From Gonzaga University to ESTEEM

Author: Gene Stowe

Taylor Johnson and Michael SedorTaylor Johnson and Michael Sedor

Taylor Johnson was at an information session with ESTEEM Director David Murphy at Gonzaga University when he texted his friend and fellow mechanical engineering major Michael Sedor: “Hey, you should go check this out.” Sedor made it in time for Murphy’s 5-minute pitch, and the two started investigating the program. Now they’re roommates at Notre Dame in the ESTEEM Class of 2017.

“I think what attracted me most to the program was I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do as a mechanical engineer,” says Sedor, who was part of Gonzaga’s Comprehensive Leadership Program through his undergraduate years. “I felt like I had a broader skills set I wanted to use. The more I read about the program, the more I realized I could do that at ESTEEM because it’s a marriage between a tech background and working in the real world.”

Taylor, who was in Gonzaga’s Hogan Entrepreneurial Leadership program that earned a minor in entrepreneurial leadership, was intrigued by the business side and dissatisfied with the job prospects in mechanical engineering. His research showed that ESTEEM graduates found more career tracks.

“The opportunities that the students in ESTEEM in past years had are a lot more in line with where I could see myself working,” he says. “I think it opens a lot of doors. Taking that technical background you have and tying it in with the holistic business acumen you get form the ESTEEM program makes you such an attractive candidate for so many jobs.”

The friends are both conducting their capstone thesis work with the NORDAM aerospace group in Tulsa – Sedor on a coating that will allow electrical currents on windshields to melt ice, Taylor on flat panels using new materials and technology for airplane floors, cabinets, and overhead bins.

The courses, camaraderie – replicating their close-knit Gonzaga experience on a larger scale – and connections exceed the students’ expectations.

“I loved the summer semester,” Sedor says. “It really surprised me. I had an idea that I wanted to do not purely technical engineering going into it, but I didn’t know what other things would look like and what ESTEEM would look like day to day. The types of classes we were in, particularly Design Dntrepreneurship and our Business Model Canvas, were probably the most unique classes I have taken…compared to doing thermodynamics problems from a textbook. I got into the entrepreneurial spirit of it pretty early on. I think what I like about it the most is that it’s forced me to think about what I want to do and shown me a lot of alternatives to working in heating and ventilation and a lot of typical jobs you see coming out of engineering. It’s opened my career landscape to a lot of opportunities I didn’t know existed before this. One of the coolest things I’ve experienced is the alumni network.”

“Here, I can go on LinkedIn and there’s 90,000 Notre Dame alumni,” Johnson says. “I reached out to a number of alumni over the summer to pick their brain and see what kind of experiences they’ve had over their career. They were all super helpful. The network is very accessible, which I think is a key part, too.”