As a writer in a technical writing course, you may need some strategies for finding topics for writing projects, which are provided in this section.

By definition, technical-writing courses are opportunities to focus on practical uses of your writing skills. In the ideal technical-writing course, you would have a work-related writing project every two to three weeks: for example, instructions for that pesky fax machine down the hall or recommendations on home alarm systems. However, technical-writing courses are also great opportunities for exploring science and technology: latest advances in nanotechnology, latest theories about the origin of the universe, latest methods for hydroponic gardening. If your instructor encourages you to find your own topics, take a look at the following suggestions.

Cutting-Edge Technologies
How ambitious and daring are you? The link below takes you to some amazing, crazy inventions and discoveries.
Gizmag.com clippings


Volunteer Opportunities
Find a service-learnig opportunity that involves some writing!
Read about Service Learning. In particular, take a look at the volunteer opportunities


Topic Ideas for Technical-Writing Courses
Peruse these topics—see if any possibilities for projects come to mind.
Mind-controlled devices
Graphene Driverless autos Water purification Computer face recognition
Wormholes Superstrings 3D printing High-definition TV
Anthropocene era Unmanned avionics (drones) Green roofs WiFi
Global warming Deforestation Acid rain Ozone depletion
Rain forests Continental drift Greenhouse effect Endangered species
Industrial waste disposal Mount St. Helens eruption Solar energy devices Nuclear power
Plate tectonics Solar automobiles Petroleum-based energy Thermal power
Wind energy Freon Mass transportation Nuclear fusion
Microwave technologies Bomb detection methods High-tech weaponry Advances in automotives
Xeriscaping Soil analysis Hybridization techniques Hydroponics
Recycling Drip irrigation Alternative agriculture Desalination methods
Genetic engineering World Wide Web Computer video Multimedia
Computer memory Computer animation Fiber optics Computer audio
Virtual reality Artificial intelligence Telecomputing Telecommuting
Advanced compact disks Cellular telephones Personal digital assistants Videoconferencing
Digital interactive TV UFOs Satellite TV Object-oriented programming
Digital imaging Cable TV Computer-aided education Neural networks
Teleconferencing Advances in telephony CD-ROM technology Computer graphics
Distance education Computer crime DVD technology Robotics
Tech Prep Virtual classroom Expert systems Devices for diabetics
Advanced prostheses Artificial heart Diabetes Artificial limbs
Kidney transplants Alzheimer's disease Hypoglycemia AIDS
Ebola Encephalitis Knee/hip replacements Carcinogens
Hyperkinetic behavior Caffeine Saccharine Psychosomatic disorders
Nicotine Genetic engineering Vitamin therapies Magnetic resonance imaging
Recombinant DNA Gulf War Syndrome Ultrasound Sickle cell anemia
Agent Orange Inflation Recession Capital-punishment methods
Dream research Balanced budget Abortion methods Handwriting analysis
Dyslexia Biorhythms Pheromones Wellness programs
Acupuncture Big Bang Theory Life on Mars Saturn expedition
Extraterrestrial intelligence Gout Supernova Mars expedition
Halley's Comet Universe Space shuttles Uranus expedition
Black holes The Moon Volcanoes Sink holes
Venus Tornadoes Hurricanes Earthquakes
Monsoons Droughts Whales Boa constrictors
Rattlesnakes Sharks Geckoes Panda bears
Black widows Iguanas Wolves Eagles
Dolphins Scorpions Coyotes Dinosaurs
Influenza Panic attacks Heart attacks Breast cancer
Lung cancer Bioengineered foods Migraines Nanotechnology


Ideas for Audiences
See if the following list of audiences brings to mind technical-writing projects.
City council members Parent-teacher association Downtown renovation commission
Neighborhood association City transportation board Rural utilities cooperative
Recycling special interest group Student parking action group Student housing board
City mass transportation agency Business secretary association Pet owners society
Save-our-trees action group Citizens antipornography league City beautification commission
Alternative energy-resource investors Friends of sidewalk artists Housing for the homeless society
Computer animators society Alternative-transportation action group College solar-automobile club
High-school science teachers association City busriders support group Drug-rehab center board
Citizens-against-crime league Computer-game design society Your local government representative
City mayor County commissioners Home-brewers and microbrewers club
Organic foods cooperative Student housing cooperative Local wine makers society
Student services director

