Dean Gregory Crawford spoke to Student Senate Wednesday about the College of Science’s accomplishments since it set goals for development in 2008. The College aimed to improve its undergraduate program, grow economically and advance its Catholic character, Crawford said. Crawford focused on the College’s success in developing its academic curriculum. “We really put a lot of effort the last three years in biology,” he said. “A lot of the young people that we hired [for that department] we got from incredible schools.” Crawford said the College of Science added a new department called Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics, noting the University’s previous lack of a variety of statistics courses. “It was becoming an issue that we didn’t have the expertise to really dig deep into some of these questions that our researchers had,” Crawford said. The College also launched a minor in sustainability last fall, Crawford said. The program, open to all students in all majors and colleges, incorporates elements of science, human health, the environment and energy. “There are different tracks you can take, so you can … find your own niche in what you might be interested in doing,” Crawford said. The College of Science expanded its membership in the Glynn Family Honors Program, which endeavors to bridge the arts, humanities and sciences, Crawford said. Student body president Pat McCormick said he has been in conversation with the staff of the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center (DPAC) about creating an arts advisory council. “DPAC has been working to really try to develop this proposal to really advance the arts at Notre Dame,” he said after the meeting. “I think they’re still determining what the membership of the council would be, but essentially it would be a means of providing student input into the arts at Notre Dame and also work to coordinate among students in efforts to advance advocacy for the art community.” McCormick said he also scheduled a meeting with the South Bend Police Department next week to promote community relations between Notre Dame and South Bend. “We’re looking forward to just continuing to try to build up good relations and also a shared commitment to keeping the community safe,” he said.
In a lecture sponsored by the Notre Dame Federalists Society, New York Times columnist and author Ross Douthat spoke about his new book, “Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics” Tuesday afternoon in the Eck Hall of Law. Douthat said his own unique religious upbringing influenced him to write his book. “I grew up Episcopalian, but when I was about six or seven my mother was very sick and ended up attending some faith healing services, with guitars and singing, preaching and then people would come forward and would be prayed over,” he said. Eventually Douthat and his family converted to Catholicism. “I was very pleased to become a Catholic,” he said. “I was pleased to get the structure of Catholicism.” Douthat said he has an interesting perspective on religious life in America, specifically noting the parallel between his own religious experience and the American experience on a whole. “The church-switching we did in the search of the one true faith, that’s a pretty typical American phenomenon,” he said. “About 45 percent of Americans have switched.” Douthat said he chose to begin his book by examining the 1940s and 1950s because it was a period of convergence in American Christianity, one that was followed by steep decline in mainline church attendance. “I started the book in the 40s and 50s, the post-war revival of American life,” he said. “This was a period of mass religiosity, the intellectual rebirth of religion.” Douthat said right now in American religious life, tension lies between the traditionally religious and the religious freelancers. He discussed this in his book by addressing four themes. Currently, America is an extremely partisan country, regarding both religion and politics, Douthat said, and Americans have launched a movement for secular political reform. The second cause of the weakening of mainline religion, Douthat said, is the sexual revolution. “There isn’t that much to say, but it’s pretty obvious the ideals coming out of the sexual revolution do not mesh with Christian morals,” he said. “This is a social landscape where it is harder and harder to imagine a traditional Christian ethic.” Money is the third factor contributing to the downward trend of mainline Christianity, Douthat said. He said the Old Testament puts a heavy stress on the suspicion of wealth, which can be difficult to reconcile in a capitalist country like the United States. “There is a general sensibility that makes the New Testament emphasis on asceticism easier and easier for Americans to just set aside,” he said. “This [focus on wealth] has affected the ability of the church to attract people to the ministry … It seems like a much less attractive, lucrative and secure way of life.” Douthat said, globalization is the last cause of the decline of religion in America. “At the end of imperialism, it meant Christianity became more attractive [in former colonial nations],” he said. “That process undercut Christianity’s appeal in the West.”
