Capstone Project

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 project. This 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.

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.

Descriptions of past and present capstone projects can be found here.

Featured Projects

ESTEEM capstone projects come from three main sources:

University Research 

The ESTEEM Program works with Notre Dame faculty in the Colleges of Science and Engineering as well as with the IDEA Center's enterprise acceleration team 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 Sponsored

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 Idea

ESTEEM students can choose to work on an idea or product they have invented. In order to work on a Founder's Idea capstone project, the student must present their idea to ESTEEM faculty and staff. During the presentation, they must address:

  • the problem they are trying to solve
  • the technology they are proposing
  • the market size for the proposed solution
  • the customers for the proposed solution
  • the primary competitors (direct or indirect) for the proposed solution
  • what progress they have made to date.

Students submitting a Founder's Idea must show that they have made significant progress prior to enrolling in ESTEEM, the idea must have a significant technical element, and the student must be willing to put in time and effort above and beyond the usual requirements of the capstone project. Students with approved Founder's Idea projects will submit their project to the McCloskey New Venture Competition. Additionally, it is expected that serious consideration will be given to the student pursuing their Founder's Idea venture post-graduation.


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 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.

Capstone Project 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