History of Engineering

History of Engineering

History of Engineering Paper Assignment & Writing Tips

General Statement:

You will have to submit a 7-10 page research paper (that means 7-10 pages of text). The paper is a research paper on the history of a technology or specific aspect of engineering. You are able to pick your topic as outlined below. The paper is to be turned in no later than Thursday, Nov. 30. The SafeAssign link is in weekly folder for week 7. This is to be an original paper for this class – you cannot reuse another paper, nor even parts of another paper you’ve written.


Margins ought to be normal settings, fonts & point size that are standard (Times New Roman 12 point is a good one), and double-spaced. MLA, APA or Chicago are all citation styles I will accept. Number your pages (the cover page is not page 1). Include a cover page and a Works Cited or Bibliography page. You must use at least four sources beyond any class material you use.


  • You may pick any technology or aspect of engineering that your little heart desires and you do not need prior approval. I can give you some feedback if you want to email me what topic you’d like to research and how you might approach it (a thesis), but you do not have to. The DB steps ought to help you come up with ideas, so don’t fret.


  • Your paper ought to define the technology/engineering and also give its rich historical significance placing it into a broader context. To do this well you are required to consult no fewer than four sources outside the assigned class materials.


  • Write well. That which is written in haste is read without pleasure. I have provided some tips below that will help you. Assume, since I made the tips, that I will be annoyed if I read your paper and see contractions, first-person pronouns, etc. Remember too that the Writing Center is your friend. Use them. Each campus has one.

Late Papers:

If your paper assignment is late, I will reduce your grade by one third of a letter for each day that it is late.  For instance, if you earn a “B” on a paper that was due on Monday but you turn it in on Wednesday, I will record “C+” in the grade book. I CANNOT ACCEPT PAPERS AFTER October 7.

A word on plagiarism:

Plagiarism in papers is also intolerable and grounds for failure. I take this very seriously and I ask that you do as well. As explained in one writing manual:

Your research paper is a collaboration between you and your sources. To be fair and ethical, you must acknowledge your debt to the writers of these sources. If you don’t, you are guilty of plagiarism, a serious academic offense. Three different acts are considered plagiarism: (1) failing to cite quotations and borrowed ideas, (2) failing to enclose borrowed language in quotation marks, and (3) failing to put summaries and paraphrases in your own words.

Diana Hacker, A Pocket Style Manual, 3rd Edition, (Boston: Bedford/St. Martins Press, 2000), 171.

History of Engineering Grading Criteria for Paper:

A history paper is graded on historical content, but the final grade also reflects the quality of writing and organization of information and quality of evidence.

The paper will be graded by the same standards I set for all written work in all of my classes. (1) The quality of your research is critical. A paper using only Wikipedia and Encarta is not quality research; a paper using monographs and scholarly articles from university libraries is quality research. A paper using multiple sources from the same author is not quality; a paper using a variety of sources and scholars is quality. This research puts forth your argument, or historical content, which I view as a third of the paper’s whole. (2) Another standard is your organization.

A successful research paper will state a clear thesis statement upfront. The reader ought to know exactly what the paper is about, what the argument is, and what evidence will be used to support said argument. In addition, how your paper is organized lends to its overall persuasiveness. If the paper is not organized successfully the reader will be confused. An argument ought to build up in a logical, obvious fashion. (3) Finally, a poorly written paper obscures your argument and research. Typos, missed words, misspellings, missing or incorrect punctuation are all errors to be caught in drafts.

Writing first, second and even third drafts are critical in having a polished final draft to turn in for grading. Samuel Johnson once quipped that what is written without care is read without pleasure. Keep that in mind. Reading your work out loud is a helpful way to improve your writing. However, poor writing goes beyond typos. Poor writing includes paragraphs that fail to follow the topic sentence, run on paragraphs, passive voice, verb agreement, and obtuse or profuse language. Clean, clear and concise – that is the mantra to learn. One English professor said he asked his students to learn “precision in vocabulary and economy of language.”


An A will be given to any paper that is excellent in argument, organization, and style.

An A paper is strong enough that the entire class could benefit from reading it. To earn an A you must make an interesting, believable argument that adds significantly to – or goes beyond – what you have read in class. A-quality work must also follow a logical structure, with unified paragraphs and transitions that clearly signal how each section relates to the central argument. In addition, A papers have to be well-written, using lively prose that is free of spelling, grammatical, and idiomatic mistakes.


A B paper is one that is deficient in argument, organization or style, or shows minor problems

in two or three of them. A B grade is also one to be proud of. It recognizes excellent work that demonstrates a sound grasp of the major themes and events covered in the readings and lectures. Without necessarily achieving the originality of A-quality work, B papers are also organized around a coherent argument, with a structure based on unified paragraphs and clearly delineated sections with clear, clean writing.


A C paper is one that is weak in two areas (argument, organization, style) or seriously flawed

in one, usually style or argument. A C grade shows that you understand the main issues and facts and that you have achieved some success in using these to demonstrate the validity of a central argument. However, receiving a C may signal a need to write with greater precision, to develop ideas more fully, to utilize stronger evidence, and to work on grammar and spelling.


A D paper has multiple problems across the board but displays some germ of skill. Overall it

is unsatisfactory and requires serious attention on the student’s part. The problem may be excessive grammatical and spelling errors, failure to grasp basic themes and facts, or simple carelessness borne of insufficient time to complete the assignment.


An F will be awarded to any paper that is simply below college-level work or

is plagiarized.


History of Engineering Writing GUIDE

Below are guidelines to help you improve your history essay writing skills without having to relearn an English writing manual. Read these guidelines thoroughly before writing your paper.

