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 take 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 totaling around 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.

For the 2018-2019 academic year, important dates are as follows:

  • Orientation: June 20-22, 2018
  • Summer semester: June 25 - August 3, 2018
  • Fall semester: August 21 - Dec 6, 2018
  • Spring semester: January 15 - May 1, 2019
  • Commencement Weekend: May 17-19, 2019

Summer Semester 

Entrepreneurial Accounting: The Entrepreneurial Accounting Course is focused upon the basic concepts and standards underlying financial accounting systems as they relate to entrepreneurship. Several important concepts will be studied in detail, including: revenue recognition, inventory, long-lived assets, present value, and long term liabilities. The course emphasizes the construction of the basic financial accounting statements: the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement.

Entrepreneurial Immersion: The Entrepreneurial Immersion Course offers students an opportunity to move theory into practice. Students will work with experts in the field of commercialization to collect traction data on a concept, conduct customer segmentation interviews, work with market data, determine investment readiness levels, and ultimately prepare a pitch deck to seek funding. Faculty: John Henry

Entrepreneurial Thinking: The Entrepreneurial Thinking Course introduces the concepts inherent within the Entrepreneurial Mindset. Emphasis will be on the complexity and scope of the challenges that entrepreneurs face, the critical decisions they make, and the actions they take. Additionally, students will explore the foundations of the Business Model Canvas as it relates to startup generation. Faculty: Dustin Mix

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:  Theresa Foley and Matt Leevy  

Design Entrepreneurship: This process-based course introduces various techniques to communicate design intent. Topics covered include: rapid visualization, product development, user experience, works and looks-like prototyping, infographics and data-visualization, design narrative, photo and video editing, and process documentation. Through experience and tangible outcome, students will obtain a measurable shift in their understanding of product development, while improving presentation skills and aesthetic judgment. The goal of this course is not to turn ESTEEM students into designers, but to instruct them on the importance of design decisions to the product development process. Faculty: Scott Shim

Professionalism: The Professionalism Course focuses upon a collection of skills and dispositions aimed at helping students transition into the role of a professional. Topics include: Project Management, Time Management, Communication Practices, and Professional Development. Faculty: Judy Lewandowski

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, Sandra Collins, Eric Zimmer

Capstone Thesis: This course is the second phase (of a total of three courses) to complete the ESTEEM Thesis Project. Faculty: Theresa Foley and Matt Leevy 

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

Introduction to Blockchain and DLT: This course provides an initial overview of blockchain and distributed ledger technologies including the history and economics of Bitcoin, consensus protocols including proof of work and stake, cryptocurrencies, applications, security; and an introduction to hashing, encryption, and cryptography. Faculty: Nathan Miller 

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: In this course, students begin by reflecting on effective leaders they’ve known and then examine and assess one particular model of leadership—including practical applications of that leadership philosophy. From there, students are offered a number of approaches for considering what constitutes effective leadership from the views of a seminal thinker (Peter Drucker) in leadership studies to those of current thought leaders, researchers, and practitioners. Guest speakers, who hold a variety of leadership positions, share their insights and experiences, and significant issues confronting leaders today (e.g., short-term vs. long term focus) are studied and debated. As a final assignment, the students present their individualized conceptions of effective leadership—the leadership philosophy they hope to apply going forward. Faculty: Lawrence Greenspun

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: Molly Walsh

Technical Elective: Varies; Includes ESTEEM offered courses: Web Tools for Startups, Object Design & Fabrication.

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. Faculty:  Theresa Foley and Matt Leevy 

Ethical Issues in Business and Technology: 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: Judy Lewandowski

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 and Jim Hunt

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 operations 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, incentivizing 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: Varies; Includes ESTEEM offered courses: Web Tools for Startups, Object Design & Fabrication.

Thesis Defense: By the end of the Spring semester, each ESTEEM student must submit a final capstone thesis document and must defend the capstone thesis in front of a committee consisting of the technical adviser, ESTEEM thesis adviser, a faculty member from the Mendoza College of Business and the Assistant Provost & Executive Director of ESTEEM. Successful and unconditional passing of the Defense is a requirement of the ESTEEM program.