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TECHNICAL WRITING COURSE:
This project asks each student to write a biography of one Marshall Space Flight Center engineer from the NASA/MSFC Retirees Association Memorial Database:
This database collects the names of thousands of people who contributed to the space program at Marshall Space Flight Center. You will pick one person in the database (or someone you could suggest adding to the database) and write a short biography (approximately 300-600 words) about that person.
Choosing a Biography Subject
One challenge of the assignment is to choose a biography subject that you can find enough information on to write about. This task is made more challenging by the fact that you can only search the Retirees Association Memorial Database (in other words, you already have to know what you’re looking for). The good news is that the database contains about several thousand people, so you should be able to find someone you can write about.
You can use several approaches to find a biography subject for this project:
You can search popular names in the database (John, Joseph, etc.) to see if you can find a subject to research.
You can look for obituaries or other resources about people who worked at Marshall Space Flight Center (For instance, I did a Google search of obituary Marshall Space Flight Center and turned up Otis Clyde AndersonLinks to an external site., who was also in the database).
You can choose to write a biography of someone you knew or your family and friends know who worked at Marshall (living or dead).
Remember too that you can suggest people to add to the database, so if you know or find information about someone who would make a good subject to add to the memorial database, you can write about them and suggest adding them to the database.
Researching Your Subject
You can use obituaries, newspaper articles, archives, interviews, scientific papers, NASA resources, ancestry websites, and other resources to find information on your biography subject.
Writing Your Biography
Your biography should capture the subject as fully as possible, especially their contribution to the space program and their work at Marshall. Include as many relevant details as you can. Try to capture the subject’s personality and accomplishments to the best of your ability. Make sure your biography is well organized (it will probably follow a chronological structure). Please write clearly, concisely, and correctly. Be careful not to plagiarize your sources as you write (this can prove challenging when you only have limited sources and facts to work from). When possible, please include sources at the end of your biography.
Refer to these Sample Biographies (
) to get a sense of how you should write your biography.