Technical Communicators of Florida and Beyond,
On this, my three-year anniversary as your Memo to Members editor, I would like to you all to know that it has been an honor to serve in this role. I mentioned back in December’s edition that I have decided to pass on this honor to a worthy successor so that I may explore other roles within the chapter. My successor and I have already initiated the knowledge transfer process, which will continue up to just before the May 20-23 STC Technical Communication Summit in Orlando. I will then hand over the reins once and for all. In fact, this edition of MtM was co-edited by my Newsletter Apprentice—a title that will soon be outdated, as she is rapidly mastering the craft.
So, without any further delay, I am pleased to introduce your new Memo to Members editor for mid-2018 and on. Please give it up for…
Emily, a recent University of Central Florida (UCF) graduate, has been very active in bridging the gap between our STC chapter and the Future Technical Communicators (FTC) club of UCF. In fact, she served as student co-manager (with STC Fellow Dan Voss) in coordinating our internationally recognized student mentoring program—which partners established technical writers with FTC students—through the 2016–2017 academic year and the first semester of the 2017–2018 year before transitioning that position to Misty Arner to take on her Newsletter Apprenticeship.
With her uproarious wit and proven dedication, I have no doubt that Emily will soon do great things as Communications Manager and Newsletter Editor for our chapter.
Holy segues, dear communicators! Speaking of FTC and UCF…
It’s time for our annual FTC/STC joint meeting at UCF!
FTC at UCF and the Orlando Central Florida (OCF) Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication (STC) will be hosting a mini-conference on technical communication on Tuesday, February 13 in the UCF Student Union 316A from 6:30-8:30 p.m. This year’s mini-conference will employ a rotational method of lectures called a progression. The meeting comprises three 25-minute miniature seminars at venues (aka, tables), each festooned with a balloon color-coded for the presenter’s subject.
Admission is free, and anyone interested in technical communication is invited.
The traditional multi-hued balloons will flutter above the six progression tables (a.k.a., venues) as the annual FTC/STC meeting comes to the Student Union Building at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 13, at UCF. The program is entitled “Reach the Summit—at the Conference and in Your Career.”
The focus of the February 13 meeting at UCF is on the upcoming 65th annual STC international conference coming to Orlando May 20-23 (Summit 2018) and on the diverse career paths available within the technical communication field.
Offering a wealth of knowledge conveyed in a carnival-like package, this informative and festive event combines professional growth. Admission is free—and it comes with catered refreshments from Chik-fil-A!
Like the “Pick a Path” career-oriented meeting at UCF last year and the content-oriented “Mining for Knowledge” meeting the year before, the February 13 meeting is in a progression format. Three rotations of six topics hosted at color-coded venues give attendees the opportunity to explore the upcoming Summit and take a look at career options within technical communication.
We offer more articles about this landmark event in this edition of MtM; just look for the FTC/STC banner as shown above!
Also in this edition:
- A word from our President, whom one might say is over the moon about the recent rocket launch!
- A word from our Secretary, with a recap of our blockbuster MadCap Flare presentation from January!
- A word from our Treasurer, with a public service announcement about the great opportunity for student volunteerism at the Summit!
Editor, Memo To Members
By: Alex Garcia
(Orlando Central) Florida Chapter, STC
Article written 6 February 2018
“There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’d like to come and meet us
But he thinks he’d blow our minds
There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’s told us not to blow it
Cause he knows it’s all worthwhile”
“Starman” by David Bowie
Dear members and friends, you’ll have to indulge my geekiness this month in President’s Corner. Today, my husband and I ventured out to Titusville, FL to witness the test launch of a new super-rocket: the SpaceX Falcon Heavy. This spacecraft, a three stage rocket with three boosters, had as much thrust as the Saturn V rocket that took us to the moon in the 1970s. Meaning, it was the largest rocket launched in my lifetime. As a degreed rocket scientist, this launch was monumental for me.
The payload? A 2008 candy apple red Tesla Roadster convertible, because WHY NOT? The passenger? A mannequin named Starman. The course? A perpetual, heliocentric, elliptical Hohmann transfer orbit. From our friends at Bill Nye the Science Guy’s The Planetary Society, here is a little more about Starman’s projected trajectory:
A Hohmann transfer orbit can take a spacecraft from Earth to Mars. The orbit is an elliptical one, where the periapsis (nearest point) is at Earth’s distance from the Sun and the apoapsis (farthest point) is at Mars’ distance from the Sun. The transfer orbit has to be timed so that when the spacecraft departs Earth, it will arrive at its orbit apoapsis when Mars is at the same position in its orbit. Earth and Mars align properly for a Hohmann transfer once every 26 months.
