Writing materials

Technical writers need good writing skills and in-depth subject matter knowledge

Engineering versus science
I’m pursuing a master’s degree in physics. Can you help me choose between engineering research and scientific research as I am eligible to pursue PhD in both areas?
– Harpreet Khurana, Chandigarh

While a scientist asks “why” and proceeds to search for answers, an engineer explores “how” to solve a problem. In other words, scientists study phenomena, while engineers find solutions or improve existing solutions. However, there is often an overlap between science and engineering. Often, scientists put on an engineering hat to work on the practical application of their discoveries; conversely, while developing a technology, engineers may find themselves exploring new phenomena, thus assuming the role of a scientist.

Although engineering research may overlap with science, it is always pursued with one or more applications in mind. The Joint Entrance Screening Test (JEST) is conducted for admission into PhD programs in Physics, Theoretical Computer Science, Computational Biology and Neuroscience at leading research institutes in India such as TIFR, IISc, RRI, ARIES, NISER, IISER, PRL, among others.
Details: www.jest.org.in
For the integrated doctorate: Bachelor’s degree in physics/maths
For a regular doctorate: MSc in Physics/Applied Physics; BTech/BE/ME/MTech/4-year BS/MCA can also opt for integrated and regular doctoral programs in several institutes.

Innovative alternatives
Our son who is finishing class XII and says he would like to go for a simple BCom program and take online courses alongside it. We are worried. Is this a good decision?
-Neera Kaushal, Bangalore

The shift to online learning and shorter programs is a “Netflix moment” for higher education. Traditional college degrees still offer a valuable advantage, but several innovative and legitimate alternatives are emerging. The phrase is on everyone’s lips now, in addition to some related terms like remote learning, remote learning, and virtual learning. The variety of terminology reflects, in part, the many different approaches to teaching and learning online – and, more importantly, the range of student experiences that are now facilitated online.

We are now seeing new learner-centric collaborative models emerge, including virtual exchanges and distance internships, which are powerful ways to provide global experiences for all students despite physical travel limitations. Some of these courses, if chosen carefully, serve as micro-certificates. They help develop specialized skills that are relevant to today’s job market. And they are increasingly embraced by employers, educators and individuals.

Technical writing skills
I graduated in science. Although I find science interesting, I don’t think I’m cut out to pursue a master’s degree or similar academic qualification. Instead, I have good communication skills and love to write. Would technical writing be a good field?
-Deven Jaswal, Indore

Certainly. For the simple reason that almost every product or service we buy – be it hardware/software, cars, electronics, medicines, even apps, toys and games comes with ‘instructions. This can be in the form of a user manual, service manual, catalog or assembly instructions or general product information when shopping online. While this information makes it easy and safe for consumers to use and maintain products and services, it also protects manufacturers from lawsuits if it does not explain proper use.

It is the technical writer who organizes and presents this information in a simple, logical and user-friendly way that can be understood even by a layman. Essentially, this involves simplifying product information and breaking down complex procedures and unfamiliar technical jargon into sequential, easily understood steps – so that there are no communication gaps between those developing the product and those who use it.

Technical writers are now called technical communicators because the job involves much more than writing, i.e. creating electronic documents, layouts, diagrams, graphics, and designing web content. Two of the most essential requirements of a budding technical writer are excellent writing skills and a thorough knowledge of the product you are writing about. This makes this field possible even for people from non-technical backgrounds. About 5 to 10 years later, your career path could lead you into content strategy, content marketing, product management, and business analytics. You could lead a content management team in a variety of areas (business/technical writing, proposal writing, content marketing), or manage products in publishing or e-learning.

change of computer station
I work with in an IT company. Sometimes I end up working 12-14 hours for the same pay. As soon as we get used to a software tool, we are asked to learn a new one. What should I do? To go abroad? Switch to a non-technical field? Please advise.
-Anant Vasudevan, Hyderabad

First, find out if you are in burnout mode or want to quit your job. The grass invariably tends to look greener on the other side! If you’re really interested in coding, then learning new software tools is part of the game. If it’s about salary, try moving to another similar company that gives you a better deal. Or perhaps towards a quality analyst profile (after having mastered the relevant tools). Alternatively, you may consider moving to a product-based business where hours may be more healthy/fixed.

Also try to figure out why you have to stay such long hours in the office – is it the work culture or the endless customer demands? Or do you tend to be slower on task? When it comes to going abroad, decide if it’s for work or to further your education. Then do what is necessary. When it comes to non-tech careers, there are endless options including law, mass communication, digital marketing, fintech, design, tourism, management – ​​some of which may require further study and others, accessed through entrance exams such as those for banking. , government jobs, etc. I would strongly advise you to leverage your know-how to move into a related field – so you don’t have to start from scratch.