nConnect was founded in 2005 after Scott Keeney, CEO of nLIGHT, a leading manufacturer of semiconductor lasers read "Rising above the Gathering Storm". The citations from "Trends in International Math and Science Study" (TIMSS) particularly piqued his interest. These data clearly documented what he had anecdotally observed among his colleagues and staff, that those who had been educated abroad had faced much more rigorous coursework than the typical US high school student. These data were distressing, but they also offered great hope. While average US students were at the bottom of international comparisons, students who passed Advanced Placement® (AP) tests were at the top of the list.
Based on this data, nConnect was founded in 2005 with the simple and pragmatic idea to provide mentors to encourage and support students taking rigorous courses such as Advanced Placement Courses. By pairing engineers, scientists, and other professionals from the high tech sector with small groups of students taking AP classes, nConnect supports students taking rigorous AP classes with a mentor who provides both an important relationship and who brings greater relevance to coursework.
In 2005, with limited funding and volunteers from nLIGHT, Educational Service District 112, and Southwest Washington Workforce Development Council, nConnect (previously known as MAPS) ran a pilot program. With seven engineers and physicists from nLIGHT, the pilot year focused solely on AP® Physics and served twenty-two students from six high schools.