What does taking AP (honors)
courses in high school, graduating in the top five percent of the
class, and participating in a variety of service programs and extracurricular
activities in high school get a student? The chance to do it all
again in college. Sounds like a ton of fun. But that’s exactly
what the nation’s top students (especially those interested
in engineering) are looking for.
Engineers are problem solvers by nature; they create the technologies
of tomorrow. They also become leaders in industry, in their communities,
and in government. But it doesn’t happen overnight. It happens
because they are able to take advantage of the opportunities presented
to them, opportunities like the Engineering Honors Program.
Admission to the program is by invitation only, extended to students
who have already been admitted to Notre Dame, have expressed a desire
to pursue a career in engineering, and meet the academic requirements
of the program. Admission is also limited to 19 full-time entering
freshmen each year. These are some of the best and brightest students
at the University.
Once admitted, the fun begins. First-year students in the program are
required to take special honors sections of both engineering and humanities
courses. Although there are no specific course requirements for students
after their first year, engineering honors participants must develop
and complete an independent research project during their time at Notre
Dame. This work can begin as early as their sophomore year. During
this project, which must encompass a minimum of two semesters, students
work closely with an individual faculty adviser, who guides them in
researching and writing a thesis. The thesis must be completed and
defended during their senior year.
Honors students have the opportunity to attend special technical
seminars — covering topics such as bioengineering, energy,
high-performance computing, nanotechnology, wireless computing, and environmental sciences. They
also have the chance to interact with visiting scholars and go on
field trips, ranging from museum outings to technical tours led by
industry professionals and research partners of the University. Every
activity in the program is geared to help prepare students for the
next step, including admission to graduate school or the submission
of applications for graduate fellowships and other scholarship programs,
such as Rhodes and Marshall.
It’s a full load, but the group still finds time to wind down
and enjoy college life. They barbeque. They go to the beach. They even “kill”;
one of their most recent activities was a riveting game of Assassins,
because water guns are always fun, and tracking other players is
The entire program is a challenge, but one that the students welcome.
It provides special opportunities for engineering and scientific
research, cultural enrichment, and social interaction. It promotes
the whole individual, while encouraging the students to achieve beyond
For more information, contact Associate Professor Ken
D. Sauer, the director of the Engineering Honors Program, at Sauer@nd.edu.