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ND Teams Take Top Two Spots in 6th Annual Stryker Engineering Challenge

AUTHOR: Nina Welding

PUBLISHED: May 6, 2016

Two teams from the College of Engineering won the first and second place awards at the 6th Annual Stryker Engineering Challenge competition held in Kalamazoo, Michigan on March 31, 2016. Also participating were teams from the University of Michigan, Purdue University, Western Michigan University, and the Michigan Colleges Alliance.

The ND wins are even more impressive when you consider that from Thursday evening until Friday afternoon, essentially 16 hours with no sleep, the students were tasked with building and programming a robot that simulated saving victims from a natural gas leak. The skill set to manage the challenge required general mechanics (statistics/dynamics/mechanical linkages), analog design capabilities, programming knowledge (the language platform used was similar to C), and a passion for engineering for the greater good. While the robots began with Vex robot kits, all teams were given short “Tech Challenges” in addition to the main heat. Notre Dame won those as well.

First place in the robot competition went to Team Notre Dame Gold (Brittany DiGenova, Kyle Williams, Chandler Casey, and Thomas Franceschi), and second place went to Team Notre Dame Blue (Linda Gong, Nick Carroll, Matthew Flanagan, and Eileen Madigan). The ND winners of the “Tech Challenges” were reversed in order. Each member of the winning team received a $1,000 scholarship and interview for a Stryker internship.

The College of Engineering is proud of each of these students, not only for their performance in this particular competition, but of the individuals they are and the potential they represent as they enter the next stages of their lives and careers. We asked them about the competition and their views of engineering, and we think that after reading their answers you will be just as excited as we are about the future of engineering.


Chandler Casey

Rapid City, South Dakota
Mechanical Engineering

Q: What has been the most impactful way you have demonstrated your interest in engineering?

A: I have always loved math and science, and I know the value that scientific knowledge has for society. I demonstrate that best through my STEM advocacy. Among my peers on campus I encourage others to stick with it through moments of doubt and the pressures of college life. In addition to that, I have also been mentoring a local High School FIRST Robotics Team. FIRST Robotics seeks to promote STEM interest in high school students through robotics competition. Building an engineering community is important for those of us who will soon be entering the field; it is equally important to the generation of engineers who will follow us.

Brittany DiGenova

Duvall, Washington

Computer Science, with a Concentration in Media Computing

Q: What has been the most impactful way you have demonstrated your interest in engineering?

A: The most impactful way I have used engineering was my time in Engineering to Empower. It is a group that focuses on building affordable, earthquake-safe homes in Haiti. The group also set up mortgage systems so that the people could afford homes sooner. The homes are then built by the people of Haiti in order that they could be empowered and self-reliant. I am no longer in this group since I switched majors from civil engineering to computer science, but the group is a perfect example of how engineering can improve the lives of others.

As far as the competition, our team was a last-minute invitee and, ironically, the first Notre Dame team to ever win. I think a lot of engineers, especially females, can be intimidated when the challenges they face are not in their “area of study.” This was the case with our team, which consisted of three computer scientists and only one mechanical engineer when most of the challenges involved electrical and mechanical problems. Many of our competitors also had extensive robotics experience. But at the end of the day, being an engineer is as much about creativity of thought and problem solving as it is about raw intelligence.

Thomas Franceschi

Walnut Creek, California

Computer Science

Q: What are your future goals?

A: In the future, I hope to be working at a start-up in Silicon Valley. I am very creative and want to find a place where I can be involved in the design process for tech products from start to finish and feel like I am making a tangible impact on the success of the company. I also want to help create products that have a real impact on people’s lives as I am a big believer that engineering has the power to improve the quality of life for everyone.

Kyle Williams

St. Louis, Missouri

Computer Science

Q: Why did you choose engineering as your major?

A: I chose to major in computer science because I am fascinated with technology and contributing to new developments to better everyday life for humanity as a whole. I have always been interested in approaching problems pragmatically but also creatively, which means understanding how things work as well as looking for ways to help them work better. I also chose engineering because it is a continual learning process that won’t stop once I graduate; to stay relevant, I will need to continue learning throughout my future career and my life in general.


Nick Carroll

Whitehouse, Ohio

Computer Engineering

Q: What has been the most impactful way you have demonstrated your interest in engineering?

A: One way I demonstrated my interest in engineering in an impactful manner was directing a robotics camp for middle school students. In middle school, my passion for engineering developed directly as a result of me working with the LEGO Mindstorms NXT programming kits. The activity combined my love of LEGOs with my love of learning to create a completely new experience. I was able to see something I built up from scratch, both hardware and software wise, spring to life and successfully complete a task. While running these robotics camps, I was able to spread my passion for this to the next generation of engineering majors, and hopefully inspire others to pursue engineering as a career.

Matthew Flanagan

Shreveport, Louisana
Computer Science 

Q: What are your future goals?

A: My dream job would be to work in the space industry. Great engineering projects always capture people’s minds and imaginations, none more so than the “space race” and Apollo program of the 20th century. Getting back to space should be, in my opinion, one of the largest goals for both America and humanity in the near future, and to be a part of that vision and achievement would be an incredible experience.

Linda Gong

Granger, Indiana
Electrical Engineering

Q: Why did you choose engineering as your major?

A: Like my teammates, I chose engineering to enhance our education in innovative and efficient ways so that I can make a difference in the world. Many issues that society faces today (energy crisis, climate change, etc.) will require engineering design for improvement. My teammates and I want to join in the great minds behind cutting-edge technology, and really see the positive effects of what we are working toward. Specifically, I have a special interest in alternative and renewable energy, so I want to spend part of my future focused on developing energy sources. I also would like to help improve our country’s electrical grid as our current grid is often inefficient.

Eileen Madigan

Libertyville, Illinois
Mechanical Engineering

Q: What has been the most impactful way you have demonstrated your interest in engineering?

A: As a member of the Notre Dame Chapter of the Society for Women Engineers, I have worked with many young middle school and high girls to promote and excite creativity and problem solving through tutoring programs. For example, one of the projects from my tutoring was to develop and design something together with young girls (for example, the ideal “pet robot”) in an attempt to build enthusiasm for the potential engineering has to offer. On my own time as well, I have traveled to different schools and organizations to talk to parents about their children’s potential and to young girls about not letting self-consciousness get in the way of their own ability to make a positive impact on the world specifically through a STEM career. I am also part of a new club on campus called Enable that uses 3D printing to create artistic and individualized prosthetic arms for children.