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Many technical elective and graduate courses use a textbook as the sole source of information. While this is convenient and efficient for engineering fundamentals it prevents students from developing skill sets that enables young practitioners to interact with emerging research issues. A culminating paper assignment provides an excellent opportunity to strengthen both self-directed learning and technical communication skills. These paper overviews the scaffolding used to improve learning through the use of writing. Through the project, students gained confidence searching and interpreting the technical literature.