thing that occurs on the earth is first a plan that then has to get articulated.”

WRAP, a part of Comparative Media Research/Writing (CMS/W), improves college students’ communication abilities by 4 communications-intensive undergraduate necessities. “We assist college students perceive the central genres of their self-discipline,” she says. “How do you make these genres—say, a white paper or a presentation—work successfully? How do you design your writing to your viewers?”

Educated each as an engineer and a author, Lane has lengthy liked each pursuits. “I heard lots as a child that I needs to be an engineer, as a result of I used to be excellent at math and I used to be typically modeling and inventing issues,” she says. “And I at all times liked to learn. Summer time, everyone else can be exterior. I might be like, ‘Nice. I can simply sit inside and browse all day.’”

At MIT, the place she majored in chemical engineering with a focus in literature, she discovered an brisk group of like-minded folks. “It was inventive and thrilling and extremely social, and simply loads of enjoyable,” says Lane. “I had probably the most great teacher [for expository writing], Kate Burnett … it was an excellent pleasure to me that after I got here again years later, I obtained to show that very same class.”

Lane labored in engineering for a number of years, then obtained an MFA in inventive writing from the College of Colorado, Boulder, and a PhD in English with a give attention to rhetoric from UMass Amherst. Rhetoric, or understanding how writing and narrative may be made to work higher, is “a really engineering query however utilized to communication,” she says.

After educating in Harvard’s expository writing program, she returned to MIT in 2008 to hitch WRAP. When not educating, she research the right way to enhance communication training by Archimedia, WRAP’s analysis arm. WRAP’s total efforts not too long ago earned a certificates of excellence from the Convention on School Composition and Communication.

“To ensure that folks to work collectively, they’ve to have the ability to talk,” she says. “They need to actually be on the identical web page.” 


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