Blog

Sandbox Stories: Marisa Cameron

Cameron Marisa

Marisa Cameron was earning a mathematics degree at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, where the AbbVie pharmaceutical company has a major office, when she was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2014. “In the hospital, I was so touched by the whole health care industry and had never seen the whole side of it, whether it was the doctors and nurses in the hospital. It was a terrible experience but really eye-opening. I knew I wanted to go into health care.”…

Lunch & Learn: Randy Glein

Randy Glein sees innovation as the “flag bearer of progress, providing the ability to transform markets, economies, and ultimately, lives.”

Rare Disease Research Symposium: ESTEEM Students Reflect

Zupan Madeline

Kenney Jack

This past weekend, the University of Notre Dame - in conjunction with the Boler-Parseghian Center for Rare and Neglected Diseases - hosted its annual Rare Disease Conference. This was a two-day event covering both laboratory science and benchtop research discoveries in addition to patient outreach and rare disease community-building. The unique opportunity to mix cutting edge research alongside first-hand experience from rare disease patients and their family was an incredible experience for the students, faculty, and members of the Notre Dame community.

Sandbox Stories: Shawn Cook

Cook Shawn

When Shawn Cook’s Army assignment officer announced that he was selected to go to graduate school again, Cook, who had already earned a master’s in geological engineering, started thinking about what could serve the country as well as position him for life after his 20-year military career. He chose ESTEEM.…

Lunch & Learn: Celeste Ford

Celeste Ford

Recently the ESTEEM Program was privileged to hear the stories, lessons, and serendipities of an extraordinary entrepreneur: Mrs. Celeste Ford, Founder and CEO of the global systems engineering and project management firm Stellar Solutions, Inc. With insightful anecdotes about her professional journey and honest appraisals of her own industry, Celeste provided a unique perspective into the process of starting a company, her values as a CEO, and her goals for the business she’s built from scratch.…

Lunch & Learn: Dennis Boyle

Dennis Boyle

February started off with a Lunch and Learn with Dennis Boyle a Notre Dame alum and founding partner of design firm IDEO. Dennis spoke about his journey to date and the role of empathy in his work life. As part of the ESTEEM program, we all have become familiar with the importance of design thinking in solving business problems and how crucial it is to put the customer center stage. Dennis reiterated this point again and gave us some tips on how as STEM entrepreneurs we can act and think like designers.

My Week in ESTEEM: Startup Weekend 2017

Dsc 0922

Let me begin by explaining Startup Weekend. This is an event in which developers, business gurus, startup enthusiasts, designers and more come together to pitch startup ideas, form teams around those ideas, and then work together to develop a working prototype, business model, and presentation. However, as the name implies, this is all to be completed in 52 hours. Yup. From Friday night to early afternoon on Sunday, we work to come as close as we can to launching a viable business.…

Sandbox Stories: Brendan Hughes

Hughes Brendan

Brendan Hughes came to ESTEEM with an undergraduate major in biology, a minor in entrepreneurship, and a side identity as DJ Lumba based on his flannel shirt, bushy beard, and long hair when he bought a beginner DJ board on a whim as a Stonehill College freshman. His gigs have grown from school parties to the Boston bar scene to weddings and other social events, and he’s upgraded to a four-deck NS7III system. He performed at an ESTEEM tailgate last fall under a huge banner with his logo.…

After ESTEEM: Chris Freise

Photo of ESTEEM Alum Chris Freise

Chris Freise, who graduated with the third ESTEEM class in 2012, kept a copy of his thesis business plan for reference when he got an idea for his own company two years later – a fitness app to solve his own problem of inconsistent access to a gym and an unhealthy reliance on fast food. He learned to pivot from his original plan through real-world experience that has propelled his company, Updown Fitness, to better alignment with market needs.…

My Week in ESTEEM: January 23-27

My week in ESTEEM began with a typical Monday, a long run in the morning in preparation for the Notre Dame Holy Half Marathon, thesis and school work in the afternoon, and classes in the evening. I could not believe it had already been a week since Zach arrived at my doorstep on Long Island after a long flight from Ireland, where we ended our winter breaks, before heading back to school. Our first class was sales and sales management, taught by Chris Stevens, the founder of Keurig and an individual with great impersonations. Not only does he teach us about the fundamentals of sales (as an occupation), but also his words go far beyond that, as he reveals the importance of values such as family, country, honesty, and integrity. …

Notre Dame students win second place in Disney Imagineering design competition

An interdisciplinary team of four Notre Dame students -- including current ESTEEM student Madeline Zupan -- won second place Friday (January 27) in the Walt Disney Imagineering Imaginations Design Competition.

