'If there's anywhere in the US where an Irishman can feel at home, it's Notre Dame'
My Education Week: SHANE McQUILLANNaughton fellow, University of Notre Dame
It’s class time again. Just a few months ago, as a new college graduate, I assumed I would be starting a job. I had just completed four years as a Naughton scholar, studying software engineering at Dublin City University, and I thought my student days were over for a while.
The Naughton family changed that plan, however, and I was awarded a Naughton fellowship to pursue a master’s degree at the University of Notre Dame in the US. I’m already in my sixth week.
I’m taking what I learned about building a product at DCU and pushing it to the next level, from concept to market delivery. The Esteem programme – engineering, science and technology entrepreneurial excellence master’s – covers the fundamentals of business alongside advanced science and engineering concepts.
I visited Notre Dame, one of the top universities in the US, in November 2008 and knew I wanted to return. I’m one of five Irish students on the Esteem programme, and if there’s anywhere in the US where you can feel at home as an Irishman, it’s Notre Dame.
We take business classes as well as a technical elective each semester. Today, for example, we are finishing statistics and accounting. We are getting a grounding in business while delving deeper into our chosen field of engineering.
And all this takes place at the amazing facility of Innovation Park, an incubator where more than 30 high-tech start-ups launch themselves into the business world.
What better place to be pursuing a master’s in entrepreneurship than right here, immersed in the mindsets and networks of inspiring professionals.
I’m putting a shape on my thesis plan. I will be working on a mobile application to detect concussions. It’s a very exciting project with great business prospects.
Each week I meet with my technical advisers, Dr Christian Poellabauer and Prof Patrick Flynn.
First I must detail the technology behind the concept. To get a thorough understanding of it, I am developing a testing application. It will be developed for the iPad – and I have no experience with Apple’s development software. I appreciate the chance to get exposure to the technology, as there is great business potential in mobile applications.
Next I’m off to entrepreneurship boot camp. At this session guest lecturers who are experienced entrepreneurs challenge us to improve our entrepreneurial mindset. Right now we’re using design thinking to improve the experience of finding a local children’s health museum.
We’re able to put into practice the skills we’re being taught, so we can come up with an innovative solution to the problem. After a visit to the museum, where we performed our new skills of ethnographic research, we implemented all the knowledge of idea generation.
These are the some of the skills we’ve had drilled into us by successful designers and entrepreneurs from countless top-notch firms. This way of approaching a challenge was very different from anything I’ve done in the software-engineering field, and it was quite an experience.
More accounting today; it takes me back to secondary school. We even get homework, something I never had to do at undergraduate level at home.