Professional Development Groups

The School of Engineering has established the Aba and Leja Lefkowitz Center for Professional Development to strengthen the non-technical attributes expected of its engineering undergraduates. Two interrelated programs, Professional Development Workshops and Seminars (ESC000) and CONNECT, provide a range of training and experiences in career and academic development.

Professional Development Workshops and Seminars

Students are automatically enrolled in Professional Development Workshops and Seminars (ESC000) during their freshman and sophomore years. It is a Pass/No Grade course based on attendance and participation. Workshops, seminars, and other activities address communication, career development, the engineering profession, academic and professional skills, and campus life. Topics include resumes, jobs and internships, ethics, professional licensing, and communication skills. Workshop and seminar providers and presenters include members of CONNECT, Center for Career Development, Center for Writing, faculty, alumni, and student organizations.


CONNECT is a program of workshops and seminars in communication issues and skills for undergraduate engineering students. Developed by an engineering professor, Richard Stock, and a performance specialist, John Osburn, its genesis lay in the communication training provided to employees in the corporate world and the study of performance techniques that are part of theatrical training.

Traditionally, engineering emphasizes the mastery of content (accuracy, knowledge, grasp of detail) and intellectual process (scientific method, theory, analysis). Performance emphasizes human behavior in specific situations (vocal, physical, social, professional). CONNECT increases awareness of the behavioral elements of communication while the regular curriculum reinforces the importance of content and intellectual process.

Core workshops are Individual Communication Skills, Vocal Expression, Physical Expression, Group Expression, Expression of Content, and Written Expression. Other topics include memo writing, speaking on short notice, non-verbal skills, visual presentation, workplace communication, and projecting confidence. Facilitators are drawn from the performing arts, corporate training, and academia.

The program was established in 1997 with a grant from the Department of Education and received funding from the National Science Foundation. Program assessment showed significant positive effects in classroom presentation and the impression made on corporate recruiters.

CONNECT Facilitation Team

John Osburn, Ph.D.: CONNECT Program Associate Director.

Margaret Araneo, Ph.D. (CUNY Graduate Center), M.F.A. (Carnegie Mellon): Director, MA Program in Theater History & Criticism (Brooklyn College), Co-Artistic Director (Citizen Arts & Education), theater artist.

Nadia Banna, M. AmSAT: Alexander Technique instructor, musician, music teacher, language instructor.

La Tonya Borsay, M.F.A.: teaching artist, educational consultant, curriculum designer, actor. Certificate: Moscow Art Theater School.

Chris Clavelli: Associate Artistic Director (Florida Repertory Theatre), classics instructor (Actors Studio Drama School/Pace U), faculty (AMDA). AEA, AFTRA/SAG, SDC.

Jim Elliott, M.F.A. (UT-Austin): Resident Director and Acting Instructor (AMDA). Master Teacher: MIT, Taiwan Performing Arts Center.

Lee Fitzpatrick, M.F.A.: actor, business and legal technology trainer, instructional video designer.

Ellen Goldman, C.M.A.: movement analyst, author, consultant, teacher (Laban-Bartinieff Institute of Movement Studies).

Susan Jonas, D.F.A. (Yale School of Drama): dramaturg, playwright, producer, critic, arts journalist, scholar.

Sascha Just, Ph.D.: theater artist, filmmaker; communication instructor.

Elizabeth Kemler, MS.Ed.: educator, curriculum designer, singer/songwriter.

Deborah Latz, B.A. (CUNY): vocalist/composer/band leader (Deborah Latz Group), co-founder of Sonic Muses, curator (VoxEcstatic Series, Cornelia Street Underground). Certificates: Somatic Voicework™, British American Drama Academy, ACT.

John Lundberg, M.F.A. (U of Virginia): Associate Director of the Center for Writing, Engineering Writing Fellow (Cooper Union), poet and technical writer. Wallace Stegner Fellow: Stanford.

Donna L. Maltzan, M.B.A.: business development and communications trainer/coach in engineering and architectural firms.

Cara Michelle Miller, B.F.A.: communication coach, instructor/lecturer on meridian-based modalities, faculty (Pacific College of Oriental Medicine).

Laura Real: tango dancer, teacher, consultant.

Colm Schlosser, B.A.: Body Movement Analyst, partner in Action Consulting.

Sarah Wollschlager, B.F.A.: aerialist, dancer, choreographer. Special studies: L'Università degli Studi di Urbino, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.