When Will McLeod graduated from Notre Dame in 2009 with dual degrees in mechanical engineering and industrial design, he enrolled in the new Engineering, Science, and Technology Entrepreneurship Excellence Master’s (ESTEEM) program. “I chose to pursue an advanced degree, but I wanted more than a traditional master’s,” he says. “The ESTEEM program was a good fit because it lets me build on my engineering expertise while also focusing on business development skills.”
By the time McLeod received his bachelor’s degrees, he had already won the Mendoza College of Business’ McCloskey Business Plan Competition, the Four Horseman Idea Plan Competition, and the TechPoint Indiana Venture Idol Statewide Competition for a “smart” window technology he and a team of undergraduates developed. The team also formed a company to continue developing their product.
Comparable to a technically oriented M.B.A., the 12-month long ESTEEM program pairs graduate students with faculty mentors from throughout the University to develop the cross-disciplinary skills needed to take technological innovations and translate them into commercial ventures.
A patent is currently pending for the McLeod and team’s original idea, SmarterShade, and several sister technologies. They are also completing an application for a Small Business Innovation Research grant to be able to develop each of their concepts into a market-ready device. When McLeod graduates from the ESTEEM program later this year, he (along with the other ESTEEM graduates) will be able to run his own start-up or create new opportunities in a larger corporation.