Notre Dame App Challenge

Welcome to the ND App Challenge!

The Notre Dame App Challenge is a first-ever event to give anyone on campus—students, faculty and staff—the chance to build their app from concept to reality, get real-world help refining their idea, and compete for over $10,000 in prizes. The Challenge starts September 12th, 2016, will conclude in March 2017, and is open to all Notre Dame students, faculty and staff at Notre Dame.

“I now ask all of you to join me in supporting these collaborative efforts to advance our vision of Notre Dame as a powerful force to heal, unify, and enlighten our world.” — Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., President, University of Notre Dame

Drawing from Fr. Jenkins’ charge to “advance our vision of Notre Dame as a powerful force to heal, unify, and enlighten our world”, ideas submitted for the Challenge should build their idea around one or more of these three goals.

The best part? You don’t need to have any experience programming or building apps. All you need is one great idea.

Challenge Schedule

Round 1 — Idea Submission
September 12-September 23 Ideas accepted Registration has closed
September 26-30 Judging committee reviews ideas and selects 20 to advance
October 2 20 advancing teams announced at AT&T Hackathon 23 teams were chosen to advance; see which ones here.
Round 2 — Prototyping
October 3-December 4 Round 2 teams prototype their idea with help of ND experts
December 2 Poster Day
December 9 December 13 Judging committee reviews and selects 3 teams to advance 4 teams were selected to advance
Round 3 — Design/Build
December 9-March 29 Round 3 teams design/build their idea with student developers
March 29th Final presentations and prizes awarded


Prizes will be awarded for the three teams that make it to the third and final round. Student, staff and faculty submissions are eligible for all three rounds, but only students are eligible to win the 1st place prize. Prizes in the final around are:

  • 1st place individual/team: $7,500
  • 2nd place individual/team: $2,000
  • 3rd place individual/team: $1,000

Participation Requirements

The Challenge is open to any student, staff or faculty member at the University of Notre Dame’s main campus. Ideas may be submitted by individuals or by teams of up to 4 people; however, teams must be comprised of only students or only staff and faculty; a student may not be on the same team as staff and faculty. Each student team may seek mentorship from a faculty or staff member, but that mentor is not allowed to contribute material work on behalf of the team.

Challenge Structure

The App Challenge operates on a three-round model. Round 1 is open to anyone at the main Notre Dame campus and involves the submission of ideas. A committee of judges chosen from across campus will then select 20 submissions to proceed to Round 2, which involves working with those chosen submissions to prototype and refine the app ideas. These 20 semi-finalist ideas will get time working with experts from across campus in areas including user experience, interface design, intellectual property, technical feasibility and information security. Even if an idea does not progress to the final round, this is an amazing opportunity to get help refining your idea. These sessions are not mandatory, but very highly recommended.

The judging committee will then select three finalists to proceed to Round 3, in which each of the three finalists is paired with student developers hired by Notre Dame to design and build the a minimum viable product of each finalist idea into a real native or web app (depending on the content and customer needs). At the end of Round 3, each finalist will present their app to the judging committee during a public presentation, and the committee will choose the grand prize winner.

Judging Process

During each phase of the Challenge, each entry will be judged using the same weighted criteria:

35% Embracement of at least one of the three App Challenge themes, each of which signify the University’s missionheal, unify, and enlighten. Heal and unify broadly refer to actions that can help a broken world heal itself, act justly, work to heal others and bring people together to discuss, debate and share. Enlighten broadly refers to the process and service of education, bringing knowledge to the world, and sharing information such that others can benefit from it.
20% Completeness of work – polished user interface; no obvious unfinished functionality.
15% Uniqueness – how original is this idea? Is this a solution that has not yet been addressed, or uses an existing idea in a new and novel way?
15% Significance of the problem solved – Is this addressing a large issue?
15% Broad appeal – How many people could be positively impacted by this? Does it have applicability beyond Notre Dame?

Questions? Check out the FAQ.