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Fellowships fund Irish exchange program

| Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Each year, Notre Dame hosts a number of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) undergraduate and graduate students from one of four universities in Ireland and conversely sends several of its own students abroad to Ireland through an exchange program funded for six years by the Naughton Fellowships.

The Naughton family donated $8 million for the fellowships so that Notre Dame, as well as Trinity College of Dublin, Dublin City University, University College Dublin and University College Cork, could participate in the international exchange, according to the Office of the Vice President for Research’s (OVPR) website.

According to Joanne Fahey, Research Communications Program Director for OVPR, the College of Science currently hosts four students in Masters degree programs and five in Ph.D. programs. Another four Notre Dame students pursuing their Masters and four Notre Dame Ph.D. students are studying and researching in Ireland through the fellowship.

Undergraduate students in the Naughton program participate in a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), a 10-week long summer program, Fahey said in an email.

Notre Dame undergraduates seeking to apply for an REU in Dublin or Cork are required to submit an application before February 22nd, according to the program’s website. Undergraduates apply directly to work on a specific project that has been put forth by the hosting institution. Summer 2015 projects for American students will be listed in December, the website stated.

Dublin native Amy Flanagan is currently pursuing her Masters degree at Notre Dame through the Engineering, Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Excellence Masters (ESTEEM) program. She has been working with the Center for Research Computing (CRC) — particularly Dr. Timothy Wright, assistant director of the CRC — to develop her thesis.

“Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the CRC have developed a web-based application that trains personnel in an Emergency Operations Center,” Flanagan said in an email. “Whenever there is an emergency, management from each of the agencies involved — Mayor’s office, police or fire department, Red Cross and NGOs etc. — all gather together to make strategic decisions in one room known as an Emergency Operations Center.

“These people are under severe pressure to make quick decisions that have lasting impacts on the entire community. The application that has been developed in collaboration with Emory University, Florida International University and Miami-Dade [Emergency Operations Center] can be used to simulate a disaster and train personnel. My thesis project is developing the business plan for the commercialization of this.”

Flanagan said the program has kept her busy but has provided a substantial amount of unique opportunities.

“I really feel that the ESTEEM program is an incredible chance to launch yourself into a variety of careers — be it the startup scene, large technology, medical or engineering firms, consultancy or even non-profits,” she said. “The amount of opportunities that we have is simply vast and I’m trying to really seize as many as I can in a short period of time.

“As part of it I am hoping to look for a internship with a local startup, continue working on my capstone thesis and ESTEEM classes, as well as analyze more business startup ventures through the McCloskey Business Plan Competition here on campus.”

The Naughton Fellowship has been in existence for six years, according to its website. Alumni from every year gathered together in October of this year, Flanagan said.

“The Naughton Foundation has been an incredible support from the outset,” she said. “I can’t express how grateful we are to them for this. We were able to throw a reunion tailgate for the Naughton alumni at the Stanford game and it was brilliant to be able to have everyone together again after about five years of the program. The people that are now a part of the alumni are an incredible testament to the Foundation, and of course the Naughton family themselves.

“The whole experience with ESTEEM that the Naughton Foundation has given us has been second to none and has simply opened a whole array of doors to us all that will allow us to launch our careers in an unbelievable way,” Flanagan said. “We can only hope to take the skills and experience that we learn in the coming years and pay it forward later on when we are in a position to do so.”

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About Margaret Hynds

Margaret is a senior Political Science major and the former Editor-in-Chief of The Observer. She hails from Washington, D.C., and is a former Phox of Pangborn Hall. Follow Margaret on Twitter @MargaretHynds

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