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Are you up to the tech writing challenge?

Science and engineering students, or anyone interested in cutting-edge scientific research should take note of this year’s tech writing challenge hosted by the Briefing.

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By Ashley Mussbacher (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: October 30, 2013

The contest spans both sides of the equation: interpreting research, and explaining it to others.

Science and engineering students, or anyone interested in cutting-edge scientific research should take note of this year’s tech writing challenge hosted by the Briefing.

The Briefing is a science and technology website featuring articles on topics like engineering, programming, chemistry, biology, and earth sciences.

On June 17, the Briefing called for submissions from people who, according to their website, “can explain what’s happening in science, technology, and engineering.” The trick of the challenge is that writers must not only be able to understand the scientific topic they are writing about, but be able to write about it in a way that is comprehensive, even to a non-scientific audience.

“Anyone from any background can enter, as long as they meet the age requirements. But it’s really important that the way the science or engineering is represented is done accurately, so people from non-technical backgrounds should make sure to get their facts checked very carefully,” says the Briefing’s editorial director, Dr. Sunny Bains.

The topic chosen must also be one that has not been widely covered by media or not covered at all.

[pullquote]“I think that every employer these days is looking for people who can both analyze and communicate”[/pullquote]

Submissions will be read and critiqued by several judges from all over North America, Europe, and Asia with extensive backgrounds in engineering, computing, and science. Articles chosen will be published and featured on the Briefing, and the writer will win a prize of $500.

Bains explains how this challenge will benefit students in the long run.

“We’re publishing all entries that have merit, whether they make it to the final cut or not: anyone who does a good job will ‘win’ by being able to show off their article to future employers,” she says in a press release.

According to the National Post, the unemployment rate among post-secondary graduates was 7.6 per cent this April. Few jobs means higher competition, and anything a student can do to gain an edge could make them more desirable to a potential employer. the Briefing’s challenge is one of those opportunities.

“I think that every employer these days is looking for people who can both analyze and communicate: with this assignment you can demonstrate your ability to do both,” Bains says.

The challenge is scheduled to close on November 4 at 5 p.m. It is open to contestants from all over the world and it is free to submit. Even though it’s a writing challenge, the Briefing states it is more interested in the content and general development of ideas through writing than the structure and technical perfections of the writing itself.

“There is something about explaining things to other people that helps us understand it better ourselves … and conversely, we know if we can’t explain a subject well then we’ve not yet got a grip on it. Writing is about communication, but—for this reason—it’s also about learning,” Bains says.

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