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
La Tonya Borsay, M.F.A.: teaching artist, educational consultant, curriculum designer, actor. Certificate: Moscow Art Theater School
Adrian Cameron, B.F.A., M.F.A.: theater, performance, media artist
Julia Cavagna, Bachelor’s in Acting (EMAD, Buenos Aires): teacher, actor, director
Chris Clavelli: Associate Artistic Director (Florida Repertory Theatre), classics instructor (Actors Studio Drama School/Pace U), faculty (AMDA). AEA, AFTRA/SAG, SDC
Rachel Duval, Bachelor in Music/Music Education (University of Washington): public speaking coach, classical singer, consultant. Diploma in Coaching: School of Professional Studies
Jim Elliott, M.F.A. (UT-Austin): Resident Director and Acting Instructor (AMDA). Master Teacher: MIT, Taiwan Performing Arts Center
Deborah Latz, B.A. M.F.A. (Performance and Interactive Media Arts, Brooklyn College): vocalist, composer, band leader (Deborah Latz Group); co-founder Sonic Muses; vocal coach. Certificates: Somatic Voicework™, British American Drama Academy, ACT
Cara Michelle Miller, B.F.A.: communication coach, instructor/lecturer on meridian-based modalities, faculty (Pacific College of Oriental Medicine), teacher (Waldorf School).
Abigail Rabinowitz, B.A. (Brown), M.F.A. (Columbia): Associate Director for Writing in the Sciences and Engineering, Clinical Associate Professor in Expository Writing, NYU; science and technology journalist.
Jen Wineman, B.A. (Vassar), M.F.A. (Yale School of Drama): director, choreographer, artistic director