Austin Thomas Brown, past STC WDCB Chapter President (1981-1982), Director-Sponsor of STC’s Region 2 (1982-1986), STC President (1988-1989), and STC Fellow, passed away peacefully on March 21, 2019 at the age of 86.
In the 1990s, our chapter renamed its high school science writing contest to honor Austin, who had managed the contest for many years. The contest was first started in 1964 and provided an award and scholarship money to the top three winners of a competition open only to high school students in the Washington, DC area for the best technical papers. Austin joined STC in 1967 and took a special interest in the competition. We now call it Austin T. Brown Technical Communication Award, though is currently without a manager. We hope a new volunteer who is interested in managing a student competition will step up in the future. In lieu of this, the chapter began giving awards in 2009 for the best student entry in our Technical Communication Competition.
Not only did Austin provide exceptional leadership to STC and the Washington, DC-Baltimore chapter (then just the Washington, DC chapter) over many years, but his family named our chapter as the suggested recipient of financial donations in lieu of flowers in his obituary. Please read the obituary in his funeral program to learn about Austin’s illustrious career and fascinating life, and see several photos of him and his wonderful family.
We mourn the passing of Austin T. Brown and are thankful for his many contributions to our chapter and to the profession of technical communication.
Starting this fall, our chapter is joining forces with several other STC chapters to deliver our annual technical communication competition, which we have been running consistently since 1962. Since 2012, when the New York Metro chapter joined with the Philadelphia chapter to create the STC Regional TechComm Competition, other chapters have joined their federation. We now join the Atlanta, Houston, New England, New York Metro, Philadelphia, and Rochester chapters, making our title of “regional” a fairly loose definition.
STC discontinued the International Summit Awards (ISA) after the 2016-2017 competition cycle. Until that year, local chapters submitted their highest award winners to the ISA for another round of judging. Winners of that award were proudly displayed at the STC Summit conference for all to see. Since the discontinuation of the ISA, chapters such as DC’s ended their competition cycles without offering that additional matriculation option. Despite this disheartening change, our volunteers continued to work countless hours to pull off the organized and fair competition our chapter is known for throughout the world.
The new regional approach allows the DC-Baltimore chapter to benefit from the online forms and mature processes that the regional competition team, under the leadership of the New York Metro chapter, have created to run the competition. We benefit from shared volunteer labor and ideas. Although we expect and encourage our local judges to apply to judge in the regional competition, given the larger numbers of entries and judges in the new federation, our entrants will likely be exposed to evaluations from new judges. We expect the larger judging pool will provide a fresh perspective to our entrants while still maintaining the same standards STC has always held. Besides this possible change to evaluations, we expect that that entrants will notice the change to the entry process, with a simple, online form. Judges will notice a more streamlined approach to receiving entries. Here in the DC area we will still hold a competition awards celebration in the spring to celebrate our local winners like we always have. It all seems like a win-win proposition to me and I hope you agree!
An exciting event is coming up on OCTOBER 15, 6-8 PM EDT to inspire you to enter the competition called the Virtual TechComm Roadshow. This online event is FREE but you must register to get the web conferencing information. During this event, some top winners from STC competitions around the country, including DC-Baltimore, will show their work, discuss their backstory, challenges, learning, and planned improvements. We hope you will attend!
We hope you are excited as we are to join such a distinguished group of chapters, along with their passionate volunteers, to produce our competition going forward. STC chapters are no longer in competition with one another for the most entrants or even the most members. Everyone wins when we unite our efforts to promote the advancement of our profession of technical communication.
Entries are arriving for the Washington, DC – Baltimore (WDCB) chapter's 2018-2019 Technical Communication Competition. Would you like to see them? Are you ready to help evaluate them? If you think you may be, here's a brief summary of what's in store.
The Call for Entries in our technical communication competition was announced on 10 September. More announcements about the competition will appear in websites, blogs, tweets, and lists. The competition is coming together but we can not hold it successfully without the commitment of a group of qualified and enthusiastic judges. We recruit judges from among professional communicators in the Washington, DC and Baltimore metropolitan areas, and beyond. Membership in STC is not a requirement.
The deadline for entries is 10 November 2018. Between 11 November and 26 November, entries are logged and team judging assignments are made for each competition category. on 27 November, the entries are sorted into packages for each team for the Entries Pick-Up and Judges' Training meeting.
On Saturday, 1 December, the judges assemble to receive their judging materials, entries, and instructions. They meet the other members of their judging team, get training from experienced judges on how to evaluate an entry, and have their questions answered.
Judging Teams and Consensus Judging
Over the next six weeks, judges read and examine their assigned entries. They discover—or rediscover—the joy of encountering excellence in published manuals, reports, training materials, journals, brochures, marketing and PR materials, magazines, help systems, websites, user support materials, and more. As they begin to form opinions and record their evaluations in the judging forms, the judges apply all the knowledge and experience at their disposal. They prepare their comments for the entrants and a defense of their decisions for the consensus meeting.
On Saturday, 12 January 2019, the judges meet for consensus to discuss the entries and decide which ones deserve an award based on specified criteria. Entries are not judged against each other. Some entries stand out as award winners; others elicit debate. The judges relish the opportunity to compare notes on design, presentation of information, layout, and overall quality of an entry. You will review how each judge evaluated an entry in their team's categories and concur on the award to be given to each entry. After discussing an entry with the other judges on your team, you may decide to change your evaluation scores or comments to come to a consensus for the award your team will give an entry. After each award is determined, the judging team will select one or two from your team's entries to nominate for Best of Show. The Best of Show judging team then assesses the nominees and selects the Best of Show and the Best Student Entry. Veteran and new judges leave the Consensus Meeting with a sense of a job well done. They have judged the work of their peers and shared their passion for excellence in communication. Many are eager to do it all over again in future years.