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The new face of engineering

Engineers may not recognize the DukEngineer Magazine when it comes out this December. One of the main avenues of communication for the Duke engineering community, the publication is shifting its format to feature a greater scope of content as well as a redesigned cover and layout.

The student-run magazine, now in its 60th year, is published in December and May and reaches more than 11,000 readers. The magazines are sent out to engineering alumni and parents, and are distributed to undergraduate students and faculty at the Pratt School of Engineering.

The magazine, around 60 pages long, includes faculty research articles and occasional student research stories, supplemented by figures and graphs, as well as human interest profiles of professors.

"We try and reach all areas of the [engineering] department," said Pratt junior Aruna Venkatesan, co-senior editor of the magazine. "Traditionally the magazine has been research oriented. We're trying to keep that aspect but make it more readable."

Venkatesan and her co-editor, Pratt senior Annie Adams, want to expand the magazine's mission statement. Currently, its stated goal is to increase the awareness of what is going on in the School of Engineering, including faculty and student research.

"We're trying to gear it more towards student experience," Venkatesan said. "What's unique about our publication is that most engineering schools don't have a magazine."

Adams said she wants to reach out to a greater audience with the magazine. "We want each issue to be something that is of interest to the experienced, practicing Duke engineering alumni, the young, freshman undergraduate Duke engineer, and even the non-engineer," Adams said.

The addition of more feature articles, such as stories about women in engineering or the robotics club, will increase the magazine's scope. The December issue will feature the Civil Engineering Conference, describing the concrete canoe competitions from this past spring.

Venkatesan noted that the magazine is moving away from resembling an annual report in hopes of pertaining more to Trinity College students. "A lot of the stuff going on in the engineering school is interesting to Arts and Sciences," Adams said.

The most noticeable difference will be the new cover design of the magazine. Venkatesan said editors have used the same format for 15 years, but that this year she and Adams are redesigning the magazine and adding full color, all of which should be in place for the December issue.

Advertisements and the engineering school fund the magazine, and Claire Cusick, newly appointed associate communications director in Pratt, advises the publication.

"[Cusick] has really brought a new level of involvement, advice-giving and support, that has been very helpful," Adams said.

Cusick and other Pratt officials have been offering guidance to the DukEngineer since this past summer. Based on their advice, the co-editors are contemplating a new format for the publication--a larger print version in December with an online-only edition in the spring.

Venkatesan began working on DukEngineer Magazine as a freshman.

"I was really interested in the research of engineering, and I thought it'd be hard to meet the faculty and learn about their research," she said, "so this is a great way to meet and interview them. I also did it because it's not too easy with the engineering curriculum to write and work on communication. Engineering is not meaningful if you can't communicate."

Adams agreed with Venkatesan about the magazine's application. "Writing research articles on work being done in your major early on really gives you an inside look on the fascinating research being done at Duke," she said.

Another major change in the works is the online archiving of all its back issues. Patrick Chan, a Trinity junior, maintains the magazine's website and is in charge of designing, uploading and scanning back issues.

Jonathan Shih, a Pratt senior, said he thought the magazine was very unique and informative for engineers. "I like the fact that they highlight a lot of research they're doing so I can see what my peers are up to," he said.

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