The more than 400 first years settling into campus aren’t the only fresh faces at Saint Mary’s this fall. Erika Buhring has taken up post as the new director for the Office for Civic and Social Engagement (OCSE) and Experiential Learning Coordinator at the College. Buhring said her background attracted her to Saint Mary’s unique identity. “I’m a big believer in the private, liberal arts education,” she said. “I’ve lived in it, worked in it and I have a lot of respect for Saint Mary’s. I’m intrigued by the spirit of Saint Mary’s in that it is a women’s college.” Buhring, who graduated from Grinnell College in Iowa with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology, has years of experience with non-profit groups and various education organizations. She received her Master of Education and Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Illinois at Chicago before becoming an assistant professor at Concordia University Chicago. Prior to joining the faculty at Saint Mary’s, Buhring served as an assistant professor in the Educational Studies Department at Monmouth College in Illinois. Buhring said her experiences in the academic world will serve her well in her new position at the College. “I’m eager to learn what has been done before, but I’m also looking forward to creating new opportunities as we move forward,” she said. “My role is split between on- and off-campus work, and I find that very appealing.” Buhring’s role with the OCSE will focus especially on student-community relations. She said 70 percent of her work is with the Division of Mission, which involves various learning and volunteering opportunities. “I’m most looking forward to working with all of the students and getting them excited about working and learning about the community,” Buhring said. The remainder of Buhring’s role consists of working alongside and supporting the College’s faculty and staff, she said. “I am really excited to get to work with the faculty and all of their creativity,” she said. “I want to get people excited about integrated learning opportunities.” Buhring said she hopes the students and faculty who work with the OCSE will value the importance of volunteering in the community. She wants there to be a reciprocal relationship between the volunteers and the community, grounded in mutual support and collaborative learning, a relationship she believes will benefit students in the long term. “One of the biggest pushes I make is with students and getting them to have a connection between what they’re doing now, and how this work affects what they’re doing in the future,” she said. Buhring said the service and learning opportunities arranged by the office are intended to provide rich benefits to the volunteers, regardless of the type of work or group served. “I really like the idea of fostering the spirit of life-long learning,” she said. “Your work is not just for a grade. It is much bigger than that.”
Students in Web Design 1 and The First Amendment: Free Expression in the Digital Age are utilizing iPads – their only required course materials. Students can use their own iPads or lease one through the University for $70. Lenette Votava, director of internal marketing and communicationsfor the Office of Information Technologies (OIT), said the program is made possible through collaboration between OIT, the Registrar’s Office, the Financial Aid Office, the Office of Student Accounts, the Department of Art, Art History and Design, the Law School and the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore. Elliott Visconsi, professor of The First Amendment, said the $70 lease fee is the only cost associated with his course. His students use their iPads to access Apple Education tools such as iTunes U, iBooks and iBooks Author, all of which are available to them for free. Students also use their iPads to visit websites like Twitter and Google+ to continue conversation outside of the classroom. “We wanted all course content to be free,” Visconsi said. Visconsi said iPads and similar technologies help facilitate, rather than detract from, classroom learning. He considers this especially important in his class of 115 students. “I see technology as a suite of tools that can make a big class smaller and can give students an opportunity to learn through argument, collaboration and other social practices,” Visconsi said. Visconsi and his students worked together to create a free digital textbook using iBooks Author. The custom textbook has essays, videos, illustrations, infographics, cases and image galleries. Although the class also involves lectures, Visconsi said this digital textbook is “the heart of the course.” Visconsi and his students face occasional challenges with their iPads and initially had trouble setting them up. “I’m still getting used to walking around with my iPad in lecture and keep forgetting where I leave it,” he said. Overall, Visconsi said his students responded positively to using iPads. “The students seem to be enjoying the course, the textbook and the access to iPads,” Visconsi said. Students in Web Design 1 have found their iPads beneficial outside of the classroom. Senior Jordan Bai values the flexibility and convenience iPads offer. “I use [my iPad] for all of my notes and I can use it to show my portfolio in interviews,” she said. “It’s much lighter than carrying your laptop around.” Connor Sea, a senior, said his iPad is valuable in his other courses. “I use [my iPad] for other courses and I use it to read academic journals,” he said. Sea said he also appreciates the ability to read large files on his iPad without printing them. “It’s a greener way to do things because I am not wasting paper,” he said.
