Thesis Spotlight

Thesis Spotlight: Structured Immunity

Hardwicke David

Cancer is among the leading causes of death worldwide. In 2012, there were 14 million new cases and 8.2 million cancer-related deaths worldwide. Shockingly, the number of annual new cancer cases will rise to 22 million within the next two decades. The path to beating this deadly disease has been a long and arduous one, fraught with setbacks. Humanity has managed to keep cancer somewhat at bay by using the three pillars of cancer treatment: surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Surgery acts directly at the site and removes the tumorous tissue. Radiation therapy blasts cancerous cells with X-rays and chemotherapy delivers toxic chemicals to the body which poisons the malignancies. These traditional methods are still the go-to options for people who suffer from the disease. While these modes of treatment have been highly effective at beating cancer into remission, they are also associated with negative patient side effects as they often destroy large populations of healthy cells.

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.…

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!”…

Thesis Spotlight: Blockchain Technology: Revolutionizing Cross Border Payments

Hickey Zachary

Modern technology has revolutionized worldwide communication standards. Phone calls and e-mails, that travel directly from A to B, help maintain contact between people no matter how far apart they are. However, when dealing with wealth (or money) things become more problematic. In person, the process of transferring money is cheap, secure, and anonymous - if Alice needed to send $1 to Bob she could easily hand him the dollar with dependability and privacy. Yet, if Alice and Bob were living in different states, countries, or continents, they would have to trust a central authority to act as a validator and liaison for the transaction - adding unnecessary fringe fees and time delays.

Thesis Spotlight: Food Allergy Prevention

Lengerich Constanza

Food allergies affect 1 in every 13 children in the US, and it has increased by 50% since 1997. Food allergies result in more than 300,000 ambulatory-care visits a year among children, and it’s the leading cause of anaphylaxis outside the hospital setting.

Allergists struggle to diagnose allergic reactions in children because they don’t have a clear history of reactions, and current diagnostic tests provide information only about the levels of IgE antibodies – which let patients know if they are allergic, but cannot predict the severity of reactions. Currently, a food challenge test is the only method of diagnosis, which consists in giving the patient small amounts of the food, and monitor the reactions. 40% of these tests result in severe reactions. Also, the experience is extremely traumatic for mothers and children, and doctors feel very uncomfortable exposing patients to potential life-threatening reactions. Consequently, many patients prefer not to have the test and then never know which foods will cause severe allergic reactions. Food allergies negatively affect the quality of life for families: meal preparation by 60%, social activities by 49%, stress levels by 41% and school attendance by 34%. The US economic cost is estimated at $25 billion annually or $4,184 per year per child.…

Thesis Spotlight: NORDAM Aerospace Group

Sedor Michael

Four and a half decades before Michael Sedor joined the ESTEEM Graduate Program, a small, bankrupt manufacturing company in Tulsa, Oklahoma caught the eye of an entrepreneurial man named Ray Siegfried. Taking a leap of faith, Ray bought the failed business and began building the aerospace company of his dreams. Now officially known as the NORDAM Aerospace Group, Siegfried’s company has grown into a billion dollar, privately owned major aircraft supplier, boasting over 2,500 employees and providing key components to industry leaders such as Airbus and Boeing.…

Thesis Spotlight: Gleaux, Inc.


When he was earning a degree in biophysics at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ben Kelty wrote a capstone course project on the bioluminescent plant created by BioGlow Tech, now Gleaux Inc., a fascinating technology with potential uses from landscape planting to bedroom nightlights. After two years of undergraduate science research, Kelty decided to seek problem-solving opportunities in the business field – so he joined this year’s ESTEEM class.

Thesis Spotlight: Trebor International


The semiconductor industry accounted for over $335 billion last year! You may be asking what exactly is a semiconductor? Well, a semiconductor is a material that has the conductivity between that of most metals and of an insulator. They are often used as an essential component in electronic circuits, and more specifically in microprocessors. The manufacturing of a semiconductor wafer is quite complex and includes many different processes. One of the important components of this manufacturing process includes pumps that are used to move chemicals through the systems used in the fabrication of the wafer.…

University Research Project: Addressing Social Anxiety in Autistic Children

Children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder often have difficulty with social interactions. Research has shown that their social behavior can improve when they are exposed to pleasurable social engagements on a consistent basis. Much research still needs to be done in order to measure effective intervention. Not only is the wellbeing of the child affected due to limited and/or stressful social interactions, there is also sufficient impact on the mental wellbeing of parents with an autistic child as they often recognize their child’s restricted personal connection with others and perceived social limitations.…

Industry Sponsored Project: Unity Gardens

As our final semester is coming to a close and we are all in the midst of preparing for our final thesis defenses, I have begun to reflect back on this past year in the ESTEEM program. Especially as I prepare for my own thesis defense, I cannot believe how far my project has come since the beginning of the summer semester. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to work on a thesis project that I can honestly say I am deeply passionate about. This opportunity was made possible because of the hard work and dedication of the ESTEEM staff members to ensure that each one of us found a project that was the right fit for our interests and backgrounds. …

Industry Sponsored Project: Slipstream

Over 50% of our students this year are working on Industry Sponsored Projects.  This week's project is presented by Arnaud Bacye.


