A Pennsylvania native and 2013 Juniata College graduate, Nate Higgins chose the ESTEEM program as the perfect intersection of his engineering physics degree and his business interest from internships that involved product launches. During his time as an ESTEEM student, Higgins started South Bend Student Housing, LLC, along with five other classmates. The company hosts a website which helps students from Notre Dame find potential off campus housing opportunities. The website's unique design and layout was created through interviewing students, landlords, and university officials to find out what they were looking for in a housing website.
In addition to his work with South Bend Student Housing, Higgins wrote a capstone thesis along with Matt Leevy, Ph.D., to design a more effective way to anesthetize small animals using 3D printing. The project led to the formation of InVivo Concepts, a startup which collaborates with Springboard Engineering Solutions, LLC – based out of Innovation Park – and Patterson Scientific, a long-established anesthesia equipment company. InVivo won the 1st Source Bank Commercialization Award in 2014.
Following graduation from ESTEEM and after receiving three official job offers and interviewing for a fourth, Higgins elected to work as a Process Engineer for Alpha Sintered Metals, LLC in Ridgway, PA. His duties there include overseeing automation projects, new product launches, continuous improvement projects, and other "top secret stuff." Higgins still does some work with his ESTEEM projects, especially InVivo Concepts, which has just submitted a patent. He is also still involved with South Bend Student Housing, growing it through increasing the number of housing listings and drawing a user base from the student body.
When asked how ESTEEM helped him reach his goals, Higgins said "[ESTEEM] helped me gain business sense while continuing to develop my engineering background. Part of my role at Alpha Sintered Metals is in researching and developing new sources of business. We are very early, and primarily in the research phase of these projects, but I have already found myself using skills that I developed during the ESTEEM program.”
“My goal before entering the ESTEEM program was to either start my own company or enter into a start-up. I did not do either of these after graduation, but instead I am heavily involved with intrapreurship, where we are attempting to innovate within the company and find sources for potential rapid growth. For this reason it is often like working in a startup where there are times it is very fast paced and we are learning a lot on the fly."