TR1: Technology Transitions

In this assignment, you will complete a technical report about the financial consequences of a technology transition that illustrates the problem of financial tradeoffs in time (pay more now, save more later).  Examples of previous technology transition topics have included:

  • Electric vs. hybrid vs. natural gas vs. diesel vs. gasoline cars
  • LED vs. CFL vs. incandescent bulbs
  • Natural gas vs. electric appliances
  • Photovoltaics vs. grid-connected electricity

Applications of financial, time=dependent trade-offs in civil engineering design are common. For example, thicker pavement courses will reduce future maintenance and resurfacing expenses.  Bigger water distribution pipes will reduce pumping costs.   More detail on technology transitions can be found on the blog post located here: Technical Transitions.  The blog post also contains useful information regarding ways to assess the technologies and how to structure your reports.

To begin this assignment, you must form Critviz groups of no more than 4 students and propose a technology transition topic of your choice that allows you to perform a cash flow analysis of the financial tradeoff.  Include a brief description of your imaginary client.  Are you writing to college students?  Retirees?  Mid-career professionals?


Good writers attend to the needs of their audiences.  Although you are writing this report for a class, you are not writing the report as students.  Do think of your audience as an expert professor.  Instead, think of yourselves as professional consultants, writing to the  intelligent but non-expert reader you described as your client.

In any professional writing situation, audience awareness is one of the most fundamental aspects of the writing process.

With any of these transitions, there are going to be things that your audience knows and/or does not know about them, and as a writer, it is your responsibility to determine or approximate what your audience’s information needs are regarding the transition—“What does my audience need to know to understand the transition and make a decision in their own best interest?”


Your report must make specific actionable recommendations to your imaginary client.  In this way, the report helps inform a real-world problem.  With regarding to the learning objectives of the class, this assignment advances the written communication, teamwork, and mathematical problem-solving objectives.

Report Outline

The following outline as been successful in the past.  You may adapt it to your own needs, so long as the information

  • Executive summary, including actionable recommendation (less than one page)
  • Introduction (including background material on technologies and problem statement)
  • Investigative methods
  • Results and discussion (including graphs and sensitivity analyses).
  • Recommendations
  • References Cited
  • Appendices (e.g., sample calculations, links to software models & project webpages).

Note: Submission via e-mail will not be accepted. Submit only through CritViz.

Remember that you will have an opportunity to revise you TR1.  It’s better to upload a draft to CritViz early, thinking that you’ll replace it right before the deadline, than it is to get stuck with uploading nothing at all because you experienced technical difficulties.

Sample Technical Reports

Student Sample Report 1

Student Sample Report 2

Student Sample Report 3

Grading Rubric

Your Tech Report will be graded on the following criteria:

  1. Audience Awareness
    • Is your recommendation geared to the specific audience assigned?
    • Are your visuals properly, clearly, and fully explained?
  2. Competency of economic principles
    • Have you applied the economic/business formulas in an appropriate and correct manner?
  3. Professionalism
    • Does your technical report appear more like a “student” essay or a “professional” report?
    • Is the report written with authority?
    • To what extent does the design of the report reflect professional standards?
  4. Organizational clarity
    • Has your report thoroughly discussed every required section for the report?
    • Is the report’s organization user-centered?
  5. Thorough research
    • To what extent does your final recommendation reflect research-based information?
    • Have your provided appropriate citation?

1 thought on “TR1: Technology Transitions

  1. jonathanedgington

    Is there a one size fits all box for Technical Reports or can outside the box thinking achieve the same success as standardized scientific reporting standards suggest ?

    Words of wisdom “The scientist seeks to understand what is… the engineer seeks to create what never was…Theodore von Karman.”


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