Reilly Center Announces its Dual-Degree Scholars for 2014

Author: Melinda Gormley

The Reilly Center announced its Dual-Degree (DD) Reilly Scholars for 2014 on Friday, April 5 at the annual spring gathering. The dual-degree program requires undergraduate students to complete two majors selecting one from the College of Engineering and another from the College of Art and Letters. It’s a commitment that requires students to spend five years at the University of Notre Dame. The Reilly Scholars Award recognizes three to four rising fifth-year students who while pursuing two majors have found ways to merge their two degrees. It is the greatest honor that the Reilly Center offers to Dual-Degree students and comes with official honors at commencement and a $1,000 award.

Awardees exemplify the highest ideals of the dual-degree program because they are using both degrees in their present endeavors and have their sights on fusing the two degrees in their future careers.


Michael “Mitch” S. Kochanski will graduate with a B.A. in Political Science and B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. Skilled at the technical work required of an engineering degree and passionate about social issues, Mitch seeks a consulting career in education policy. From August to December 2011 Mitch interned with the House of Commons in London and is currently a student teacher with Take Ten: Nonviolence Education.


A. James Schmidt entered the dual-degree program at the beginning of his senior year intent on adding a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering to B.A.s in Mathematics and Philosophy. James believes an engineering degree will expand his career options and allow him to reach his personal and career goals. He acknowledges that without the Reilly Center’s financial support during his fifth year, the DD program would likely have been impossible.

Jonathan Schommer

Jonathan Schommer will graduate with a B.A. from the Program in Liberal Studies and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering. Jon regularly performs charitable work. Last summer he volunteered in India with Daya Dan home for orphans with physical and mental disabilities and with Kalighat Nirmal Hriday home for the dying.

Vanessa Steger

Vanessa Steger seeks a B.A. in History and B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and strives to comprehend the function and impacts of technologies in society. Big questions at the intersection of ethics and engineering captivate Vanessa, such as “what will happen to humanity if we perfect genetic engineering techniques?” and “what capabilities would total war bring about in mechanizing humans and improving machines?”

The Reilly Center promotes the advancement of science and technology for the common good while addressing the ethical, social, legal, and policy implications of science and engineering. Benefactor Jack Reilly attended the event. Mr. Reilly is a 1964 dual-degree alumnus himself who, in 1985, donated money to start the John J. Reilly Center in his father’s name. His donation funds the Dual-Degree Scholars Award and pays for many DD students’ fifth year at Notre Dame.

Craig Simon

Invited speaker Craig Simon, President and CEO of FedEx Supply Chain and Dual-Degree alum (1988), reflected on the value that his DD in engineering and history has had in his career. He credits Notre Dame for instilling in him a strong moral character and the DD program for cultivating both his analytical and communication skills. Simon’s talk conveyed to the students: “Be confident and strive for something that goes beyond your job and yourself.”

To learn more about the Reilly Center's Dual-Degree Arts & Letters/Engineering program, click here.
To see past Reilly Scholars, click here.