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Julie Sharp

Professor of the Practice of Technical Communications, Retired

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering


My research interests are in the areas of written and oral technical communication, business communication, teaching strategies, learning style theory, and integrating communication in engineering courses. A major goal of my courses has been to prepare prospective engineers for future writing and presentation tasks both in the job search and at work.

I developed and have instructed the technical communication portions of two combined chemical engineering laboratory/technical communication courses, among the first such integrated courses offered in the U.S. In addition, for many years I have taught a technical communication course for all engineering majors, serving as course coordinator. In all, I have taught or co-taught fourteen courses in the School of Engineering.

Some of my courses have been new ones I created. For example, I created and taught the School of Engineering’s first engineering professional development course to help students hone communication skills and strategies for the job search. Additionally, I taught the first stand-alone technical communication course for chemical engineers.  I instructed the technical communication portion of two biomedical laboratory courses. I also created courses in three summer programs: a word processing course for minority pre-college teachers; a combined technical communication and word processing course with my self-paced training manual for pre-college students (Preparatory Academics for Vanderbilt Engineers); and an online written and oral communication summer course for a student research experience in a consortium of four universities (Vanderbilt, Northwestern University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Harvard/MIT).

Selected examples of recognition for my contributions to engineering education include the following:

  • APEX 2015 Award for Excellence in the category of Electronic Media - Webinars and Slide Shows for a senior design voice-narrated PowerPoint tutorial “Guidelines for Writing a Design Project Description”
  • APEX 2013 Award for Publication Excellence in the category of Education Training Writing for an article about implementing the engineering career development course
  • APEX 2012 Award for Excellence in the category of Education and Training Writing for an article about interview training for engineers
  • American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Southeastern Section’s 2004 Thomas C. Evans Award for “The Most Outstanding Paper Pertaining to Engineering Education” for a paper describing strategies for teaching communication in the chemical engineering senior laboratory

In addition, ASEE’s national magazine, PRISM, has published several articles mentioning my teaching methods, such as innovative methods for teaching oral presentations to engineers, using e-mail as a teaching tool, conducting mock telephone interviews with alumni employers, and using learning style theory to promote targeting the audience and enhancing teamwork skills.

Active in several professional organizations, I have published numerous conference papers, journal articles, and an invited book chapter and served as president of the Middle Tennessee chapter of the Society for Technical Communication. Additionally, I have given many presentations and workshops on communication and learning style theory. As a communication consultant, I have presented training workshops for industry, educators, and professional organizations as well as written and edited award-winning documents for clients.

Selected Publications:

Dyrud, M., and J.E. Sharp. “Ethics for Beginners.” Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education 2015 Annual Conference, June 14-17, 2015, Seattle WA, Paper 11190.

Sharp, J.E., and C.J. Rowe.  “Implementing a Student-Suggested Course in Engineering Career Development.”  Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education 2013 Annual Conference, June 23-26, 2013, Atlanta GA, Paper 6832.  Awarded 2013 Apex Award for Excellence in the Category of Education and Training Writing.

Sharp, J.E. “Behavioral Interview Training in Engineering Classes, “American Society for Engineering Education 2012 Conference Proceedings, June 10-13, 2012, San Antonio TX, Paper AC 2012-4199.  Awarded 2012 Apex Award for Excellence in the Category of Education and Training Writing.

Dyrud, M.A., and J. E. Sharp, “Workshop - Putting More Punch in PowerPoint,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education 2009 39th Annual Conference, October 18-21, 2009, San Antonio TX.

Sharp, J.E., and M.A. Dyrud, “Two Perspectives on Peer Review,” American Society for Engineering Education 2009 Conference Proceedings, June 14-17, 2009, Paper 2009-420, Austin TX.

Anderson-Rowland, M.R., and J.E. Sharp, “Helping Students (and Ultimately Faculty) Write an Effective Recommendation Letter,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education 2008 38th Annual Conference, October 22-25, 2008, Saratoga NY.

Sharp, J.E., “Interview Skills Training in the Chemical Engineering Laboratory: Transporting a Pilot Project,” American Society for Engineering Education 2008 Conference Proceedings, June 22-25, 2008, Paper 2008-567, Pittsburgh PA.

Sharp, J.E., “Rationale and Strategies for Using Kolb Learning Style Theory in the Classroom,” in Learning Styles and Learning: A Key to Meeting the Accountability Demands in Education.  R.R. Sims and S.J. Sims, eds. Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers, Inc., 2006, pp. 93-113. Invited book chapter.

Sharp, J.E., “Work in Progress: Using Mock Telephone Interviews with Alumni to Teach Job Search Communication,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education 2006 36th Annual Conference, October 29-31, 2006, San Diego, CA.

Sharp, J.E., "Work in Progress: Alumni Mentoring of Engineers in a Technical Communication Course," Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education 2004 34th Annual Conference, October 20-23, 2004, Savannah, GA.

Sharp, J.E., “Using Alumni Networking to Teach Technical Communication,” American Society for Engineering Education 2004 Conference Proceedings, June 20-23, 2004, Paper 2004-1005, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Sharp, J.E., "A Resource for Teaching a Learning Styles/Teamwork Module with the Soloman-Felder Index of Learning Styles," Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education 2003 33rd Annual Conference, November 5-8, 2003, Boulder, CO.  Invited reprint in "Pace Report" column, ed. Michael J. Johnson, IEEE Antennas and Propagation Magazine, Dec. 2004.

Sharp, J.E., "Teaching Strategies for Integrating Communication in the Chemical Engineering Lab," American Society for Engineering Education 2003 Conference Proceedings, June 22-25, 2003, Paper 2003-859, Nashville, TN.  Awarded ASEE Southeastern Section's 2004 Thomas C. Evans Award for the Most Outstanding Instructional Paper Pertaining to Engineering Education.

Sharp, J.E., B.M. Olds, R.L. Miller, and M.A. Dyrud, "Four Effective Writing Strategies for Engineering Classes," Journal of Engineering Education, Vol. 88, No. 1, (January 1999), pp. 53-57.

Hunkeler, D., and J.E. Sharp, "Assigning Functional Groups: The Influence of Group Size, Academic Record, Practical Experience, and Learning Style," Journal of Engineering Education, Vol. 86, No. 4 (October 1997), pp. 321-332.

Sharp, J.E., "Applying Kolb Learning Style Theory in the Communication Classroom," Business Communication Quarterly, Vol. 60, No. 2 (June 1997), pp. 129-134. Invited article.