A Notre Dame student was robbed but not injured by two unidentified male suspects Thursday night while walking directly east of campus, according to an email sent from Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) on Friday morning.The robbery occurred as the student was walking on Vaness Street near Turtle Creek Court, according to the email. Irish Row Apartments are located on that part of Vaness Street.The email said the robbery occurred at approximately 10:45 p.m. after a midsized sedan approached the victim.“The victim was walking east when a brown or tan midsized sedan that he had observed driving slowly in the area pulled up in front of him,” the email stated. “Suspects exited the vehicle, approached the student, displayed a handgun and demanded the victim’s phone and money. The suspects returned to their vehicle and left the area traveling eastbound on Vaness toward South Bend Avenue.”The email said both NDSP and local police responded to the incident, and South Bend Police is investigating the crime. The email said the suspects were not apprehended.The suspects were described as black males in their late teens or early twenties and approximately six feet tall, the email said. The suspects were also described as wearing dark hooded sweatshirts.NDSP regularly patrols all areas of campus, and the email stated that they are making extra patrols of the perimeter of campus. In the email, the Office of Campus Safety said any suspicious activity should be reported immediately to NDSP.Tags: Crime, NDSP, police, robbery
Rosalie Riegle, an author and alumna of the Saint Mary’s class of 1959, spoke Tuesday about her life and journey with the Catholic Worker for the Collegiate Speaker Series sponsored by the Career Crossings Office, the Department of Communication Studies and the Cushwa-Leighton Library.Riegle said meeting Dorothy Day while working as a peace activist during the Vietnam War changed her life and initiated her activism in the Catholic Worker. She has written several oral histories of the Catholic Worker and one on Dorothy Day. She has also helped opened two Catholic Worker houses of hospitality.Studying theology and church history at Saint Mary’s College planted the seed which sparked her decision later in life to join the Catholic Worker, Riegle said.“The theology and church history just fascinated me because I just knew nothing about Catholicism,” she said. “My daily life and education has been secular, I had attended a public school as a teenager where I could always skip catechism. For many in my class, theology was same old same old; they had had 12 years of parish education. I just lapped it up.”After graduation, Riegle married, had children and began teaching as an English professor, but although her life seemed to be flourishing, her heart lay elsewhere, she said.“I was conflicted,” Riegle said. “My insides and outsides didn’t match and frankly sometimes at a parties I would feel really lonely. Lonely for community, to be with people who thought like I did, loneliness for likeminded souls.”Her husband’s disapproval of her activism in the Catholic Worker caused her to throw herself into other work, to keep her mind off of the movement and save her marriage she said.“For the next 15 or so years I buried my attraction deep inside a love of busyness, raising our four daughters, helping my husband become a judge, moving to a beautiful Georgian home in the suburbs and completing a doctorate at the University of Michigan,” Riegle said.She said she got the idea to write a book on the Catholic Worker one day when interviewing students; however, with her marriage breaking, she struggled with how she could become more involved in the movement she loved.“I found I had written myself into the movement, but I didn’t get it out of my head,” she said. “It became an increasingly uncomfortable ball in my throat, and I was pushed this way and that … The Catholic Worker became hot for me and my other interests became colder and colder. So when Sister Leona [Sullivan, a Catholic Worker based in Saginaw, Mich.] asked me to discuss forming a community, I jumped at the chance. We would provide hospitality to homeless women and children, I could do that.”Riegle said becoming a Catholic Worker and opening a hospitality house was God giving her what she needed.“Catholic Workers are not social workers, and they don’t need any training, in fact true Catholic Workers don’t work about changing people, we worry about changing ourselves,” Riegle said. “We named our community the mustard seeds … after much community preparation and sprucing up the house we moved in … For 10 years I lived with women from many different cultures, many of them suffering from addiction and neglect, all of them needed solace, food and shelter.”The Catholic Worker is where Riegle said she feels most at home.