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University of Wisconsin - Madison College of Engineering

Laura R Grossenbacher

Laura R. Grossenbacher
Technical Communication Program

A s director of the Technical Communication Program since 2003, Laura Grossenbacher has become a vital teacher, collaborator, mentor and administrator. She teaches a host of courses, the most regularly of which is EPD 397: Technical Communication. In addition to teaching other staple communication courses, including EPD 497: Technical Editing and EPD 155: Basic Communication, Grossenbacher has collaborated with faculty members from various departments to integrate communication into engineering courses across the college. Several of these collaborations have been supported by the Engineering Beyond Boundaries initiative (formerly COE 2010), including integrating technical writing into InterEngr 102: Introduction to Society’s Grand Challenges, implementing effective communication teaching strategies into two senior design classes, and developing online communication modules to improve skills transfer in the College of Engineering.

Her teaching abilities are internationally regarded. In 2006, she traveled to Toulouse, France, to co-lead a group of students, becoming the first Engineering Professional Development professor to participate in the college international programs. In 2008, she taught a section of EPD 397 at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China, and she has been invited to help Zhejiang develop a technical communications course for their engineering students. She is also an instructor for InterEng 413: Current Issues in International Engineering, a required capstone course in the popular Certificate in International Engineering.

Grossenbacher is a trusted mentor for students. “Laura excels in helping you flesh out a promising idea, nudging you to do more with it, and then letting you take ownership,” says Engineering Physics research assistant Kyle Oliver, who as an undergraduate student worked with Grossenbacher to develop EPD 690: Social and Ethical Impacts of Technology.

Ethics is a topic Grossenbacher is passionate about, as she has served as advisor for the UW-Madison Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl and consistently incorporates ethics topics into her classes.

Grossenbacher has received numerous awards, grants and honors, and she has participated in various college committees and workshops. Her colleagues rave about her administrative abilities. “I can’t image a fairer, more honest, more industrious or more collegial director,” says one.

Another colleague says Grossenbacher’s success with students—whose evaluations include comments like “Laura is amazing” and “Give Laura a raise”—comes down to her ability to understand and appreciate engineering, though she comes from a non—engineering background. Her Ph.D. in English is from the University of Texas at Austin.

“This willingness to engage with her students in their own field of expertise makes her teaching style extraordinarily effective and sets a high standard for the entire program.”