Society for Technical Communication
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The Society for Technical Communication (STC) is a professional association dedicated to the advancement of the theory and practice of technical communication. With membership of more than 6,000 technical communicators, it's the largest organization of its type in North America. The society publishes a quarterly journal and a magazine ten times a year and hosts an annual international conference (STC Technical Communication Summit). STC also provides high-quality online education in the form of live Web seminars, multi-week online certificate courses, virtual conferences, recorded seminars, and more. Association News magazine lauded the STC education program as an "incredible e-learning system" that provides "highly credible peer-to-peer learning while minimizing costs."
Headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, USA, STC is the largest organization of its type in the world according to its website. It includes 87 chapters, 11 Special Interest Groups (SIGs), and over 6,000 members worldwide. STC members work in a wide range of roles, including:
- Technical writing
- Content development
- Environmental, safety, and health communication
- Graphic arts
- Human factors
- Information architecture
- Instructional design
- Single source publishing
- Software development
- Technical illustration
- Visual design
- Web design
Most STC members belong to one or more communities, which are either geographic chapters or special interest groups (SIGs). Most chapters are in the United States, but STC includes members from 14 countries. The largest group outside the U.S. is the chapter in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
STC publishes a quarterly journal, Technical Communication, and a monthly magazine, Intercom.
The organization traces its roots to the Society of Technical Writers (STW) in Boston and the Association of Technical Writers and Editors (ATWE) in New York. Both were founded in the United States in 1953. These organizations merged in 1957 to form the Society of Technical Writers and Editors (STWE). In 1960, this group merged with the Technical Publishing Society (TPS), based in Los Angeles, to become the Society of Technical Writers and Publishers. In 1971, the organization's name was changed to the Society for Technical Communication.
The organization's main journal developed from the TWE Journal to the STWE Review to the STWP Review to Technical Communications to Technical Communication. Editors of this journal have included Douglas E. Knight, Allan H. Lytel, A. Stanley Higgins, Frank R. Smith, George Hayhoe, and Menno de Jong.
Other important leaders in the history of STC include Robert T. Hamlett (first president of ATWE), A. E. Tyler (first president of TPS), Samuel A. Miles (president of the Society of Technical Writers and Editors, which became ATWE's New York chapter in 1955), Vernon R. Root, Robert O. Shockney, and Stello Jordan. In 2011, Alan Houser was elected vice president of the organization; per their by-laws, he became president in 2012, and was succeeded by his own vice president Nicky Bleiel in 2013.
STC's annual publications competition for 2012-2013 was held in Washington, D.C. The organization also has branches internationally. On November 12, 2012, STC's branch in India held its 14th annual conference in Bangalore.
STC members are technical communicators who work across a wide range of fields. STC helps to support those individuals with access to best-in-class technical communication education and training programs, career development, and professional networking opportunities.
An individual can join STC as a Classic, Gold Value Package, New TC Professional, or Student member. Members can select the category that best fits their individual needs. STC also offers a Corporate Value Program that companies who employ five or more technical communicators. All STC memberships operate on a calendar-year basis (rather than anniversary).
- Classic membership: The member receives access to a wealth of benefits to support their career. This category includes access to online publications, free archived seminars, the salary database, and STC Job Bank. Classic members also receive discounts on STC events and education.
- Gold Value Package membership: This package combines the benefits of Classic membership and built-in education. Members receive Classic member benefits and membership in one chapter and one Special Interest Group (SIG). Gold Value Package members also receive five live webinars, 50% off an online course, and heavily discounted registration for the STC Summit as part of their membership.
- New TC Professional membership: This membership aims to aid in the transition from student to new professional. Individuals who have graduated in the past three years are eligible for this option. New TC Professional members receive Classic member benefits, as well as membership in a chapter and SIG.
- Student membership: Students actively seeking a degree can join STC as a student and receive Classic member benefits, membership in a professional and student chapter, the academic SIG, and a SIG of their choosing.
- Corporate Value Program: Companies with five or more employees interested in membership can join STC and receive discounted membership prices for each employee who joins. The individuals receive Classic membership benefits while the company receives added benefits as well.
