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Master’s Student Writes Article
For Major Technical Communication Magazine

April 7, 2009

Mark Vanderhoek
(478) 301-4037

MACON — Mercer University graduate student Elizabeth Filippo recently published a feature article in the one of the major technical communication journals, Intercom. Filippo, of Waukesha, Wisc., is working Online through the School of Engineering’s Master of Science in Technical Communication and will complete her degree in August.

The article was published in the January 2009 issue of the Society for Technical Communication’s Intercom magazine. Filippo completed the research for the article during her capstone course in the MSTCO program in the summer of 2008. One of Filippo’s deliverables for the course was an article titled “The Road to Personas,” which explained her findings and became the basis for the article published in the journal. The article details the journey involved in creating personas for the development group and the way the lessons learned in the process were passed on to make the project a success. Personas are fictitious characters that represent various segments of the user population for a given product, which helps guide decisions made in developing the product.

“It’s a great honor for STC to accept Elizabeth’s article for its magazine,” said Dr. George Hayhoe, director of the MSTCO program. “The Society, which has 14,000 members worldwide, publishes only about 60 articles per year in its magazine, and almost none report research results. The fact that Elizabeth is familiarizing the Society audience with the concept of useful work place research is also very significant.”

In addition to the article, Filippo’s project entailed traditional audience analysis, as well as user experience research and theory, which she then had to adapt for use in a fast-paced development environment. Filippo was looking to provide her company with an organized, solid vision for its users, which she believes all functional groups could use when performing their work.

“By mining the collective knowledge of our staff and performing selective field research using multiple research methods, we were able to develop sound and in-depth personas that aided both our software development team and our technical communication group,” Filippo said.

Filippo, who earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is an information architect with RedPrairie Corp., where she has worked since November 2008. She did the work reported in the article for a previous employer.

“The MSTCO program and its professors have helped me to make great strides in this work, and in all facets of my career,” Fillipo said. “Learning how to find, interpret and adapt the research that is being performed in our field to my own tasks and career has been invaluable. It is a tool that I will always carry with me, and that will continue to help me grow with and contribute to the field of technical communication.”