“The Catholic Worker is where my insides and outsides match, where I can live authentically,” Riegle said. “It’s definitely something I need and definitely something I didn’t know I needed when I was at Saint Mary’s or years later.“When I say matching insides and outsides, I mean its where my souls and my actions are the most in sync; notice I didn’t say perfectly in sync. I have always felt a bundle of contradictions, but I finally learned to be happy with those ambiguities, particularly the ones I can’t minimize or make disappear.”Riegle said it took her years discover her calling to the Catholic Worker and her advice to students was to discover their passions.“Don’t do what is expected; do what you like,” she said. If you want to do something, I hope you have the courage to do it.”Tags: Catholic Worker, Catholicism, religion, Rosie Riegle, saint mary’s, SMC
Caitlyn Jordan Saint Mary’s Career Crossings Office (CCO) hosted a discussion Wednesday evening titled, “Making a Difference in the World: Pursuing Post-Grad Service and Fellowships,” which featured two alumnae who graduated in 2011.Rachael Chesley, ’11, was accepted as a fellow and scholar in the prestigious Fulbright Program with the U.S. Department of State shortly after graduating. Chesley is currently the Employee Communications Manager with Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. in Chicago. The second alumna on the panel, Caroline Arness, ’11, was accepted to Teach for America (TFA). After serving as a fellow for three years, Arness is now working in a position with TFA as a recruitment associate based in Chicago.Each alumna discussed their respective programs and how they learned to cope with their responsibilities and expectations.Chesley said she was looking for an unconventional path to take after graduating from Saint Mary’s.“Coming out of college is the perfect time for thinking outside of the box,” Chesley said. “You only acquire more responsibilities as time goes on.”Chesley said her experience in the Fulbright Program brought her to Malaysia where she worked as an English teaching assistant.“I was always interested in an international experience,” she said.” “… It provided interesting challenges and opportunities.”In Malaysia, she put in 25 hours per week working with students in her local community. Chesley said she had to learn to quickly adapt to the culture.“I was placed in a rural Muslim community, which as a woman, I had to adapt and sacrifice parts of my own culture,” she said.Teaching posed challenges, as the students did not know how to say phrases as simple as ‘good morning’ in English, Chesley said. In response, she invested her time in the responsibility.“People want to think that the experience you’re having is very romanticized, and it’s not,” she said. “It is a very selfless action depending on the program, and it is important to have people to support you and to remind you why you are doing the experience.”Chesley said she needed to develop her capacity for patience in order to see the results in her students that she desired. It took several months to grow relationships with the students.“It was not until I was able to get them genuinely interested in who I was that we made ground in their active roles in the classes,” she said.During her time in Malaysia, Chesley also began a project of creating an English magazine with her students, she said.“I was really proud of my students for [producing the magazine] … which promoted school activities as well as what was going on in the community,” Chelsey said. “We would send it to the U.S embassy, [and it] really helped me to connect with them and get them interested.“With any post-grad service experience, you have to be open to adapt and accept and be tough-minded in your resolve with whatever can be thrown at you.”Arness had a similarly rewarding experience. She said TFA appealed to her because of the benefits it provided as well as the opportunity for service. Initially, Arness was placed in Charlotte, North Carolina, as a high school English teacher, she said.“I thought I was going to be Hilary Swank in ‘Freedom Writers,’” Arness said.But Arness was switched to teach science in a middle school shortly thereafter, she said.“I had to collaborate with other teachers, which created a huge resource exchange,” Arness said. “… There was a lot of learning and relearning. I was able to become a stronger teacher because, as my students were learning, I was as well.”Arness said her experience was most gratifying when she got to know her students.