We need to understand all of the achievements that took place within the first six hours of today’s mission:
- Two previously-flown Falcon 9 first-stage boosters lifted a center core, and then landed, simultaneously at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
- An unproven two-stage center core carried a fairing and payload to Earth escape velocity. It attempted a water landing, but did not survive.
- An unproven fairing third stage deployed a payload, sending it off into the Hohmann Transfer Orbit.
- The payload survived the radiation of Earth’s Van Allen belt.
This flight was a proving ground for the technologies that will take humans back to space, past low-Earth orbit. I honestly cannot wait for the achievements to continue.
So, my fellow technical communicators, embrace your geekiness, and embrace the TECHNICAL part of our profession. Become the subject matter experts in whatever you are documenting. If it’s hardware: tear it apart and rebuild it. If it’s software: try to break it.
UPDATE 10:00 PM 2/6/18: The rocket’s second stage burned too long, meaning Starman and the Tesla overshot the Hohmann Transfer Orbit. They have entered a heliocentric orbit that will take them past Mars and into the Asteroid Belt. Such is life in orbital dynamics. Elon Musk’s Twitter update read:
Here is Elon Musk’s last picture of Starman before his car’s 24 hour batteries expired. Godspeed, Starman!
By: Crystal Brezina
Orlando Central Florida Chapter, STC
On Thursday, January 18, the Orlando Central Florida chapter of STC convened at Riptide Software in Oviedo for their monthly meeting.
Bethany Agaud and Darci Kingry from Fiserv presented the content management platform MadCap Flare, a topic-based technical documentation tool. Bethany and Darci gave an overview describing how MadCap Flare works and how they use the tool at Fiserv for technical communication. Bethany and Darci showed their combined knowledge of MadCap Flare to present MadCap Flare for inexperienced users and to provide tips for improving your Madcap Flare skills. After, Bethany and Darci facilitated a question and answer section to discuss the tool with experienced users.
Don’t Miss the February 13 Meeting at UCF!
Annual FTC/STC Meeting Previews STC Summit as Our Young Leaders Take the International Stage
By: Dan Voss
Education Committee Member
Orlando Central Florida Chapter, STC
The traditional multi-hued balloons will flutter above the six progression tables (a.k.a., venues) as the annual Future Technical Communicators (FTC)/STC meeting comes to UCF from 6:30 to 8:55 p.m. on Tuesday, February 13, in the Student Union, Room 316A. The program is titled “Reach the Summit: at the Conference and in Your Career.”
The twin focus of the February 13 meeting is on the upcoming 65th annual STC technical communication conference coming to Orlando May 20–23 (hereinafter referred to as Summit 2018) and on the diverse career paths available within the technical communication field.
Offering a wealth of knowledge conveyed in an informative and festive package, this event is a “don’t miss”—not only for UCF students, but also for professionals in the Orlando Central Florida (OCF) Chapter. Admission is free. And it comes with catered refreshments from Chik-fil-A!
Like the career-oriented “Pick a Path“ meeting at UCF last year and the content-oriented “Mining for Knowledge“ meeting the year before, the February 13 meeting is in a progression format. Three rotations of six topics hosted at color-coded venues give attendees the opportunity to explore the upcoming Summit 2018 and take a look at career options within technical communication.
Here’s What’s in Store for February 13
The matrix of progression rotations and venue topics for the February 13 meeting also serves as the program for the event.
The program features OCF Chapter member Dawn Claessen (Blue Venue) previewing her Summit 2018 presentation as well as taking a look at STC’s Special Interest Groups (SIGs), veteran conference speakers W.C. Wiese (Green Venue) and Dan Voss (Red Venue) with distillations of recent presentations that include a wealth of career tips, early-career professionals Bethany Aguad and Nick Ducharme (Gold Venue) with pointers on how to “jump-start” your career, and OCF Immediate Past President Debra Johnson (Burgundy Venue) with practical tips for attending the Summit and valuable advice for students on networking with professionals—at the Summit, within STC, and in the workplace.
That accounts for five of the six venues.