Academic and Workplace-Oriented Majors
Consider interesting courses or projects related to your major or any of the following.
Accounting Air conditioning technology Aerospace technology Refrigeration technology
Astronomy Automotive technology Biology Biotechnology
Engineering Chemistry Child development Computer science
Culinary arts Diagnostic medical imaging Electronics Building construction technology
Emergency medical service technology Engineering design graphics Information records management Physical fitness technology
Geomatics (land surveying technology) Fire protection technology Medical lab technology Meteorology
Molecular genetics Urban studies Engineering Marine biology
Molecular biology Biochemistry Petroleum engineering Geosystems engineering
Neurobiology Mechanical engineering Electrical engineering Biomedical engineering
Military science Civil engineering Chemical engineering Nursing
Occupational therapy Office systems technology Pharmacy technology Photography
Geology Physics Printing technology Quality assurance
Surgical technology Technical communication Welding technology X-ray operations

Interesting Magazines and Journals
Go to your local library or newsstand and flip through some of the following.
Flying Mother Earth News Magazine Popular Photography
Issues in Medical Ethics Wood Magazine 4 Wheel & Off Road magazine
Air & Space Magazine Audio Magazine Smithsonian
Home Improver Magazine Family Business Magazine PC Magazine
Byte Magazine Family Handyman Magazine
Anthropological Linguistics Nature Astronomy Magazine
Scientific American National Geographic Cogeneration
Energy Research News Lab Animal Molecular Vision
Neuron Petroleum Equipment & Technology BBC News: Science and Technology
Electronic Journal of Biotechnology American Naturalist Nuclear Plant Journal
Garden and Forest Water, Air, and Soil Pollution Forest Ecology and Management
Weed Research Wetlands Ecology and Management Conscious Choice: The Journal of Ecology & Natural Living
Issues in Science and Technology Technology & Culture Electric Vehicle World
Discover Magazine Distant Star GEO Magazine
Gene Therapy Weekly Home Power Magazine Physics World
Robot Science & Technology UFO Digest Sea Technology
UFO Magazine NanoTechnology Magazine Popular Mechanics
Popular Science Technology Review Cyberspace Today
Wired Space Business International Amateur Astronomy Magazine
Sky & Telescope CNN: Sci-Tech Brain & Mind
Journal of Prisoners on Prisons Electronic House Online Home Energy
Popular Home Automation Hazardous Materials Management Magazine Professional Boatbuilder Magazine
Practical Hydroponics & Greenhouses Progressive Farmer Today Potato Grower
Pest Control Technology (PCT) Goat Farmer Magazine Disaster Recovery Journal
Upholster Magazine CleanRooms Worm Digest
Recycling Today Magazine American Waste Digest American Small Farm Magazine
Pacific Fishing Urban Transportation Monitor Advanced Rescue Technology
Pit and Quarry Magazine Corrections Technology & Management Magazine Wireless Access Technologies
Journal of Emergency Medical Services


