Vancouver-area Tech Comm Café: March 13 recap; next meeting April 17

We met on the day that countries started grounding the Boeing 737 Max 8 planes. Pilots voiced their concerns, stating: “the flight manual was inadequate, and we are flying without sufficient training, amongst other issues.”

This unfortunate tragedy was the basis of our first discussion. We questioned, as technical writers do:

  • Who wrote the flight manual? and
  • Was the documentation a word-for-word translation from one language to another, or a translation to convey the common spoken word of the audience?

What a great conversation to empower the value of the technical writer, and to support the two newcomers, who attended the meeting to increase their understanding of technical communication as they considered a possible career change.

Going around the table, we learned that we represented the mining, insurance, horticulture, accounting, wholesale food services, and communications industries. Several of us dug up our credentials in response to the newcomers who asked, “What are the differences between the local technical writing programs, and which do you think are best?”

Our answers may have been a little biased (or, gave a good cross-section of opinions), for we represented recent graduates (okay, one was almost there) and experienced alumni from one school and a former instructor from another.

In the group’s defence, we did suggest that the newcomers attend the information sessions offered by the schools and consider their preferences for online versus face-to-face classes and full-time versus part-time.

This raised a question about the value of the Society for Technical Communication’s (STC) Certified Professional Technical Communicator program. We discussed the pros and cons of supporting or not supporting the current program requirements, costs, and content.

Two volunteers from the STC Canada West Coast (CWC) chapter announced that the chapter is celebrating its 40th anniversary. At this time, CWC is also looking for volunteers for the board of directors, coordinator positions, and writers for the chapter’s website. Contact for more information.

Our evening’s discussion concluded with the recommendation for all of us to attend at least one STC conference. One person shared his experience as a conference attendee: “The networking and new ideas are great. These conferences are intense, but worth attending.” 

It was a nice evening, the food was good (including the green-tea ice cream pictured), and it was great to refuel my technical writer’s need to be immersed with like minds. Thank you to everyone who attended, and to STC CWC for organizing the meet-up.


The Tech Comm Café provides networking opportunities, job leads, answers to work-related dilemmas, and a burst of professional energy to keep you motivated. We discuss technical writing tools and techniques, career planning, portfolios, and anything else related to working as a technical communicator.

We welcome anyone who’s interested in technical communication — contractor, in-house, student, long-time tech writer, STC member, non-member, career-changer, or recruiter. We hope to see you at the next meeting!


Next Meetings

  • Vancouver-area Tech Comm Café: April 17. Details below.
  • Victoria Tech Comm Café: Date and location TBD.
  • Subscribe to receive email announcements of future meetings.


Next Vancouver-area Tech Comm Café: Wednesday, April 17

If you plan to attend, please RSVP by 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 16.

Date: Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Time: 6:30–8:00 pm Pacific Time

Location: Green Basil Thai Restaurant, 4623 Kingsway (near Metrotown), Burnaby, BC. Check their website for menu and pricing.

Green Basil is across the street from the northwest corner of Metrotown, on the north side of Kingsway, east of McKay Ave. Metrotown Skytrain station; free or metered parking on nearby streets.


  1. Introductions. Take 60 seconds to introduce yourself, your background, current activities. A good chance to try out that new elevator speech.
  2. Announcements and job leads. If you know of an interesting event or a job opening, or you’re looking for work, share it with the group.
  3. Brainstorming Q&A. Ask about a work-related problem and discuss potential solutions.
  4. Speed networking. Spend a few minutes with a new contact, exchange business cards, and discuss your professional backgrounds and goals.