I've begun my second quarter of graduate school at the UW's Department of Technical Communication. I always feel compelled to add that, A) I'm here to learn about user interface design and not technical writing, and that B) TC is in the College of Engineering. I generally think of technical writing as a useful skill, but as a means rather than an end. I think of writing user manuals. But, that's not what TC is about, and I hope to God I don't end up writing user manuals. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Someone needs to do it, and it takes real talent to do it right. I just don't want to document someone else's work. I want to be closer to the front end of the development process. My focus is international user interface design, and when I graduate, I hope to work as an international software program manager.
It's important to me that TC is part of the College of Engineering. Somehow this lends legitimacy to the field. I never realized that at many universities, TC is attached to English departments. Not that there's anything wrong with that. English is good, some of my best friends read and write English. Many good people do. However, if I were to have gone the Arts and Sciences route, I would have pursued either something more esoteric, like comparative religion, or something more tangible, like history.
I dare say that I like TC, or at least the UW's TC department. My classmates come from many different disciplines (nobody else from relgion, though, imagine that). The interdisciplinary nature of TC is precisely what interests me about the subject. The following are all important components of TC: communications, engineering, usability engineering, English, graphic design, information science, information systems, sociology, education, psychology, linguistics, philosophy (esp. epistemology and the philosophy of science),computer science, and the natural sciences. I'm a little surprised that there are relatively few software developers in the program. There are several of us, especially of the web developer variety, and certainly more developers than you'd find in say, Germanics. Still, considering TC's value for crafting user interfaces, I would expect that there would be more software developers in the program.
I'd include a link to the UW's TC site, but sadly, it's something of an embarrassment. High school kids exhibit better design prinicples. The plumber's faucet leaks, I suppose.