STC New England chapter is now accepting entries…

The STC New England chapter is now accepting entries for their 2014 technical communication competition! Anyone is welcome to submit an entry; STC membership is not a requirement.

The deadline for entries is October 3rd.

For more information, visit the STC New England chapter’s website. Feel free to contact Emily Alfson with any questions at or contact the competition committee directly at

Submissions for Ignite UX are open; deadline is 9/25

Ignite UX Michigan is looking for talks on user experience-related topics in the Ignite format — short, tightly focused talks with 20 slides that advance automatically every 15 seconds, for a total of 5 minutes.

This event happened for the first time last fall, and the organizers are doing it again.

If you participated last year, you know. If you did not, we encourage you to consider.

Click here for details and contacts.

Click for more information on Ignite UX Michigan and on Ignite UX sponsors.

Some presidential reflections

Written by Tom Glennan

Tom Glennan

The STC-SM member showcase and volunteer appreciation dinner meeting held on June 25 at Little Daddy’s in Livonia was a great opportunity to recognize and reflect on the contributions of our members both in the workplace and in our chapter. And it also gave me the opportunity to reflect on the past program year as my year of serving as your chapter president draws to a close. In reflecting, we can both celebrate what we have achieved and think about where we want to go as a chapter. Continue reading “Some presidential reflections”

Congratulations, Maryann Bowen!

Written by Tom Glennan

President Glennan presents dedicated volunteer Maryann Bowen with DCSACongratulations to Maryann Bowen, who was approved by the STC Board of Directors to receive the Distinguished Chapter Service Award (DCSA) for 2014! Maryann was recognized as a DCSA recipient at the recent STC Summit in Phoenix as well as in the online STC Notebook and in the May 2014 issue of Intercom.

The DCSA is bestowed in recognition of the recipient’s exemplary effort, energy and dedication to his or her community and its activities. Maryann was nominated for her commitment and service to the technical communication profession, and to STC-SM in particular. Whether it’s her service to the chapter by serving in a variety of elected and volunteer positions, her dedication to providing value for our chapter members or her tireless efforts to develop and present meaningful program events and speakers, Maryann has served as an inspiration and model we would all do well to emulate.

In recognition of her significant professional and personal accomplishments, Maryann was presented with her DCSA certificate at the STC-SM volunteer recognition dinner meeting held on June 25. Please make a point of congratulating and thanking Maryann when you see her at an upcoming STC-SM event.


Rounding Out the Networking Year in Troy

Written by Tom Glennan
On Tuesday, April 29, three of us met at Champps Americana Restaurant and Grill in Troy for the final planned STC/SM networking event of the 2013-2014 program year. Feeling very thirsty and looking forward to a chance to unwind after another day of technical communication challenges and (we hoped) successes, this happy-hour get-together proved to be another excellent opportunity to get to know one another better and exchange ideas and observations about the profession of technical communication and our chapter. The topics included our personal experiences living in foreign countries while completing assignments; the subtle distinctions between translation and localization of technical content; the joys and challenges of grant application writing for non-profits; a brief discussion of ethical issues faced by technical communicators when completing assignments and projects; and even a little introductory discussion of our next program meeting topic, working as a freelance writer. Pretty heavy stuff for an after-work celebration, but it was all very enjoyable. Continue reading “Rounding Out the Networking Year in Troy”

April 29 After-Work Networking Opportunity

One of the most important benefits we derive from our local chapter membership is the opportunity to network with fellow technical communicators in our area. To help provide these opportunities, the STC/SM leadership team has promoted a program of local networking lunches, breakfasts, and after-work happy hours in various locations throughout southeast Michigan since last autumn. The reaction from the membership has been very positive, and I’m happy to announce that another such event is now planned for late April in one of the northern Detroit suburbs.

On Tuesday, April 29, I will be hosting a casual after-work/happy hour STC/SM networking event at Champps America Restaurant and Bar, 301 W. Big Beaver Road (also known as Quarton Road, 16 Mile, or Metro Parkway in these parts), Troy, 48084 (248-526-0333). I plan to arrive a little before 5:00 PM, and we have a table reserved until 6:30 PM under my name and “STC.” I’ll also have a small sign with our STC/SM logo on the table to help you find me. If you can join us for any part of that time, we’d love to have you.

We’ll use the time to get to know one another, talk about our role as technical communicators, and discuss STC-SM membership and ideas for increasing its value to technical communicators. Each attendee is responsible for purchasing his/her lunch or beverages, but the conversation is FREE!