Interesting Websites
Browse some these websites for ideas.
Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. Provided by the Georgia Tech Mobile Robot Lab: site Humanoid Project. From Waseda University (Japan), its project to develop a humanoid robot: site
Robotics. From the Seattle Robotics Society: site Virtual Reality Society. News, software, links, introductory information about virtual reality: site
Solar Car Page. Lots of information about and links to solar-powered cars: site National UFO Reporting Center. For the collection and distribution of objective UFO data: site
Introduction to Artificial Intelligence. A free course provided by udacity.com. site Fractalzone. Provided by Philippe Wautelet, a good introduction to fractals and links to related sites: site
Virtual Worlds at MIT. Symposium: Learning environments, Global communities, Second Life, Wonderland, Google Earth, and more. site Human Powered Transportation Committee. From the American Society of Civil Engineers, a group dedicated to incorporating human-powered transportation (walking and bicycling) into transportation systems: site
Solar Buildings Program. From the Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network: site U.S. Department of Energy's Wind Energy Program. Applications, innovations, links to related sites: site
American Association for Wind Engineering. An organization for promoting the research and professional practice of as well as for distributing information on wind engineering: site
Bergen County Academies—Nano-Structural Imaging Lab: site U.S. Department of Energy's Biomass Power Program. About biomass power, current biopower projects, technical reports, general explanations for average citizens: site
U.S. Fusion Energy Sciences Program. A knowledge base for an economically and environmentally attractive fusion energy source: site Cold Fusion Times. Journal on the scientific aspects of loading isotopic fuels into materials as well as related topics: site
Biofuels Information Center. Provided by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory: site Scientists for Global Responsibility. Web site promoting socially responsible and ethical uses of science and technology: site
The Future of Food. Provided by the American Museum of Natural History: site Ethanol Vehicle Challenge. From the College of Engineering, Center for Environmental Research and Technology at University of California, Riverside: site
GreenerCars Ratings. Provided by greenercars.org, part of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE): site Veggie Van. A small motorhome powered by a clean-burning fuel made from used and new vegetable oil. site
DOE Transportation Technologies. From the DOE Office of Transportation Technologies, in the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office of the Department of Energy: site What Is Cybernetics? From the Department of Industrial Technology, Bradford University, UK: site
Hybrid Electric Vehicles. Provided by the U.S. Department of Energy's Clean Cities program: site Ralph C. Merkle's Cryonics Webpage. Discussion and links concerning cryonics: site
What Is Biomedical Visualization? Available at vimedo.com: site Artificial Heart Program. From the University of Pittsburgh, its research and clinical program for the treatment of end-stage heart failure: site
American Cryonics Society. Preserving the whole body, head, or brain, of persons recently declared legally dead, in the hope of revival at some time in the future. Available at Wikipedia.org: site The Visible Human Project. MRI cross-sections of the human body with explanations: site
Manufacturing at the molecular level! Information and links to articles and websites about nanotechnology provided by Ralph C. Merkle: site SETI Institute. Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute, an organization devoted to scientific and educational projects relating to life in the universe: site
International Space Station. NASA's website for this project: site Project Skylab. NASA's Skylab Project: site">site
Superluminal Motion: Concerning faster-than-the-speed-of-light travel. Provided by scienceworld.wolfram.com: site Physics and Star Trek. Jason W. Hinson's explanations for the "science" in science fiction (especially Star Trek) based on current physics: site">site
"Companion Object" Near Hale-Bopp Comet? Links concerning the comet, possible UFOs, cover-ups, and other X-File-ish things: site Time Travel. Possibilities of time travel: site
Human Genome Organisation. Human Genome Organisation (HUGO), the international organization with the global initiative to map and sequence the human genome: site DOE Human Genome Program Home Page. Department of Energy's website on the human genome project: site
Human Cloning and Genetic Engineering. Provided by Arthur Kerschen of the University of Arizona, discussion and links related to genetic engineering—human cloning, in particular: site How to Clone a Human. Also provided by Arthur Kerschen of the University of Arizona: site


Work Place: Ideas for Technical-Writing Projects
What's going on at work? Are the projects there, just waiting for you? Browse some of these ideas:
Does the office need a new photocopy machine?
Are you considering a fax machine? a CD writer? a digital camera?
Is the staff expected to use a new software application for which there is no user guide?
Are you and other employees interested in telecommuting (using electronic and computer methods to work at home)?
Is management considering putting all operating procedures and other administrative materials online?
Has your agency been challenged to go "paperless"—to get all files stored and searchable electronically?
Have you been tasked with recommending a personal digital assistant, cell phone, or notebook computer for all employees in your company?


Problems, Problems, Problems . . .
A good source for volunteer projects is Idealist at www.idealist.org, a site run by Action Without Borders, a non-profit foundation. It lists 10,000 Web sites for non-profit organizations, information on volunteering, jobs, and projects.
Inadequate public transportation Lack of parking Overflowing land fills
Smog and otherwise dirty air Crowded streets and highways Crime, vandalism
Homeless people Lack of daycare facilities Unemployment
Lack of low-cost housing Dwindling water supplies Expensive electricity
Natural areas threatened by urban development Lack of parks and recreational facilities Lack of facilities for the elderly
Rodent infestations Mosquitoes Lack of vegetation (trees, shrubbery, etc.)
Projects for nonprofits Lack of facilities for young people Expensive water