Based in Granger, Slipstream Projects is an electrical/manufacturing startup company at the forefront of smart generation and the storage of energy. Led by a team of four -- including Lead Engineer Kevin O’Keeffe, a former ESTEEM student -- Slipstream has recently been driving innovation in the field of emergency power.…

Industry Sponsored Project: NanoSynth


The 2015-2016 ESTEEM class has three students working with Notre Dame alum Jason Young at NanoSynth Materials and Sensors. NanoSynth is a research-based company located in Salt Lake City, Utah. NanoSynth is making cutting-edge advancements in the fields of chemistry, biology, alternative energy and adaptable technology. Their projects span various fields and application such as miniature sensors and devices, solar energy conversion and storage, biomedical composites, optoelectronic devices, and biodiesel.…

Industry Sponsored Project: Banjo

Over 50% of our students this year are working on Industry-Sponsored Projects.  This week's project is presented by Jordan Schwers.


Banjo Corporation started in the garage of Jack Canine in 1959 as Terra-Knife, an agricultural supply company that provided fertilizer knives to farmers. Since its humble beginnings, Banjo has grown to become a leader in offering high-quality liquid handling products for various applications. Banjo joined IDEX Corporation’s Fluid and Metering Technology Division in 2006 to strengthen IDEX’s already robust global position in delivering complete fluidics solutions to the agricultural and industrial industries.…

Industry Sponsored Project: Indiana Integrated Circuits

IIC Logo

Indiana Integrated Circuits, LLC (IIC) was founded in 2009 by Jason Kulick and Professor Gary Bernstein to commercialize an innovative semiconductor packaging and interconnect technology. This technology, called Quilt Packaging (QP), exists as a result of research at the University of Notre Dame, but the company has subsequently moved operations to Innovation Park located in South Bend, Indiana.…

Industry Sponsored Projects: Cupprint


This year’s collection of thesis projects has definitely become one of the most diverse in the history of the ESTEEM program. With over half of them being industry sponsored it is easy to see the benefits and opportunities being presented to the class of 2016. Perhaps the most intriguing industry sponsored project this year is the expansion of CupPrint LLC into the United States, headed by current ESTEEM students Todd Hoogland and Paul Mahony.…

Industry Sponsored Projects: Oak Financial Software

Oak Financial Logo

Oak Financial Software Co. is a startup located right at home in South Bend, IN.  Started just a few years ago, Oak Financials current focus is on a mobile application called Chapulin. Lead by University of Notre Dame Associate Professor Jesus Izaguirre, a small team of three engineer’s work to grow the international remittance application.

Industry Sponsored Projects: Somni LLC

Over 50% of our students this year are working on Industry-Sponsored Projects.  This week's project is presented by Timothy Jacque, a recent graduate of Michigan State University. 


My project is working with Somni LLC located in South Bend Indiana. Founded by a Notre Dame graduate, current student and professor, we are developing a digital platform to change sleep behavior for better health, learning, and performance. The platform is based on research done by Dr. Jessica Payne, Notre Dame professor and expert sleep neuroscientist. Using her work Somni is creating lecture based content to be distributed to members of the “Somni Community.” …

Thesis Spotlight: Matt Hansen

Photo of student Matt Hansen

Recently I had the opportunity to meet with Matt Hansen, a 2014 chemical engineering graduate from the University of Pittsburgh and ESTEEM student. He is currently taking a break from his study of polymers to grow his own thesis idea, a software and hardware platform to help improve the wellness of people everywhere by improving upon current "workout apps."

Thesis Spotlight: Ben Hoggan

Photo of student Ben Hoggan

Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with ESTEEM student Ben Hoggan, a 2013 physics graduate of Utah Valley University. A Silicon Valley native, he moved to Utah in 2007 and traded in his water polo cap for hockey skates, growing a deep love for the rink. He comes to ESTEEM following an internship studying high energy physics at CERN to take his longtime passion for sports to design safer equipment for those who play them.

Thesis Spotlight: Christopher Cali

Photo of student Christopher Cali

Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with Christopher Cali from the ESTEEM program to learn more about his work on developing new diagnostic tools for breast cancer. Mr. Cali graduated from Notre Dame in May of 2014 from the Science Business program. A former captain of the Irish Guard, the ceremonial marching unit which leads the Notre Dame Band, and a current tour guide coordinator for the Eck Visitors Center, he plans to take his leadership skills to utilize "business and entrepreneurship to make a positive impact in the world." 

Thesis Spotlight: Jonathan Schommer

Photo of student Jonathan Schommer

Last May Mr. Schommer graduated from Notre Dame with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering and a bachelor's degree in the Program of Liberal Studies. While doing his undergrad, he was heavily involved with Notre Dame's Center for Social Concerns through service-learning programs and service on their student advisory board. Because of this involvement and a senior thesis project working with the group Engineering2Empower, Mr. Schommer is working to improve storm drainage systems for the city of South Bend and beyond.

Thesis Spotlight: Derek Athy

Photo of student Derek Athy

Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with Derek Athy from the ESTEEM program to learn more about his work on improving the treatment quality for breast cancer and colon cancer patients. Mr. Athy joined ESTEEM this last June, coming from a research coordinator position at the University of Chicago. Working with the research group of Steven Buechler, Ph.D., Sunil Badve, M.D., and Yesim Gökmen-Polar, Ph.D., Mr. Athy hopes to develop a strong foundation for this powerful technology to penetrate the market and bring better treatment to cancer patients nationwide.




Engineering2Empower (E2E) is a start-up that is the direct result of an ESTEEM Capstone Thesis Project and the research of Professors Tracy Kijewski-Correa and Alexandros Taflanidis