Student Writers: Jennifer Wolf and Sarah Baca
The Future Technical Communicators (FTC) is a Registered Student Organization (RSO) at the University of Central Florida. This organization is primarily intended for students who are interested in pursuing careers in the technical communication field, although membership is open to students from all majors. FTC works closely with the Orlando chapter of the Society for Technical Communication, a professional organization intended for those working in the field of technical communication.
The Current FTC & STC Orlando Chapter Model
As an RSO at UCF, FTC is not a student chapter of STC. It is an independent organization that is affiliated with both UCF and STC. As will be shown below, FTC’s role as an independent organization affiliated with UCF does not minimize its involvement or relationship with the Orlando Chapter of STC. In fact, this role as a separate organization is valuable to STC, as FTC can offer meeting space at UCF free of charge because of its relationship with the university. FTC can also offer funding for workshops and speakers through its access to college funds.
The History of FTC
In 2000, two students founded FTC at UCF. Erica Olmsted, a graduate student, and Bob Whitley, an undergraduate, recognized the need for an organization that could help technical communication students develop professionally. They approached Dr. JD Applen, a professor in the English department, who agreed to serve as the faculty sponsor. The original purpose of FTC was to connect students to professionals in the technical communication field and to provide weekend workshops where students helped one another learn the software and skills that were not covered in their courses. The founders wanted to create an on-campus community of students interested in technical communication. Membership in FTC was not limited to technical communication majors; some members were from other majors, such as Computer Science.
The Governance of FTC
UCF requires each RSO to operate under the supervision of a designated faculty advisor. The advisor provides guidance when necessary and serves as a liaison between FTC and the university. The advisor also clarifies university policies and procedures. Since the advisor typically remains in place from year to year, the advisor creates continuity as graduating students are replaced by new members each year. Although the advisor is an authoritative source for clarification of university policies and procedures, he or she does not make decisions on behalf of FTC. The advisor’s input is always considered, but FTC is primarily self-governing. As an RSO, FTC is subject to the rules and regulations of UCF, and its members are held accountable for their behavior. Ultimately, though, the responsibility for the success of the organization rests with its officers and members. This high degree of autonomy empowers students to act in the best interest of the organization as it strives to fulfill its purposes to serve its members, STC, UCF, and the local community.
FTC Funding & Budget
As a Registered Student Organization, FTC receives funding from the UCF Student Government Association (SGA). This funding can be used for workshops and events, promotional materials, and travel expenses related to attendance of the STC International Summit. Over the last several years of FTC’s existence, SGA has paid approximately $20,000 to allow students to attend conference.
FTC Offership & Responsibilities
There are five officer positions in FTC. The President oversees all operations, plans workshops and events, and serves as FTC’s liaison to STC and the University. The President also manages the organizations finances and creates a budget each semester. The Vice President assists the President wherever needed and serves in the absence of any other officers. The Treasurer accounts for all financial transactions, assists the President in the creation of a budget each semester and collects membership dues. The Secretary takes minutes at each meeting, maintains meeting attendance records, and notifies members of upcoming meetings and events. Finally, The Historian maintains a list of members and their contact information and documents FTC’s activities. The role of Historian has recently been expanded to include maintenance of FTC’s website, which serves as the primary source for the organization’s record-keeping.