“I was involved in many after-school activities, such as an outdoors club,” she said. “It was beneficial to see them as genuine people and be involved with them outside of class.”Arness said it was important for her to define her own success, to make sure she was committed every day and to forgive herself for any mistakes she may have made, “realizing the bigger picture and remembering the mission of your program that is beyond you.”In committing to a post-graduate service program, it is essential to gather support groups and do the necessary research to know what is expected of participants, Arness said. By realizing the responsibilities of each program, one can get the most of the experience.“Who I am is very small in comparison to the impact I can make,” she said. Tags: Alumnae, Career Crossings Office, caroline arness, cco, fulbright program, making a difference in the world, postgraduate service and fellowships, rachael chesley, teach for america, tfa
Courtesy of Gwen O’Brien Sister Linda Bellemore (left) introduced South Bend resident Sheila Muhammad (center) and SMC senior Morgan Carroll. Carroll recorded and transcribed Muhammad’s life story for Muhammad’s children.Graduating senior Morgan Carroll will remember Saint Mary’s for her education and experiences, but most especially her connection with South Bend resident Sheila Muhammad.The interaction between Carroll and Muhammad started because of Muhammad’s desire to leave a written legacy for her family about her challenges and triumphs since she was first diagnosed with AIDS 25 years ago, according to a press release from the College.Muhammad expressed her wish to share her life’s story, her longtime friend Holy Cross Sister Linda Bellemore said. Bellemore then reached out to the College and assistant professor of communication studies Marne Austin, who taught a class about chronicling oral histories.When Austin told the class there was an opportunity for someone to document Muhammad’s story, Carroll and Faye Kennedy of Stillwater, Minnesota, who graduated in 2014 with a degree in business administration, volunteered.Muhammad lost her sight in 1995 due to CMV, or cytomegalovirus, which she may have contracted because of her compromised immune system. Muhammad said in the press release she wanted to leave a legacy for her three children and six grandchildren, as well as other people battling AIDS.“I wanted to leave something for my kids about my life and help others who have the virus and are dealing with the struggles I went through,” Muhammad said.Muhammad said a positive attitude keeps her going each day.“I try to keep positive. I put one foot in front of the other. My motto: ‘Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.’ I try everything. I am a fighter,” Muhammad said in the press release. “I’ve been employed by Sodexo at Holy Cross College for 12 years — I wash dishes. I try to be as normal as I can be. Losing my sight does not mean I lose my ability to work.”Carroll felt the desire to talk with Muhammad because of her own personal experience with vision problems. According to a college press release, Carroll was born with a condition that could have left her blind, if not for surgeries at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.“This experience has put my personal situation into perspective and helped me appreciate the vision I have been blessed with. Sheila is truly a role model in the way she lives her life despite the many challenges she faces,” Carroll said in a college press release. “I deeply appreciate all that she has [taught] me.”According to the press release, the project of chronicling Muhammad’s story left an impact on Carroll.“Each time I left Sheila’s house, I got a deeper understanding of how amazing she is. Her inspiring attitude and outlook lifted my spirits. She is one of the biggest inspirations in my time at Saint Mary’s,” Carroll said.Bellemore remembers the moment when Carroll and Kennedy presented Muhammad with the finished product, according to a College press release.“Witnessing Sheila’s excitement that her greatest wish for her anticipated short life was fulfilled, and hearing her expressed gratitude for a task that she had been unable to accomplish herself, confirmed for me that the mission of Saint Mary’s College is alive and impacting our world,” Bellemore said in the press release. “Indeed, these women were prepared to make a difference in the world and they already are.”Tags: Commencement 2015, Morgan Carroll, saint mary’s