At the 6th table, the “Royal” Purple Venue, four of the OCF Chapter’s young Rising Stars—President Alex Garcia, Secretary Crystal Brezina, Treasurer Bethany Aguad, and Communications Manager/Newsletter Editor Nick Ducharme—preview the two presentations they are making at the Summit. Both presentations support the Summit theme: Communicating the Future.
Their first, scheduled for Leadership Day on Sunday, May 20, is titled “Forging the Future: Tips and Tools for (Re)Building Your STC Community.”
Their second—an Education Session slated 3:45–4:45 on Monday—is titled “Fueling Your Future: STC Experience Builds Professional Leadership Skills.” It shows how taking advantage of leadership opportunities as young professionals within an STC community translates directly into growth to assume leadership positions on the job.
Rising Stars in the International Spotlight
The selection process for Summit presentations is extremely competitive. For four early-career professionals to be presenting not once, but twice, at the international conference may well be unprecedented in the history of the Society.
If you want to see why, drop by the Purple Venue to see our Rising Stars in action.
In essence, as a “smorgasbord” of tasty tech comm topics, the February 13 event at UCF is a “mini-conference.” At the annual STC Summit, attendees derive maximum benefit from the experience by studying the conference program in advance and identifying which sessions are of greatest interest to them.
Similarly, attendees on February 13 can target any three of the six topics in the program matrix they feel to be most beneficial for them, both in planning to attend Summit 2018 and—in the case of student members—charting their course within our profession.
The last time the STC international conference came to town was back in Y2K, when it was jointly hosted by the Orlando and Suncoast chapters. The OCF Chapter, which recently merged with the Suncoast Chapter to form the nucleus of an evolving statewide STC community, is serving as STC’s host chapter for Summit 2018 at the Hyatt Regency on International Drive.
The twin sponsors of the February 13 event, the OCF Chapter and the Future Technical Communicators (FTC) organization at UCF, are also working together as Florida hosts for Summit 2018.
An Amazing Opportunity for Students
Student STC members from UCF join an 18-student volunteer corps that provides administrative support at the conference in return for free registration—a $200 value. In addition to gaining a wealth of technical knowledge from leaders in the technical communication field, the volunteers also have an exceptional opportunity to network with professional practitioners from all over the world.
Normally, attending the international STC conference as a student would cost several times the $200 student registration fee when you add the cost of travel, lodging, and incidentals. The last time UCF students had this opportunity was in 2000. It will likely be a long time before the international conference comes to Orlando again, if ever.
In addition to providing student volunteers from UCF, as the Summit 2018 host chapter, OCF is staffing a table in the registration area. Debra Johnson is serving on the Society’s 65th Anniversary Committee. FTC members and published STC authors within the chapter are writing a sterling series of articles in STC’s monthly Intercom magazine, offering Summit attendees suggestions about things to do besides the “main event” while they are visiting Central Florida.
Jack’s Coming Back!
OCF is well represented on the Summit 2018 program. In addition to Dawn Claessen and our Rising Stars team mentioned above, we’ll be represented by marquee Summit speaker and author Jack Molisani, an OCF member from Jacksonville, who is making two conference presentations here in May. Jack is an exceptionally dynamic speaker who presented career-oriented tips from his 2014 and 2015 STC international conference presentations at Orlando Chapter meetings in August 2014 and August 2015—Washlines XIX and Washlines XX, respectively. These were the last two editions of a 20-year series of festive panel- and progression-style August meetings at which chapter members shared information gathered from the previous spring’s international STC conference.
The 2016 “Pick a Path” and 2017 “Mining for Knowledge” FTC/STC chapter meetings at UCF picked up on the colorful Washlines tradition, balloons and all—and the February 13 meeting “Reach the Summit” carries it on.
The OCF chapter is pleased to announce that Jack will be back in Orlando before his Summit 2018 appearance in May. He’ll be presenting at our chapter employment meeting on March 22. That’s another “don’t miss.”
All in all, the February 13 meeting, the March 22 meeting, and Summit 2018 on May 20–23 are exceptional opportunities for professional growth, networking, and plain old fun.
Don’t miss out! Mark your calendars for all three!
Students! Take Advantage of This Volunteer Opportunity!
Turbocharging Your Career at the Orlando Summit
By: Andy Romero
Student Member, Orlando Central Florida Chapter, STC
The 2018 STC Summit Conference offers STC student members the opportunity to serve as volunteers at the May 20-23 event, where you will experience top-notch technical training in conference education sessions and network with well-established professionals.