Any STC member can choose to join a professional chapter, student chapter, or SIG. The professional and student chapters are primarily regionally though many have a strong online presence that allows for members around the world to participate. SIGs are composed of STC members with common experiences and interests who share their knowledge online.
Technical Communication Summit (Annual Conference)
In May or June of each year, STC holds the Technical Communication Summit, the largest conference for technical communicators in the world. The Summit includes over 80 education session broken up into relevant subject areas or tracks; networking events such as the Opening General Session, Welcome Reception, Communities Reception, and Closing Lunch; an Honors Banquet; and an exhibit hall with dozens of companies offering technical communication products or services. The Summit also includes preconference education for an additional price.
Also included in the conference registration is post-conference access to STC's Summit@aClick. This unique feature provides audio/graphic synchronized recordings of almost all the sessions. Summit@aClick takes away the problem of only being able to attend one session per hour. You can benefit from all of the education and information available at the Summit by listening and watching the other sessions on Summit@aClick after you get home. This product is also available for purchase by non-attendees.
With education, networking, and professional development opportunities, attendees regularly say that they love the STC Summit.
In addition to the Technical Communication Summit, STC offers online education both to its members and nonmembers, with members receiving discounted registration rates. STC offers both live and recorded online education:
- Multi-week Online Courses. STC offers multiple online courses for more in-depth learning. The courses are typically divided into 90-minute sessions and presented live online over several weeks. Through STC’s online courses, attendees can strengthen foundational skills and advance their knowledge of the profession.
- Virtual Conferences. STC offers two to four virtual conferences each year. Virtual conferences are usually three-day events, three hours per day, with multiple sessions per day on the overall topic. Past topics have included technical editing, usability and accessibility, content strategy for mobile devices, and starting your own business; recordings of past virtual conferences are also available.
- Live Web Seminars. The Society produces multiple live, one-hour, Web seminars each month on technical communication topics ranging from accessibility to user experience design. Expertise levels range from beginner to advanced with audio via the phone or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and the presentation via the Web.
- Recorded Web Seminars. STC's recorded Web seminars are recordings of our popular live Web seminars, allowing technical communicators to view them at any time and on any computer. The webinars are recorded within AdobeConnect and include the audio of the webinar plus the PowerPoint presentation. More recordings are constantly being added.
- Free Archived Seminars (members-only). This is an archive of STC seminars, free for members to watch at their leisure. The audio recording of the sessions has been synched up to the PowerPoint presentation and is available in an embedded video player. There are almost 150 free seminars available to members for viewing as of the end of 2013.
STC recognizes outstanding individuals by conferring the titles of Fellow, Associate Fellow, and Honorary Fellow. STC's Honorary Fellow for 2009 was "Jimmy Wales, the founder and creator of Wikipedia."
STC also sponsors honorary societies for technical communication students with a grade point average of 3.5 or above:
- Sigma Tau Chi recognizes students in four-year or graduate programs
- Alpha Sigma recognizes students in two-year or certificate programs
- American Medical Writers Association
- Council of Science Editors
- IEEE Professional Communication Society
- SIGDOC, the Special Interest Group on Design of Communication of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
- Technical communication
- Technical writer
- Technical writing
- Wikiversity Technical Writing course
- GeoComm Technical Writers Receive Award of Excellence from the Society for Technical Communication. Directions Magazine, Tuesday, April 23rd 2013.
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- About STC. © 2013 Center for Information-Development Management.
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- "STC Communities". Retrieved 3 April 2011.
- Al Martine, Interesting Times: Challenges and Opportunities for Technical Communication. Tech Whirl, May 16, 2012.
- Four Energetics Products Win Society for Technical Communication Awards. VSE Corporation, 1/31/2013.
- 14th Society for Technical Communication (STC) India Annual Conference at Build A Cloud. Copyright © 2012 Citrix Systems.
- "Sept 2008 News and Notes" (PDF). p. 3. Retrieved 2009-05-06.
- "Sigma Tau Chi and Alpha Sigma Awards". Retrieved 5 January 2010.