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Katherine Wikoff, Ph.D. - Milwaukee School of Engineering. Milwaukee, WI, US

Katherine Wikoff, Ph.D.

Professor | Milwaukee School of Engineering


Dr. Katherine Wikoff focuses her work on user experience, technical communication, humanities and literature.

Education, Licensure and Certification (3)

Ph.D.: English (Rhetoric), University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 1992

M.A.: English (Rhetoric), University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 1986

B.A.: Political Science, Wright State University 1981


Dr. Katherine Wikoff is a professor in the Humanities, Social Science and Communication Department at MSOE. She teaches a variety of humanities courses including Freshman Studies, Publishing Across Media, Project Communications, Film and Media Studies, and Mass Media, Culture and Society.
In addition to her teaching at MSOE, she consults and teaches technical communication courses on-site for industry professionals at companies like Harley-Davidson and Milwaukee Electric Tool. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in English from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee (1986, 1992) and her B.A. in political science from Wright State University.

Areas of Expertise (5)

User Experience

Technical Communication



Higher Education

Accomplishments (3)

Nominated for the Oscar Werwath Distinguished Teacher Award

2007, 2004

Nominated for Falk Engineering Educator Award - MSOE

2003, 2002

Marion Reilly Award for Teaching Excellence - University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee


Affiliations (3)

  • American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) : Member
  • Society for Technical Communication (STC) : Member
  • Association of Teachers of Technical Writing (ATTW) : Member

Event and Speaking Appearances (4)

Scaling Student Success: Best Practices for Developing Strong Practices in English and Math for ALL Students

WAICU workshop presentation, Cardinal Stritch University, Milwaukee, February 23, 2019  

Teaching Criterion 3(i): Lessons on Lifelong Learning from Creative Communities

ASEE National Conference & Exposition, June 20-23, 2010  

Trends in Technical Communication Education

Society for Technical Communication, Milwaukee, WI, February, 2005  

Defining and Creating the Lifelong Learner

ASEE North Mid-west Sectional Conference, October 16-18, 2008  

Selected Publications (5)

Building STEAM: Creating a Culture of Art in an Engineering Education

Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Wikoff, K.H., & Kieselburg, J.R., & Dwyer, M.T., & Marini, C.

July 2021 This paper discusses an ongoing, successful effort to create a culture of art at a STEM-centered university, not only within the engineering curriculum but also throughout campus life and its physical spaces. In a paper presented at the 2014 ASEE conference, we discussed how an art museum on campus worked with professors in engineering and humanities/communication disciplines to incorporate art into the engineering curriculum. In summer 2019 we conducted IRB-approved research into student engagement with public art surrounding our urban campus. A walking tour of the sculptures was followed by a focus group discussion in which student participants explored how art might intersect with their engineering course work and how art could be integrated on campus to further reinforce connections between engineering and aesthetics. Our paper for this year’s conference reports on progress made to date, summarizing our summer 2019 research findings together with the results of innovative learning strategies and art-related partnerships and developments across campus. A Qualtrics survey of faculty and academic staff conducted in 2020 rounds out the snapshot of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) at our institution. Art is already integrated into several areas of our curriculum. Our institution values an applications-oriented, community-interfacing, experiential approach to learning. A required first-year communication course features museum visits and tours of public art followed by a formal analysis paper. Students in mechanical engineering and construction management classes regularly visit the campus museum’s industry-related art galleries. In an upper-level creative thinking course, students recently contributed to a large-scale, high-profile public art project involving a massive piece of engineering infrastructure in our city.

Evolving Skill Sets and Job Pathways of Technical Communicators

Communication Design Quarterly Review

Shalamova, N., Rice-Bailey, T., Wikoff, K.

2018 Recent research in technical communication (TC) indicates that the field has become more varied than ever in terms of job titles, job skills, and levels of involvement in the design and production process. Here, we examine this diversity by detailing the results of a small-scale anonymous survey of individuals who are currently working as technical communicators (TCs). The purpose of our survey was to discover what job titles people who identify as TCs have held and the skills required of those positions. The study was conducted using the online survey platform Qualtrics. Survey results found that TCs occupy jobs and use skills that are often quite different from "traditional" TC careers. Results further support previous research that these roles and responsibilities continue to evolve. However, results also suggest that this evolution is more sweeping than previously realized---moving TCs away from not only the traditional technical writing role but also the "technical communicator" role as it has been understood for the past 20--25 years.

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How Study of Chocolate as a Material Can Be Used to Enhance Engineering Education

ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Barnicki, C. W., Wikoff, K. H., Nickel, A. M.

2016 Chocolate is a material that is typically not associated within an engineering curriculum. Yet when viewed as a material that has composition, structure, and properties, the topic can add interest and an alternative perspective to a traditional materials engineering or chemistry course. Additionally, chocolate as a technical topic in a humanities course can serve as a starting point for exploration of associated aesthetic, social, and cultural concepts. The structure of the cocoa butter in chocolate, which is polymorphic, is critical in achieving good chocolate—and only the β’ phase is desired. The recipes (processing) for chocolate can be related to nucleation and growth theory in a similar manner to solidification and heat treatment of metals; and also can be related to molecular issues in a chemistry class including solutions, colligative properties, polymeric materials and chemical reactions. The main ingredient in chocolate originates as an agricultural product from tropical regions where trade, labor and sustainability practices are widely variable.

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Integration of Art and Engineering: Creating Connections between Engineering Curricula and an Art Museum's Collection

ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Wickoff, K.H., Barnicki, C.W., Kieselburg, J.R.

2014 Integration of Art and Engineering: Creating Connections between Engineering Curricula and an Art Museum’s Collection ABSTRACTWithin STEM education, a movement called STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) has been gathering momentum over the past few years. At present, the published material in this area shows that most of the classroom practice and ongoing research seems to focus on K-12 learning environments—and much of that, even, primarily on preschool and kindergarten children.This paper reviews the literature on STEAM education at the university level and describes a unique relationship that has developed between one university’s engineering curricula and the collection of an art museum on its campus.The Museum and its collection have been utilized in a range of academic coursework. All engineering students are required to take a freshman humanities seminar which includes are search paper on the Museum collection. Some students have gone on to participate in theMuseum’s docent training program. The collection has proven useful in courses dealing wither gonomics studies, aesthetic interpretation, OSHA studies and manufacturing processes. A special exhibit of bridge photographs was used as the starting point for research papers by graduate students in civil engineering. Currently, the Museum Director is adjunct professor in the Technical Communication program, teaching a course that engages engineering students in visual design and interpretation and culminates in a Museum exhibition of the student design work created over the previous quarter.This paper also presents a case study in which a cohort of students engaged with the Museum’s collection during their freshman and junior years. In their freshman-level honors humanities seminar, students considered the concept of “The City” from a variety of perspectives (literary, philosophical, historical, and aesthetic). Art was a key component of this course. After learning basic art concepts and terminology, students spent multiple class sessions in the Museum analyzing the collection’s sculpture and paintings.

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Integrating Entrepreneurship and Innovation into an Engineering Curriculum through Service Learning and the Liberal Arts

ASEE National Conference and Exposition

Wikoff, K., Carriere, M.