Gaining Real-World Insights: Tighernán Shaffrey's Exposure to Startups in the ESTEEM Program

Author: Notre Dame ESTEEM

Meet Tighernán Shaffrey, a M.S. in Entrepreneurship, Technology, & Innovation (ESTEEM) graduate student in the class of 2024. Prior to his enrollment in the program, he completed a degree in mechanical engineering at Technological University Dublin in 2023. With a strong interest in both business and technical fields, Tighernán decided to join the ESTEEM program to enhance his business acumen while building upon his mechanical engineering background. Coming from a family business background, Tighernán has always had a commercial interest and saw the ESTEEM program as the perfect opportunity to merge his technical and commercial skills.

A Deep Dive into Startups

In the evolving world of tech-driven entrepreneurship, the bridge between technical proficiency and business leadership becomes imperative. One such exemplary bridge is the ESTEEM program at the University of Notre Dame. Tighernán unveils how ESTEEM has been instrumental in shaping his ambitions and skills, merging his mechanical engineering expertise with commercial wisdom.

“I'm out talking with investors. I'm having dinner meetings with potential buyers and customers. I'm putting together partnership deals for potential proof of concept customers,” explained Tighernán. “I'm really getting first hand exposure of how a business is actually run, and what synergy that's required to actually make that all happen.”

His capstone project is with Drone Response, a pre-seed software company emerging from the Idea Center at the University of Notre Dame. Supported by the pioneering AI research of Dr. Jane Cleland Huang and the proven commercial success of CEO sponsor Bill Reh, Drone Response offers an AI-driven drone swarm management software with semi-autonomous decision-making capabilities. The software acts as a conductor, orchestrating a symphony of drones, optimizing their performance to achieve mission objectives. They aim to deploy Drone Response in Public Safety and Defense applications, with a focus on critical use cases such as search and rescue missions as well as other practical use cases where drones can be used as an asset for ground crews. By enabling effective communication and collaboration between drone fleets and ground control teams, they maximize mission success. This project specifically targets the defense industry, exploring opportunities for Drone Response in surveillance, intelligence, and reconnaissance. Through thorough market research and possible investment opportunities, this project aims to identify the optimal launch strategy for their planned entry into the defense market in 2025.

Discovering Notre Dame’s Network

One aspect of the ESTEEM program that Tighernán discovered along the way was the exceptional Notre Dame alumni network. He soon realized that the power of this network was beyond comparison. The alumni's expertise, knowledge, and connections serve as valuable resources for ESTEEM candidates, offering immense potential for personal and professional growth. The strong bond among alumni cultivates a sense of belonging and support, making the ESTEEM journey even more rewarding.

“I know I'm going to be making a lot of mistakes along the way, but I know that the Notre Dame Alumni Network will be there to support me on my way and give as much advice as we need to make things happen,” said Tighernán. “The Notre Dame alumni network is beyond reproach. You can't get much better than Notre Dame's alumni network.”

Transitioning to a new environment can often be challenging, especially when it involves moving away from home. However, Tighernán found solace in the sense of community and camaraderie among the ESTEEM students. He emphasizes that everyone in the program is in it together, willing to lend a helping hand to their peers. This supportive network played a pivotal role in facilitating Tighernán's smooth transition, proving that the ESTEEM family truly stands by one another.

The ESTEEM program at the University of Notre Dame is more than just an academic pursuit. It is a transformative journey where technical prowess meets commercial strategy, where alumni mentorship uplifts aspiring entrepreneurs, and where a sense of community fosters individual growth. Tighernán's immersion into startups, combined with his dedication to bridging his technical and business worlds, serves as an inspiring testament to the program's impact. As future entrepreneurs and innovators consider their paths, Tighernán's story underscores the value of real-world exposure and the power of a supportive community.

To join us on the journey of innovation and entrepreneurship, discover more about the ESTEEM program and take the first step toward a rewarding future today.

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