Curriculum

Entrepreneurship is a learn-by-doing discipline.  However, there are skill sets that are needed in order to fully jump into the world of starting a new venture or pushing new initiatives through an existing company.  ESTEEM's curriculum has been specifically designed to build business skills through the lens of entrepreneurship, delivered by faculty members who have lived it.  Whether it is Accounting & Finance, Business Model Canvas & Design Thinking, or Technical Marketing, the ESTEEM curriculum has been honed to teach students what they need to know to get new things started.

Unlike other programs that may rely heavily on weekly assignments or midterm and final projects to show students how to apply their skills, the ESTEEM Program has strategically integrated the curriculum with the year-long capstone thesis project.  The capstone thesis serves as the real-world sandbox where students take their classroom skills and apply them to an actual technology commercialization effort.  The timeline of the thesis project matches the sequence of classes through the year, and in many cases, assignments in class are used to advance a student's thesis.  In addition to the business classes, students also are taking technical electives, furthering their STEM training, and continuing to be educated on the cutting edge of science, engineering, and technology.  At the end of the program, students are granted a Master of Science (M.S.) in Engineering, Science, and Technology Entrepreneurship.

The curriculum is divided into three parts, which take place over the course of three semesters (Summer, Fall, Spring):

  • Business Courses: These are the courses that the class takes together as a cohort, covering entrepreneurship business fundamentals and totalling 18 credit hours.
  • Technical Electives:  Each student is required to take 6 credit hours that build on their technical background, often times directly related to their capstone thesis project.  These classes are selected from the College of Engineering and the College of Science, and serve as a way for students to continue to build their technical skills.
  • Capstone Thesis: The capstone thesis is also a formal part of their curriculum, making up 9 credit hours of the program.

Summer Semester

Accounting/Finance: The fundamental objective of this course is to introduce students to the methods of financial decision-making and reporting. The course will introduce students to the methods of financial data organization (i.e., accounting basics), common approaches to the use of such data, and the basics economics of business decision-making. Time permitting, the course will address the structure of basic accounting statements, important accounting methods, creating pro forma financial statements, the interpretation and managerial uses uses of accounting data, the time value of money, investment decision basics, and firm valuation. We will consider practical applications of principles with emphasis on technology-based firms. Faculty: David Hutchison

Business Model Canvas and Design Thinking: The goal of this class is to increase the student's ability to move an idea to a minimum viable prototype by using sound techniques and methods including business model canvas and customer discovery. This intense course will teach students the basics of business model canvas (BMC) and then require the students to get out of the building and perform customer interviews to test the canvas based on pre-assigned projects. LaunchPad Central will be used as a tool to populate the BMC and customer interviews.The students will then be expected to use the knowledge from in-class presentations and customer feedback to develop a minimum viable prototype/product (MVP). Grading will be based on in-class assignments, number and quality of customer interviews, weekly presentations and the design of MVP. Faculty: Sunny Shah

Capstone Thesis: This course is the completion of the Thesis Project for the ESTEEM Program. The end result is a thesis that describes in depth the intellectual property/technology embodied in the thesis project, applications, commercialization of the technology and culminating in a business plan. Faculty: Thesis Advisers 

Design Entrepreneurship: Visualization can be a powerful way to inspire confidence in investors. This process-based course introduces various techniques to communicate design intent. Topics covered include: product development, user experience, works and looks-like prototyping, infographics and data-visualization, design narrative, photo and video ethnography, and process documentation. Through experience and tangible outcome, students will obtain a measurable shift in their understanding of product development, while improving presentations skills and aesthetic judgment. Faculty: Michael Elwell

Statistics: Overview of applied linear regression modeling, including the method of ordinary least squares, parameter interpretation and testing, variable selection, assessing model fit, and model diagnostics. Statistical theory and inference including sampling distributions, confidence intervals, and hypothesis testing will be reviewed. The statistical software environment R will be used throughout the course. Faculty: Alan Huebner

Fall Semester

Business Law: Law relating to startup and ongoing operation of businesses. Intellectual property law, including patents, trade secrets, copyrights, and trademarks. Business organizations, contract, and product liability law. Focus on issues related to inventions stemming from early embryonic ideas, including university research and breakthrough technologies. Faculty: James Farrington

Business Presentations: This highly compact course offers a look at the principles and techniques involved in effective technical presentations for business audiences. Following a brief review of both theory and practice, students are asked to prepare a two-minute elevator pitch, summarizing their intellectual interest and business plan. That assignment is followed by a more comprehensive technology review for potential business partners. Faculty: Jim O'Rourke, Carolyn Langley, Chad Harms, Sandra Collins

Capstone Thesis: This course is the second phase (of a total of three courses) to complete the ESTEEM Thesis Project. Faculty: Thesis Advisers 

Data Analytics: This course will provide hands on experience using analytic solutions from SAP. Topics include reporting using SAP Business Explorer, SAP Business Objects Analysis, and data mining using SAP Predictive Analytics. Students are introduced to SAP Business Objects and SAP Design Studio applications with a focus on hands-on exercises covering end user analytics. Faculty: Bob Lewandowski

Launch Strategy I: This course will provide an understanding of planning and road mapping frameworks to help build an actionable bridge from search-mode to execution-mode as startups look towards launching and scaling the venture. Launch Strategy I will focus on the go-to-market aspects of the venture and will set a foundation for Launch Strategy II where students will actively develop the financials supporting their launch strategy for their ESTEEM thesis project. Faculty: Sam Miller