Kathryne Robinson | The Observer Walsh Hall, pictured here, will undergo extensive renovations duringthe fall semester of 2016 and the spring semester of 2017. During thattime, Walsh residents will live in Pangborn Hall.On Jan. 13, the Division of Student Affairs sent an email alerting undergraduates of a new chapter in the housing system’s history. The email, signed by Vice President for Student Affairs Erin Hoffmann Harding, outlined dorm changes such as renovations, hall community relocations, and the opening of two new residence halls this fall.The email said the residential system is “a treasured and distinctive component of a Notre Dame education, and the University is dedicated to its continued vibrancy.” It listed overcrowding and the intention of advancing renovations as the main reasons for the dorm changes.As the first change as described by the email, the Pangborn Hall community and its rector, Sr. Mary Donnelly, will permanently move into the new women’s hall on the east side of campus.“This type of move will honor the personal relationships, traditions and strong sense of community that have been formed in Pangborn Hall and will continue to flourish among those same women in the new women’s residence hall,” Hoffmann Harding said in the email.Pangborn Hall resident and sophomore Allegra Wallingford said she thought the move would be positive overall for her dorm’s community.“I absolutely think these changes affect Pangborn residents positively, though some people were upset about the new location since it’s not close to South [Dining Hall],” Wallingford said. “I’m actually so excited to move to the new dorm. My hope is that the women of Pangborn transition well and become a larger, cohesive community with the other women who will live in the dorm.”Pangborn Hall resident and sophomore Caroline DeCorrevont said when the news broke, she initially witnessed an overwhelming excitement from the majority of the dorm’s residents.“I was excited about it from the start,” DeCorrevont said. “Mostly just because I know 20 years from now we can come back to campus and see this dorm that we were the first residents of.”While the Pangborn Hall community adjusts to a new building, the current Pangborn Hall building will be transformed into a “swing hall” for residents whose dorm building will be undergoing renovations. The first residents of this “swing hall” will be the Walsh community in the 2016-2017 school year and then Badin Hall in 2017-2018.Walsh Hall rector Liz Detwiler said she was excited at the announcement, emphasizing the building’s need for renovations.“When I was told that Walsh would receive a massive renovation on a scale that exceeded anything done before on this campus my initial reaction was relief,” Detwiler said in an email. “Walsh needs this renovation so badly, and I felt relieved that the University had heard my voice and the voices of Walsh women calling for building improvements.”Detwiler said that although she was excited Walsh would be restored to its original glory for future generations, the move would still be difficult due to the attachment the Walsh community had to the building.“It will take time for everyone to come to terms with their feelings about the temporary switch, but Walsh has always impressed me and I have every reason to believe we will rally and be even stronger,” she said. “We are a small community and this is a big moment for us and the only way I know how to do it is together. It’s how Walsh does everything: together.”According to the email sent to undergraduates, University leaders started a Residential Master Plan in 2006 and invested nearly 56 million dollars in renovations. Off-campus senior and former Walsh resident Erin Bishop said with a plan that was in the works for so many years, she wished she and the rest of the Walsh community would have received earlier notice.“The email was the first time anyone found out about it,” Bishop said. “While it would have been hard to hear in general, I think that coming from within the hall could have softened the blow slightly. I understand that the move is necessary for the future of Walsh, but I think the situation should have been handled much differently, especially if it’s been in the works since 2006.”Megan Ball, resident assistant and senior in Walsh Hall, said in an email that she is not worried about the move threatening Walsh’s close-knit community.“I think that it’s a great opportunity for Walsh to be renovated and made ready for the future,” Ball said. “Although the one-year ‘stay-cation’ won’t be glamorous, it’s a real opportunity for the Walsh community to demonstrate its tight bond and show that what makes our dorms here at Notre Dame is the people, not the building.”The second change for the upcoming school year will be the opening of the new men’s hall community, which will be led by current Carroll Hall rector Fr. Matt Kuczora. He said when he initially found out about his own move, he was shocked because he was still new to Carroll and had not finished his first semester as their rector. He said he found out right before Christmas break that he would be the new rector for the new dorm.