The Little Things That Add Up to Clear, Concise, Professional Writing:

1) Do not use the first person pronouns- we, I, us. Avoid things like, “I will show that…” or “We can see…” Similarly, avoid using “you.” The author cannot assume anything about the reader that would warrant the use of that pronoun. Remember too that “we” does not equal “Americans.”

2) Avoid contractions at all times. You may say “don’t” and “can’t” in conversation, but ALWAYS spell it out when writing.
3) Write about past events in the past tense, not the present.

4) Provide citations every time you use information or ideas from another author. If you do not, it is called plagiarism. Although historians use the Chicago Manual of Style, I will accept APA or MLA, so long as you are consistent.

5) Avoid using absolutes. Words such as “always” and “never” are sweeping generalizations and there is a good chance that there is an exception to your rule. Also, avoid “obvious” and its derivatives. If something is obvious, then you have no need to state it.

6) Do not use questions in a paper. You are writing to inform your reader, not to ask the reader questions- even rhetorical questions.
7) I would prefer that you not use “tech report writing” format. Your paragraphs should be indented and there is to be no extra spaces between paragraphs – just like your books looks.

8) Avoid colloquial language, clichés, and slang terms. You are writing a paper, not graffiti.

9) Learn punctuation, especially the use of commas and semicolons. They are not arbitrary marks to be used at whim.

10) Learn the difference between “there” and “their.” They are not interchangeable. Same goes for “lead” verses “led.”

11) Learn the correct use of apostrophes, especially the difference between “its” and “it’s.” The second is a contraction of “it is,” while the first is the possessive of “it.” In other words, the following is correct: “The United States Navy used its trained crabs to win the war, and it’s a good thing.” Of course, as per rule # 2, you would not use “it’s” in a paper because it is a contraction.

12) Avoid the passive voice. If you are writing, “would” or “could” you are most likely writing in the passive voice. The active voice makes for a more assertive paper. (See The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. for an excellent explanation of passive and active voice- you can find it on-line if you do not own a copy at:

13) Quotations should be used as evidence to reinforce your points. You should give both a voice to the quote (As the historian Roger Bilstein explained, “….”) and explain in your words the importance of that quote to your reader. Also, end a paragraph in your own words, not someone else’s.

14) Book titles are in italics or underlined. Articles are in “quotation marks.”

15) Think about AUDIENCE. You are not writing directly to me. Your roommate, your spouse, or another college student should understand your paper. Therefore explain, prove and analyze. Saying things such as, “in the textbook…” or “as we learned on the discussion board…” or “as it was said in the Study Guide…” will leave the general reader confused.

16) Above all else, organize beforehand and PROOFREAD afterwards. Silly mistakes easily corrected if proofread greatly take away from a well-argued paper and will lower your grade. So never hand in a first draft.


How to Make Each Part of the Essay Excellent:

A. Introduction.

An introduction must give a broad statement that tells the reader the subject of the essay. In addition, a specific thesis must be stated in the introduction telling the reader exactly what the argument is and what evidence will be used. Generalities will not suffice. Be specific and have a point. A good introduction will serve as the outline for your paper. The most common mistakes are to make too general a statement that a five paragraph essay could not possibly do justice, make too long a list of things that are never covered in the body of the paper, or make an emotional statement but fail to tell the reader on what points you will be relying to convince her of the wisdom of your argument.

B. Body of Paper.

The body of the essay should have a separate paragraph that discusses and provides the evidence for each of your examples—one at a time. If the arguments are mixed up the reader will not find your argument compelling. Dedicate one paragraph to each of your examples. Make sure that the body of your essay proves your thesis—that each example is clearly linked to your thesis and that the entire thesis described in your introduction is covered fully in the body of the paper. The body of the essay also needs to be organized. That is each paragraph should follow a logical pattern developing your thesis and the information within the paragraphs needs to follow a logical order.

C. Paragraph Length.

Be wary of very short (two sentences) or very long (half page or more) paragraphs. It is important that each new idea has its own paragraph with a topic sentence, one or two sentences of argument with a quote from a source as evidence, and a transition sentence to the next paragraph.

D. Transition Sentences.

A good transition will guide your reader out of one paragraph and into the next by signaling the next argument you will discuss in detail in the next paragraph. Transition sentences are the glue that holds the reader’s attention as you develop your thesis. Without good transitions your style, and ultimately your argument, will appear choppy and confused.

E. Evidence.

Provide quoted evidence from the assigned sources to convince the reader with the authority of participants in the events or experts on the subject. An argument without evidence is opinion—interesting, but not convincing. Be sure to avoid plagiarism. Plagiarism in papers is also intolerable and grounds for failure and even expulsion as per University policy.

As explained in one writing manual:

Your research paper is collaboration between you and your sources. To be fair and ethical, you must acknowledge your debt to the writers of these sources. If you don’t, you are guilty of plagiarism, a serious academic offense. Three different acts are considered plagiarism: (1) failing to cite quotations and borrowed ideas, (2) failing to enclose borrowed language in quotation marks, and (3) failing to put summaries and paraphrases in your own words.
Diana Hacker, A Pocket Style Manual, 3rd Edition, (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’ Press, 2000), 171.

If you are unsure what plagiarism is or how to avoid it, see me before you turn in a paper.

F. Conclusion.

The conclusion of an essay should sum up your main points and convince the reader that any reasonable person would be persuaded by your logic and evidence. It should not be a sentence or two that says that you are done, nor should it introduce any new ideas. It should remind the reader of your position on the question, sum up your main points and finish with an appeal to the reader’s logic.

History of Engineering

Last Updated on February 11, 2019 by EssayPro