More valuable… than almost any other experience I’ve had at MIT.

My time in the Communication Lab has been more valuable to me, as a scientist, than almost any other experience I’ve had at MIT. Our work never exists in isolation, and working with the Communication Lab has made me more adept at showcasing my work to technical and non-technical audiences alike. – Cody Dennett (Russell L. Heath Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow at Idaho National Laboratory, NSE Communication Fellow 2015-2019)

Each year, 1-3 NSE graduate students become Communication Fellows and grow their communication skills through:

Hands-on training on technical communication

All new Fellows across the MIT School of Engineering (SoE) and the Broad Institute are trained together in technical communication and coaching. Each Fellow logs 16 hours of hands-on training in their first year, with the curriculum set by the SoE Comm Lab and revised yearly.

Throughout their training, Fellows engage with field-specific examples and activities, allowing new Fellows to learn the practices of NSE and the industry.  NSE Fellows are also able to share best practices across disciplines with Fellows from BE, EECS, MechE, ChemE, and the Broad Institute.

The Fellow training curriculum spans visual, written, and oral communication for research and career needs:

Mentorship and coaching experience

Fellows gain invaluable coaching and technical communication experience by working directly with clients. An NSE Fellow may hold between 50 and 90 coaching sessions each year, exposing them to a wide range of communication tasks, research topics, and student/postdoc experiences from within the department and beyond.

Every new Fellow works with a veteran Fellow who serves as a mentor during the onboarding process. In addition, new and seasoned Fellows regularly record videos of their coaching sessions (with the client’s permission) to review with their Comm Lab manager and continue to strengthen their coaching skills.

Access to resources and opportunities

All Fellows have access to field-specific communication resources and a wide range of professional development opportunities. These include:

  • An ever-growing library of authentic examples provided by NSE faculty and successful alumni, and resources from other Comm Labs across MIT SoE.
  • Professional development events such as workshops by field experts and cross-Comm Lab book clubs and hack-a-thons. Past topics included communication strategies for non-native speakers, communication for start-ups, and data visualization.
  • Participation in conferences about science communication (ex: ComSciCon, ASEE conferences), with registration and travel costs covered by the Comm Lab.
  • Curriculum design experience from developing workshops for specific classes or departmental events.
  • Customized feedback through one-on-one sessions with a writing specialist.

If you want to learn more about how the Fellows are trained, email NSE Comm Lab Manager Marina Dang (dangm@mit.edu) or talk to any Fellow you run into.