Leadership: This course spurs students to develop, refine, and implement an individualized understanding of what it means to be an effective leader. Course readings, materials, activities, and assignments expose students to various conceptions of effective leadership; require students to develop personal definitions of leadership; and provide students with opportunities to apply and test their views on leadership through real-life scenarios. Class materials include classic texts from the field of leadership studies, as well as current literature on this topic. One or more guest speakers will provide students with a chance to gain insights from experienced leaders. And Harvard Business School Case Studies will be used to analyze and assess the actual implementation of key aspects of leadership. Ultimately, students will examine their own ESTEEM theses as a means to illustrate the types of leaders they hope to be. Faculty: Lawrence Greenspun

Technical Elective

Technical Marketing:  The Technical Marketing course will focus on the application of modern marketing techniques in the design, development, and commercialization of embryonic and high risk technologies. Core marketing principals, models, theories, and frameworks will be explored. The use of these principles in the context of the innovation cycle, from invention to venture for start-up companies and from invention through commercialization in established companies, will be emphasized. Faculty: Michael Kitz

Spring Semester

Capstone Thesis: This course is the third phase (of a total of three courses) to complete the ESTEEM Thesis Project. 

Ethics: Entrepreneurs incur a wide range of responsibilities, from the effects of their products on their customers, to the culture of their organization, to articulating a mission for their organization that goes beyond simply turning a profit. While Technology and Ethics I explored the ethical and social issues of technology in society, TE II will explore some of the ethical issues inherent in running a business. Issues covered will include the importance of organizational culture for ethical decision-making, ethical issues in testing and clinical trials, ethics in leadership, and alternatives to shareholder value as the exclusive metric of company performance. Faculty: Mark Bourgeois

Funding New Ventures I: This course examines methods that an entrepreneur would consider for financing an early stage venture. Topics include bootstrapping, microloans, bank debt, crowdfunding, angel investment, and venture capital funding. Students learn how to formulate a funding strategy for an early stage business, prepare financial projections, create a plan for use of funds, and gather appropriate and complete materials for due diligence by a lender or equity investor. Faculty: Gale Bowman

Funding New Ventures II: This course is designed to build on the foundation established by previous ESTEEM courses to generate real-world, real-time analyses of scientific and technical projects from the greater Notre Dame community that are seeking institutional funding for possible commercialization. The class will utilize all of a student's accounting and finance skills -- as well as the knowledge gained in the Financial Modeling and Business Valuation class and in Funding New Ventures I. Faculty: David Murphy

Launch Strategy II: This course will build on the fundamentals presented in Launch Strategy I and will challenge students to develop a professional quality launch strategy for their ESTEEM Thesis project. Students will present their progress intermittently and receive feedback from faculty and peer students to refine their Launch Strategy. The outcome for the course will serve as the basis for the Launch Strategy appendix in the final thesis report. Faculty: Sam Miller

Operations Execution for Startups: Traditionally, Operations Management is the practice of measurement driven production economization for familiar markets. It favors efficiency over flexibility. This is not a traditional Ops course. Instead, we will survey the elements of operationalization in a startup environment. Entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs can expect to learn relentlessly practical and fluid execution strategies for delivering hardware and software products given new and uncertain markets. In this course you will learn some techniques for prototyping, testing, and delivering products the quick and dirty way. Through readings, lectures case-studies, projects, and live, real-world demonstration, students will be exposed to the realities of product execution. Faculty: Will McLeod

Product Development: This course will cover modern techniques and strategies for product development. We will cover some systematic processes and creative processes that businesses use to create new products and services, reduce risk, and enhance the chance of success. Faculty: Michael Kitz

Sales and Sales Management: Sales and Sales Management for the Entrepreneur (SSME) is intended for ESTEEM students who at some point in their career will participate in some entrepreneurial venture or who seek a sales career with a company or who want to develop selling skills to help them with their start-up companies. Someone once said: "Nothing happens until somebody sells something." Sales skills are needed at all levels of entrepreneurism including: selling potential investors on investing; selling banks to loan needed seed and on-going capital; selling potential suppliers to provide favorable supply chain terms; selling potential partners and employee candidates on the validity of career options with the new venture; and, selling consumers or businesses on the start-up product or service.Additionally, SSME will be of value to those who seek a career in sales or sales management. Further, the course also includes a module designed for those who seek a career working for a non-profit with a focus on how to sell individuals as well as companies and foundations to invest in the desired cause. Additional elements of the course focus on: selling yourself- tips for interviewing and selling yourself to hiring managers; recruiting, hiring, training, empowering, evaluating, incenting and developing sales teams and sales leaders. Faculty: Chris Stevens

Social Entrepreneurship: Social Entrepreneurship will be a seminar style class (in full cohort) with an emphasis on readings, classroom discussion/presentation and case study analysis. The course will examine 1) The history of the social enterprise movement and this form of "disruptive innovation;" core definitions and debates around around definition; challenges to its effectiveness and sustainability, 2) For-profit and non-profit structures (similarities and differences); Hybrid-structures; Earned Income strategies; B-Corporations, 3) The Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP): Engaging the Poor as Consumers and Producers, 4) Micro-Enterprise Development and Micro-Finance Models, and 5) Funding Social Enterprises and Impact Investing. Faculty: David Murphy

Technical Elective

Thesis Defense