CONNECT is a sequence of workshops in communication issues and skills for undergraduate engineering students. It was co-developed by the program's directors, Richard Stock and John Osburn, an engineering professor and a performance specialist. Its genesis lay in the communication training provided to employees in the corporate world and in 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 workshops are designed to increase engineering students' awareness of the behavioral elements of communication while the regular curriculum continues to reinforce the importance of content and intellectual process.
The program was established in 1997 with the aid of a grant from the Department of Education's Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education and has received additional funding from the National Science Foundation. Program assessment showed significant positive effects upon workshop attendees, both in classroom presentations and in impressions made on corporate recruiters during campus visits.