Is taking a communications class necessary to excelling as an engineer in the work force?
There is something I tell students immediately before launching into a course on any engineering field. There is a trend with technology and with human projects in general, and that is that they are getting bigger and more complicated, not smaller and simpler. The reason is that people have always followed Parkinson's Law -- they will expend all their resources on a project, and if they have any left, the project itself will magically become bigger and more difficult . The end result is that the vast majority of projects will be done by teams, not individuals. Because of that, successful projects depend not only on engineers' ability to get stuff done individually, but projects depend more and more on engineers' ability to communicate -- not only clearly and efficiently, but with passion to compel others to buy into their ideas. You'll find that successful engineers tend to be successful communicators, and that few brilliant people can be anywhere near as successful or effective if they can't get others to help them amplify their effectiveness. So whatever you do, chances are that you will be more successful if you are a better communicator.
In contrast to the others in the answers, I would not recommend taking the oral communications class. Having known many a communication major, I do not feel their classes benefited their communication in any measurable way. Communication is also about having a strong technical base and a willingness to be forthcoming and truthful. I feel your time could be better served than taking this course. Idealistically it is helpful, but in practice I feel most classes like this are a bit of a crapshoot in terms of value.
Take the class. Communications skills are vital to a successful career and it should be an easy A!!
The short answer to your question is yes. To be effective, engineers (and everybody else) need to be able to communicate both one on one and to large groups. A course in public speaking and conversely, learning how to listen, will be time well spent. Public speaking has been very important in my career.
Hope this helps.
Take the class. Everything you can learn about communication will help. As an engineer, you need to explain your ideas to others. I studied political science for two years before engineering school and earned an MBA after my M.Eng. degrees. As the result of those studies my work is now accepted in courts as expert. I have been in private practice since 1988.
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The oral communications class will be very important for you no matter what career area that you enter. One of the most difficult problems that we employers are facing today is the difficulty of today's youth to communicate effectively, as they spend so much of their time communicating electronically that they lose or don't develop the ability to effectively communicate verbally. Taking the class will have many benefits throughout your education and career journey. It will be time and money well spent. Thanks for asking.