Rusty In Front Of The Golden Dome Main Building
This week was the first week of the fall semester. It is hard to believe we have one semester down already. My schedule looks deceptively empty in the mornings. Though most of my classes start in the afternoon, the real work takes place in the morning. This is the time to spend researching my capstone project and taking a dive into my side hustle. The mornings are full of meetings and planning, Miro boards and Gantt charts.
Monday started off with some bad news. My friend’s mother passed away after a short battle with an illness. We were close enough that I referred to her as “mom” and she referred to me as her daughter. Since my time as a medic in the Air Force, I have had a passion for healthcare. Though my heart is heavy, her passing motivates me this week so I can create positive change in healthcare for people like her.
Monday was a day of planning and writing. One of the milestones in the program is the “statement of work,” something like a written understanding between me and my Capstone team. My Capstone project is with Medtronic, a medical devices company. We are making a Parkinson’s Disease treatment remotely accessible. I have spent the past few weeks researching the technology and Parkinson’s Disease. Armed with the entrepreneurial course work from the summer and this research, I wrote my “statement of work” and had some other ESTEEM students review it. So, it is time to finalize it and submit it for review. I feel like I have learned so much about my subject but there is still so much more to learn.
Tuesday was Business Presentations and Technical Marketing. Public speaking has never been my favorite subject because I get extremely nervous. But the Presentations class, though it has our entire ESTEEM cohort, is structured in small breakout groups, each led by one of the instructors. The groups will give quality peer feedback and ample practice. By the end of this class, we will be able to talk about our Capstone projects (and ourselves) confidently.
Coach Harms is one of our professors for the presentations class as well as a Notre Dame Boxing coach. We talked after class about the Baraka Bouts which is the women’s boxing team. Though COVID has limited club activity, the Baraka Bouts will continue with practice this year. I love martial arts and have done kickboxing and other martial arts previously. Quarantine has been hard on my fitness so I decided that it might be time to put my gloves on again.
It felt like a long day and my internet was down from the storm on Monday. So I took my dog on an adventure around campus. Before I came to Notre Dame, I knew the campus was beautiful. But the pictures just don’t do it justice. I came from Austin, Texas where it is in the 100’s this week. Here, the weather is perfect for exploring. My dog, Rusty, and I walk 5 miles a day on average because there is so much to see on campus. This day, we walk over 7 miles. We stopped by my favorite building, the Jordan Hall of Science. Then we continued to the Stadium and the Golden Dome. We couldn’t resist the photo op.
I had been looking forward to Wednesday for some time. Classes on Wednesday are Object Design and Leadership. Object Design takes place in the heart of the Innovation Lab. This lab is one of the reasons I chose ESTEEM. As ESTEEM students, we have access to 3D printers, laser cutters, and even a maker space. Though the team at the Innovation Lab can help design our idea, I want to learn how to do it myself. So, in class, we are learning how to model in SolidWorks. We designed a small part that we could 3D print in one class. It doesn’t seem like much, but it is a small step towards a big goal.
Leadership class surprised me. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this class as much as I did. Prof. Greenspun is a storyteller. He engaged us with a hilarious story about his younger sister with a profound message about leadership. He talked about ripples that form with seemingly small choices that can have lasting and far reaching consequences. I came to class believing I could not possibly learn anything new on leadership but left wondering if I knew anything about it. Prof. Greenspun doesn’t want us just to be good leaders in our careers but, leaders in the world.
That evening, as I walked Rusty, I listened to a podcast from Freakonomics called “Who Gets the Ventilator?” and thought about my role as a leader and an innovator. The podcast weighed the pros, cons, and ethics of creating a priority system for ventilators during the COVID pandemic. By the end of the show, I didn’t envy anyone in that leadership role.
Thursday is the last day of classes for the week but, before that, I have my weekly check-in with my Capstone team at Medtronic. Last week, we learned about a similar product of Medtronic’s and we are looking for overlap with our own to save time and create brand consistency. I work with one of Medtronic’s top engineers and strategic planners on my project. They are an excellent team to work with and I look forward to our weekly video conferences. We decided our next step so, it is up to me to familiarize myself with the next product before our next meeting.
I had a one-on-one meeting with Erik Oswald, who is ESTEEM's Graduate Career Services Consultant. He asked me about my background and my career choices so he can put me in touch with recruiters looking for people like me in career paths I would enjoy. Erik also hosts professional development classes throughout the year so we can build our skills and become more competitive in the job market. We don’t have any of his classes this week, but we have access to a lot of resources in the meantime. Thanks, Erik!
My Thursday class is Entrepreneurial Immersion, and, like many ESTEEM classes, it is led by experienced entrepreneurs. For this class, we are doing a design sprint which is a way of condensing the design process to produce fast results. It will be a quick pace, but we could produce real results which we can expand on after class. A previous team even created their own company from the research they did in this class. Each class period functions as a day in the sprint. This semester’s theme is tailgating. Let’s hope we can “research” this topic this football season.
Though I didn’t have class on Friday, I opted to go to the Innovation Lab and do some research and practice for my “side hustle.” I want to make 3D printed prosthetics and devices to help with mobility. I watched videos on how current 3D printed prosthetics are made and assembled. I sketched out a rough concept on my own hand and thought about how my own device would need to move. It is a little advanced for now, so I decided to start smaller and build a single finger first.
Finally, the weekend arrived. My brain felt full so, I recovered with some self-care: video games, homemade pancakes, and plenty of walks. Rusty can’t get enough of the campus and neither can I. We enjoyed the weather while doing some reading for the next week. After a quick rest, it is time to dive back into the hustle.