Group 1

The competition, which aims to seek out and nurture the next generation of Disney Imagineers, challenged teams to apply the same design principles used in creating Disney’s famous theme parks and resorts in order to envision new outdoor spaces within their own universities that address the needs of students, faculty, and visitors, while providing a respite from the stresses of everyday life.…

Sandbox Stories: David Laston


“It seemed like the perfect mesh,” says Laston, who joined this year’s class after about 18 months at Cummins, where he started as a lab tech and moved to research and development. “Entrepreneurship was definitely something I’d thought about – later in my life I’d like to own my own business or manage a business or startup. When I came here I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do. I knew it would open up a lot of career options.”David Laston, who earned a degree in chemistry from Franklin College and went to work for the giant engine manufacturer Cummins Inc. in Columbus, Ind., always knew he wanted to go back to school. When he heard about ESTEEM, he knew where to go.…

Thesis Spotlight: Horizon Pharma

Zupan Madeline

An orphan disease - also called a rare disease – is defined as any condition that affects less than 200,000 people in America. There are over 7,000 distinct orphan diseases today, affecting one in every ten Americans. Because these conditions are so variable and may only affect a few hundred people, diagnosis and treatment is complicated. Specialist physicians are scarce and therapies are even fewer in number. In fact, for 95% of the people with an orphan disease, there is no FDA-approved medication, treatment, or cure. Madeline hopes to change this.…

After ESTEEM: Kris Priemer

ESTEEM Alumni Kris Primier

South Bend native Kristopher Priemer had no formal entrepreneurship experience when he participated in Entrepreneur Magazine’s College Entrepreneur of the Year, where he was one of five finalists, as a senior at Saint Louis University. He stayed in St. Louis for a year after he earned his mathematics degree, working in financial services, until he heard of ESTEEM and came home to join the program in 2010. Now Priemer has a wealth of entrepreneurship experience – from “fail early, fail often” to a promising platform for connecting bands with campus organizations looking for performers. He’s also had a significant impact on his hometown as a consultant for the city’s efforts to advance its technology sophistication.…

Sandbox Stories: Chris Stepien

Stepien Chris

Chris Stepien came to ESTEEM with a bachelor’s degree in chemical and biomolecular engineering from Notre Dame, a new-found interest in consulting, and no preparation for the big-league hiring process in that field. The program equipped him with resume-writing, networking, and interviewing skills, along with a supportive cohort of classmates, that have already paid off: Stepien is the first ESTEEM student who has landed a job with the world-class Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a management consulting firm that advises more than two-third of the Fortune 500 and ranks near the top of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For.…

Thesis Spotlight: EmNet

Foo Ken

EmNet "was formed in 2004 in partnership with the City of South Bend (Indiana) and the University of Notre Dame, for the specific purpose of solving South Bend’s combined sewer overflow problem using advanced control systems theory and civil engineering." The result of this effort was that the combined sewer overflow in the City was reduced by 70%. Additionally, this project cost about a 1/10th of the $100 million it would have cost using traditional engineering methods. Says South Bend's Mayor Pete, “We have the smartest sewers in the world!”…

After ESTEEM: Bianca Fox

Bianca Fox was expecting to go to medical school when she majored in Science-Business as a Notre Dame undergraduate, but by graduation she was seeking other avenues for a science and health care career.

After ESTEEM: Feranmi Okanlami

Feranmi Okanlami, who grew up in South Bend, graduated from Stanford University, and earned an M.D. at the University of Michigan, suffered a paralyzing spinal cord injury from a diving accident while he was an orthopaedic surgery resident at Yale-New Haven Hospital. After inpatient therapy in Chicago, he returned home for outpatient therapy and joined ESTEEM in 2014. His capstone thesis, in partnership with the Cleveland Clinic and Custom Orthopaedic Solutions, involved a patient-specific medical device intended to make pedicle screw placement in spinal surgeries faster and more accurate – equipment that could have enhanced his own surgeries.…

Meet Our Neighbors: Elevate Ventures

(This post was originally published in 2015.)

Our Entrepreneurship Master's Program is housed in Notre Dame's Innovation Park, a commercial accelerator that houses startups taking research and innovation towards commercialization.  As such, Elevate Ventures, a private, non-profit VC firm is literally down the hall from (i.e. "neighbors") with ESTEEM's main offices.