This will be a “casual” networking event, so any and all STC/SM members, not-yet-STC/SM members, attendees at past STC/SM events and their colleagues are all welcome. However, I’d appreciate you letting me know if you think you can make it so I can be sure to have enough seating.

Looking forward to seeing you!

Tom Glennan, SCT/SM President
Cell phone: (248) 515-2318

Member Spotlight: Susan Fisher

What is your educational background? Why did you decide to pursue technical communication as a career?
I earned Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts degrees from the University of Michigan School of Art & Design in the 1970s. Soon afterward, however, when the “school of reality” hit home, I took a job as a documentation specialist with a computer services company. I found I was good at researching technical topics and explaining them to others. When the company’s documentation group added a training function, I jumped into that. I’ve been an instructional designer ever since — although I still consider myself a technical communicator above all. In fact, last year I earned the Certified Professional Technical Communicator (CPTC) designation from STC.

How long have you been a member of  STC? In what STC positions have you served?
I’ve been a member of STC and the Southeastern Michigan chapter since 1982. Having gotten into the tech comm field more or less by accident, I had little idea of its professional development opportunities — until a co-worker told me about STC. I joined and discovered a whole new world of concepts, information, and people doing exciting thinking and work in the field. For most of the past 30 years I’ve been only a consumer of STC services. I was finally persuaded to give something back in 2012, when I agreed to be nominated as secretary of STC-SM. I’m currently serving my second term.

Where are you currently employed? What are your job activities? What do you find most interesting or satisfying about your job?
I’m employed at Innovative Learning Group in Royal Oak. Continue reading “Member Spotlight: Susan Fisher”

Beating the Winter Blahs – and Other Insights from the January 9th Networking Lunch

Written by Tom Glennan

The weather and driving conditions were far from ideal for the January 9th networking lunch at Panera Bread in Rochester Hills, but the hearty souls who braved the elements to share in a light lunch and good conversation found plenty to talk about between mouthfuls of hot soup and cookies.

At these networking events, besides the opportunity for networking and sharing war stories from the front lines of the technical communication battle, I look forward to hearing from our STC/SM members (and not-yet members) about their views of the chapter, particularly the value of chapter membership and the benefits that it can provide. So one of the things that I sought feedback about last Thursday was the program topics and speakers we’ve had in the recent past and that we’re planning for in the 2013-2014 program year. Many of the topics that members have asked for are related directly to day-to-day needs, such as information about tools like FrameMaker® and RoboHelp® by Adobe®, MadCap FlareTM, and XML, and strategies such as Agile and content management systems. But I was also reminded that there are other topics that members are totally unfamiliar with but would like to learn more about. Continue reading “Beating the Winter Blahs – and Other Insights from the January 9th Networking Lunch”

Thinking about the December 10 Holiday Mixer – and Beyond

Written by Tom Glennan

There’s a classic winter song that begins, “Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful.” Well, the weather for the December 10 holiday mixer, co-sponsored by STC/SM, Michigan CHI and UxPA, was definitely frightful, with very low temperatures, blowing winds and snow flurries. And while there was no fire inside Conor O’Neill’s Irish Pub in Ann Arbor, the food, conversation and presentation were definitely delightful, as was the opportunity to meet and speak with people from our partnering organizations. Chris Farnum, a member of the user experience (Ux) team at ProQuest, gave a very informative and engaging presentation on wireframes and some tips on how to make good wireframes with techniques that transcend the tools. He also took a stab at answering the oft-asked question, “Are wireframes dead?” All in all, for someone like me who initially thought wireframes were a particular style of eyewear, the presentation Chris gave was both enjoyable and enlightening. Continue reading “Thinking about the December 10 Holiday Mixer – and Beyond”

Ann Arbor Networking Breakfast – Recap

Written by Maryann Bowen

Seven people set their alarms to gather for breakfast at 7 a.m. on Friday, November 22, at Nick’s Original House of Pancakes in Ann Arbor.

We started with the usual introductions of attendees, including professional background, current jobs and involvement with STC. Of this group, three are self-employed, one is an employee of another company, two are corporate employees who also do some freelancing and one is currently seeking employment. (Other attendees immediately shared some leads, including two jobs recently posted to the STC-SM listserv.) Continue reading “Ann Arbor Networking Breakfast – Recap”