104 Tompkins
Department of English
NC State
Raleigh, NC 27695-8105
(919) 513-7354

I am an associate professor at NC State, where I teach undergraduate and graduate courses in technical communication. I have been at State for 15 years, after having spent 16 years in industry as a technical communicator and manager.

My research and publishing reflect the duality of my career, with equal time spent in the academy and in industry. I am interested in the complex relationship in technical communication between the business practice of designing, developing, and delivering technical communication artifacts (whether paper-based or digital) and the academic discipline for teaching and researching how such artifacts work. That attention to the interconnections of the academy and industry was reflected in my book on communication management and in my book chapter on cultural differences between academia and industry. Other related work includes an article on text and graphics, a book chapter on usability testing, and a presentation on misuses of usability methods. Ongoing research will continue to address issues of concern to both audiences and to look for ways to inform both about how changes in technology affect them.

My book, Management Principles and Practices for Technical Communication, was published by the Allyn & Bacon Series in Technical Communication in 2004. It reflects the dual academic and industry influences representative of the field and profession of technical communication, as it is based both on a thorough study of the academic research literature of technical communication management and on 15 years of first-hand experience managing technical communication groups in industry. The book is meant to be valuable to practitioners in industry but also to work as a text suitable for preparing advanced technical communication students to understand and to carry out the management activities they will encounter on the job.

Other publications include the lead chapter in Mirel and Spilka's Reshaping Technical Communication (Erlbaum, 2002) and a chapter, co-authored with Brad Mehlenbacher, on innovative pedagogical methods using usability testing in Innovative Approaches to Teaching Technical Communication, edited by Bridgeford, Kitalong, and Selfe (Utah State University Press, 2004). Another chapter, "The Nature of Technical Communication Work," appeared in Spilka's Digital Literacy for Technical Communication:  21st Century Theory and Practice (Erlbaum Press, 2010). A fourth chapter, "Designing Usable and Useful Solutions for Complex Systems", is included in Alber and Still's Usability of Complex Information Systems: Evaluation of User Interaction(Taylor & Francis, 2011). Another chapter, "How Do Technical Communicators Manage Projects?" will soon appear in Johnson-Eilola and Selber's Solving Problems in Technical Communication (University of Chicago Press, 2012).