Capstone Thesis

The ESTEEM Program is built on utilizing the technical skills of the students and supplementing them with a core business curriculum to develop a commercialization plan for a technology through a capstone thesis project. This thesis work performed by ESTEEM students is the cornerstone of the Program.  It requires a minimum investment of 15-20 hours per week of the student's time and energy from June to May.

 Students are supported by:

  • their industry sponsor,
  • top research faculty,
  • professional ESTEEM program staff,
  • proven, successful, senior level executives/entrepreneurs who serve as commercial advisers.

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Innovation and entrepreneurship come to life in a powerful way through this unique program element, allowing students to experience the stages of thinking through bringing a real technology to market. ESTEEM Capstone thesis projects come from three different sources:

University Research 

The ESTEEM Program works with Notre Dame faculty in the Colleges of Science and Engineering as well as with the Office of Technology Transfer to identify research with commercial potential. These projects are sourced prior to the start of the Program and then presented to the incoming class. Alternatively, the ESTEEM staff will work with the students to identify research they are passionate about and then approach faculty members conducting similar research to explore possible capstone thesis opportunities.

Industry Sponsors

The ESTEEM Program works with local, national, and international industry partners to explore the commercial potential of new products or new markets for existing company products. Past industry partners have included business from small startups to multi-million dollar companies from the technology and life science fields. Upon identification of a project, the industry partner submits a list of skill sets to ESTEEM, receives resumes of incoming students who match those skill sets, conducts interviews with potential students, and selects the ideal student for their project. The matching process may begin well ahead of the start of the Program in late June.

Founder's Ideas

ESTEEM students can choose to work on an idea or product they have invented as part of their capstone thesis. In order to work on a Founder's Idea, the student must submit a one-page description of the idea, its technical merit, and the ability of the student to execute the project. The ESTEEM staff reviews the project internally as well as with experienced Notre Dame faculty and decides whether to allow the student to pursue the project. The student is then matched with a Notre Dame faculty member who acts as a technical adviser to the student during the duration of the Program.  

Project Matching

Between the months of March and June, staff from the ESTEEM Program work with sponsoring organizations and university faculty researchers to identify and define capstone thesis projects. The resumes of confirmed ESTEEM students (who will arrive on campus in late June) are made available to the organization or faculty member between early May and mid-June, with the expectation that the student is selected by early to mid July.

Thesis Timeline

  • Technology

    Understand the underlying technology

  • Validation

    Perform customer interviews to identify market need

  • Competitors

    Perform competitive & Intellectual Property analysis

  • Launch Strategy

    Develop a go-to-market strategy for the project

  • Financials

    Create a financial forecast, enterprise valuation and ROI

  • Technology
  • Validation
  • Competitors
  • Launch Strategy
  • Financials
  • July
  • September
  • November
  • January
  • March
  • May