“I’m really enjoying my time in Carroll, it’s a great dorm with wonderful traditions … and having to leave that after one year is going to be pretty tough,” Kuczora said. “However, they’re trying to build a community from the ground up and they needed a pastoral presence … to start something fresh.”Kuczora said becoming this new dorm’s rector was in line with his duty to be a priest for those in need. He said he saw a situation with people in need of a rector and it caught his eye.“I’m excited to deal with events in this new hall, get people excited, bring people together,” Kuczora said. “I want to encourage guys to take leadership and start things themselves.”Kuczora, a 2005 graduate of the University, was dance commissioner of St. Edward’s Hall during his sophomore year at Notre Dame and was instrumental to helping start the tradition of Yacht Dance. He said although it is unlikely that this new men’s dorm will also have their formal on a boat, he is excited about the idea of starting new traditions.“I’m looking for guys around campus who want to start something new and want to lay a foundation for a Notre Dame experience that can go on forever,” Kuczora said. “This is going to be historical and I’m looking forward to meeting guys who can do this kind of thing.”Tags: Carroll Hall, Pangborn Hall, Walsh Hall Interhall sports, signature events and mascots are just a few of the factors that contribute to the spirit and unique housing system at Notre Dame. With 29 residence halls, each possessing its own history, the housing system is one of the University’s most beloved traditions, and one that is about to change.
Countless kids grow up dreaming about starting their own companies. For Notre Dame graduates Joe Mueller and Federico Segura, that dream has become a reality since they co-founded Grain — a mobile app that connects family and friends in the realm of personal finance.Mueller and Segura both studied business at Notre Dame, gaining experience and insight through classes, research projects and entrepreneurial lectures. They graduated in 2015 and now work out of Silicon Valley — Mueller as the CEO and Segura, the chief financial officer (CFO).“I had to be a self-starter and forge my own trails when learning how to invest in stocks UK,” Mueller said. “You don’t know what’s going to happen even two, three, four months down the road.”Using the computing power of IBM’s Watson, Grain is able to take keyword inputs from everyday life, like “solar power,” and turn them into related investment ideas, such as “Solar City stock,” for a portfolio. By connecting to a social network, the app’s users can share ideas and compare company performances with people they trust in a welcoming center, Mueller said. “We saw a disconnection between our studies and personal finance, and we wanted to help friends and family to bridge that gap,” Mueller said. Through the Mendoza-sponsored Shark Tank event and Notre Dame’s annual McCloskey Business Plan Competition, the co-founders were able to develop Grain from an idea into a viable platform.Mueller said the company name of Grain originated from the story of the ancient Indian minister Sessa, who is sometimes credited as the inventor of chess. The story goes that as a reward for inventing chess, an Indian ruler granted Sessa a request, to which Sessa responded by asking the ruler to give him a grain of wheat for the first square of the chessboard, two for the second, four for the third and so on — doubling the number of grains for each successive square. The ruler agreed, not realizing the sum of all the grains would result in an enormous heap. Mueller said they took the same idea to personal finance, where the stock market enables a small initial investment to grow tremendously over time. According to Mueller, Grain joins friends and family together by allowing them to track each other’s investment decisions. It also has a virtual stock market users can practice with before linking to an actual brokerage account to make real trades — thus allowing people to familiarize themselves and gain confidence in the market by gradually easing into investing. Mueller said users are also able to invest at their own pace without feeling pressured or overwhelmed. For aspiring entrepreneurs, Mueller has some advice.“Don’t be afraid to reach out for help and find resources to put you on the right path,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to just go for it.”Nearing the completion of its Beta phase, Grain is set to officially release on the iOS App Store on Friday.Tags: Grain, iOS apps, personal finance