We Mourn the Passing of Austin T. Brown, Former STC and STC WDCB President

Headshot of Austin T. Brown
Austin T. Brown

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.

STC WDCB Joining Regional TechComm Competition

Logo for STC Regional TechComm Competition-Atlanta, Houston, New England, New York, Philadelphia, and Rochester
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!

The STC Regional TechComm Competition’s entry deadline is December 6, 2019, 6:00 PM EDT. While the link to enter the competition will eventually be on the DC chapter’s competition site and the New York Metro chapter’s site, I encourage you to sign up to receive email updates as they arise.

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.

It’s Called Technical Communication for a Reason (Webinar)

ABOUT THE WEBINAR

You are at the point where creating structured content is second nature. You can design a crisp clean UI and conduct textbook usability sessions without breaking a sweat. You can even design a chatbot so users never know they are not typing with a human. Are those skills and that knowledge enough to get you to the next level in your career? Is how to create technical communication more important than why? Is our pursuit of perfectly authored content hurting our audience?

We are technical communicators for a reason, and it is time for us to regain our focus on the technology we support.

In this session, we will discuss the importance of technical knowledge, find out how to gain technical knowledge and skills without going back to school, and learn tip.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR

Rhyne Armstrong has been a producer, strategist, and manager in the content world for the last 25 years, and hopes to some day figure out what he wants to do when he grows up. He is a Documentation Manager at Cisco Systems, Inc. in the Security Business Unit, and is an Associate Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication.

Rhyne lives in Atlanta, and works hard to juggle his day job with his other roles: haunted house designer, stage manager, and soccer/ballet dad.

Photo of Rhyne Armstrong

WEBINAR ACCESS INFORMATION

This webinar will be offered through JoinMe and will be recorded. You can attend either through the free JoinMe app on your mobile device or in a browser (all browsers supported but Chrome works best). You will receive connection information through email two days before the webinar. If you do not receive it, contact us at email hidden; JavaScript is required.