A Project to Produce an Engineering Text for Publication: From Concept to Print

Type of Culminating Activity

Graduate Student Project

Graduation Date


Degree Title

Master of Arts in Technical Communication



Major Advisor

Mike Markel


This project to produce an engineering text for publication grew from two documents produced by Brent Keeth, a design engineer at Micron Technology, Inc. The first is a basic circuit design paper for a directed study course at the University of Idaho; the second, a thesis on a similar topic for a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Idaho. From these documents, Mr. Keeth and his advisor, R. Jacob Baker (who is now an electrical engineering professor at Boise State University), created a DRAM text for engineers at Micron entitled, DRAM Circuit Design: A Tutorial. Seeing its popularity on-site at Micron, Dr. Baker submitted a proposal to IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Inc.) to publish a book from this tutorial for circuit design academics and practitioners. My work on other projects for Mr. Keeth recommended me to the position of copy editor and illustrator of this text, which was published by IEEE Press in 2001.

High-speed design became key to circuit design in the early years of this century. To stay current, Dr. Baker and Mr. Keeth began work on a revision of the DRAM book. This time, two additional authors-Feng (Dan) Lin and Brian Johnson-were included, and eight additional chapters were written. My role remained the same, although now,

working with four authors--one of whom is not a native English speaker-I found it difficult to produce a coherent, cohesive volume.

I used JoAnn Hackos' publications-development life cycle [1] to develop a document production process for the text. The life cycle includes the following five phases:

  1. Information planning
  2. Content specification
  3. Implementation
  4. Production
  5. Evaluation

This paper presents the details of each phase in copyediting, illustrating, and formatting the revised text. The product of this process is a highly technical, camera-ready, 421-page book authored by four engineers over a span of seven years and including 272 hand- drawn figures. The book, DRAM Circuit Design: Fundamental and High-Speed Topics, was published by IEEE in 2008.

The paper concludes with a brief discussion of lessons learned from the project and an analysis of what went well and what could have been improved.