In 1984, Senior Professor Sandi Harner proposed that the Department of Language and Literature offer a technical writing program. One year later, Cedarville College offered the minor in Professional Writing, which consisted of five classes totaling 19 credit hours. The Professional Writing minor became a major in 1992, which Professor Harner renamed as the Technical and Professional Communication major in 1999. Professor Harner developed new courses for the major and also included an internship requirement. In 2011, the Professional Writing and Information Design major moved to the Department of Media and Applied Communications. Cedarville hired Nicholas Carrington as a new professor in the major, and he began his work as an Instructor in the fall of 2012.

Students take a variety of courses, such as Technical Editing, Visual Rhetoric, Corporate Culture, Design of Online Information I & II, and Documentation Design. These courses fall under broad categories, such as writing, visual design, or theory that exemplify the wide range of skills and jobs encompassed in the field. Each of these classes prepares students with the understanding, theories, and skills that they need to excel as a technical communicator.

For more information about the specific courses, please see the Academics page of our student website.

While other universities offer programs in technical communication, most of these schools do not offer the same wide range of courses that Cedarville’s PWID program does. For example, other programs may cover web design, marketing, and instructional design, but these specific fields are presented in few weeks as units within the context of general courses. Cedarville’s PWID program has a broad base, but it offers very specific courses that devote attention to these diverse career fields.

Cedarville’s technical communication program also differs from other major schools in that the PWID program integrates Christ-centered values into the classes. Courses such as Corporate Culture provide students with an opportunity to evaluate their careers and their work as areas in which they can serve and glorify God. Students learn to develop a “theology of work” that seeks to keep God at the center of their technical communication activities.

The PWID program teaches Christ-centered principles and values along with professional skills, particularly in the Corporate Culture class. In this class, students discuss a theology of work, and they consider how they should live and work as Christians in a professional environment. All the courses emphasize integrity and a positive work ethic, and classes often discuss the ethical implications of the decisions they make with regard to their writing and design.

In addition, classes always begin with prayer, and sometimes the professors will read a devotional or Scripture to the class and have students journal about that Scripture passage. The PWID program emphasizes Christ and teaches Christian values in all areas.

Graduates from the PWID program work in a variety of environments and positions. For example, a 1996 graduate, Scott Bennett, serves at Procter & Gamble as a Specialist Manager of Corporate Communications, and Jennifer Himes, a 2004 graduate, works as a senior instructional designer at Nationwide Insurance. Graduates also work internationally, such as Jody Pait, a 1996 graduate, who works in Saudi Arabia as a leader in digital marketing for IBM, specifically focused on the Middle East and Africa regions. Graduates have also worked for the Department of Defense, JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft, and other companies.

To read stories of other graduates, visit the Graduate Stories page of our student website.

The PWID program provides several means for students to network with professionals in the field. Each year, the PWID program holds a grad panel where they invite graduates of the program to come speak to students about their experiences in the field. Students can ask these professionals questions about their experiences, and they can even contact them for further information about possible career opportunities.

The PWID major also has a PWID Board, and the board members help students to develop professionally in several ways. The board members call students in the Professional Portfolio Development I & II classes for mock phone interviews, conduct mock face-to-face interviews with the same students, and come in the spring of each year for a portfolio review session, where they evaluate and give feedback to students on their portfolios and résumés.

Cedarville University also holds career fairs for students, including a career fair specifically for the Department of Media and Applied Communications. At the career fairs, students have the opportunity to meet with representatives of companies and to learn about possible job opportunities.

Community is an important aspect of the PWID program, and students have many opportunities to be involved in the community of the PWID major. Students in the PWID major are automatically members of the TPCu organization, and by attending the monthly meetings, students can connect with other students in the major. For example, Professor Harner will host students at her house for TPCu meetings and other game nights, including a Halloween Party and the famous Christmas Brunch where she serves her legendary Blueberry Caramel Pecan French Toast.

Every spring, students in the major take a weekend educational trip to meet with professionals and learn more about their field. Students have traveled to cities such as Chicago, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, and Nashville. These trips not only allows students to learn more about their field, but it also provides an excellent opportunity to foster community within the major.

Students themselves often initiate events, such as game nights and weekly dinners in the cafeteria. Students even decided to enter a canoe in the Cardboard Canoe Race in the fall of 2012, and they won the demolition derby as well as the distinguished title of Best Non-Engineering Canoe.

While taking so many courses and working in many group projects together, students quickly form friendships within the major, and they continue these friendships outside of the classroom. Students themselves often cite the community as a key component of the Professional Writing and Information Design major.