The student registration fee of $200 will be waived if you serve as a volunteer. In addition, since this year’s Summit is right here in Orlando, you will not incur the formidable cost of travel, lodging, and incidentals as you would when the conference is in another city.
In addition to earning students a complimentary registration, volunteering at the Summit positively impacts students’ careers by increasing their overall exposure to the technical communication field. At the conference, student volunteers can engage in technical communication topics beyond the classroom. They can also build their professional networks and strengthen their resumes and portfolios.
Attending the Summit is worth its weight in gold in terms of job placement and career advancement within the technical communication profession.
The opportunity to attend the 65th annual STC Summit Conference as a student volunteer in Orlando has only one precedent—when the Orlando Chapter hosted the event back in 2000. The likelihood of the conference coming to Orlando again any time soon is low.
But hurry! There are only 18 positions for student member volunteers, and with the conference in Florida, they are going to fill rapidly. I have already secured my volunteer position, and I urge my fellow students to get yours as well.
For details on what student volunteers do and how to apply for a student volunteer position at the Summit, see the article by Bethany Aguad in this edition of MtM.
Another professional growth opportunity for UCF technical communication students is right on the horizon. In addition to the STC Summit Conference, the UCF Future Technical Communicators (FTC) organization at UCF is hosting our annual joint meeting with STC on Tuesday, February 13, from 6:30 to 8:55 p.m. in the Student Union,
The program, titled Reach the Summit: At the Conference and in Your Career, gives students the chance to preview some of the presentations at the upcoming STC Summit, as well as to explore the diverse career paths within the technical communication field.
For a detailed description of the topics being offered at the six “Venues” in the progression-style program, see the article by Dan Voss in this edition of MtM. In essence, the February 13 FTC/STC meeting here at UCF is a mini-conference covering many aspects of technical communication. As a Student Government Associated (SGA)-supported event, it’s free of charge for all attendees, and it includes free catered refreshments supplied by the Orlando Central Florida STC Chapter.
I highly encourage my fellow students who are interested in “touring” the various technical communication occupations and in networking with veteran STC conference presenters to attend the February 13 meeting.
I also urge you to take advantage of the exceptional opportunity to attend the STC Summit free as a local student member volunteer.
By: Bethany Aguad
Treasurer and Co-Manager, Education Committee
Orlando Central Florida Chapter, STC
The STC Summit is accepting student volunteer applications now, and the 18 spots are going to fill up quickly. Volunteering at the Society for Technical Communication Summit is the least expensive investment you can make in your career. It’s free!
The qualifications for a student volunteer are simple—Are you an STC student member, and do you want to attend the world’s premier technical communication conference for free? If yes, then this opportunity is for you!
The 2018 Summit takes place May 20–23 at the Hyatt Regency on I-Drive here in Orlando. The Summit is packed with more than 60 education sessions with topics covering all aspects of technical writing, editing, project management, and publication production. These sessions begin Monday morning and continue through Wednesday morning. Not only does volunteering allow you to capitalize on your STC membership and receive complimentary registration, but it also provides you access to networking opportunities with professional practitioners that you would miss as a regular attendee.
Here are my top reasons you should take advantage of this opportunity to volunteer:
- You will avoid paying the $200 student registration fee.
- You will work directly with STC members and presenters from around the globe.
- You will learn the latest in technical communication tools and trends.
- You will have a fantastic resume-building item.
- As central Florida locals, you will avoid the high costs of travel, lodging, and incidentals.
- You will get to represent the Orlando Central Florida chapter, FTC, and the UCF English department.
If you have never been to the Summit, then I can understand why you might be intimidated by the prospect of registering as a student volunteer. I attended my first STC Summit as a student volunteer, and I even stepped up the following year to help coordinate the student volunteers. (I actually wrote an article about my experience for Memo to Members: First Time at the STC Summit.) The STC Summit has the following student volunteer positions: room monitors and registration clerks. Both positions have a light workload and provide countless opportunities to take advantage of everything the Summit has to offer.
Sign Up as a Student Volunteer Now
To sign up, please complete the Student Volunteer Application Form as soon as possible, and send it to STC’s Education Manager, Deborah Krat, and the Student Volunteer Coordinator, Carolyn Klinger. The posted deadline is April 2, 2018, but I believe the 18 positions will be filled well before then.
When I first attended the STC Summit as a student volunteer, I found that the knowledge, connections, and confidence I gained exceeded all of my expectations. If you take advantage of this exceptional opportunity, I am confident you will feel the same way.