McHugh's Restaurants Gift Provides Internship Opportunities for Central Illinois Students

Author: Nicholas Swisher

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McHugh's Restaurants of Mattoon and Charleston, Ill. is sponsoring three high school or community college students from Coles County, Ill. to intern at the University of Notre Dame’s Innovation Lab this summer. 

“This partnership will provide an exciting opportunity to train young innovators and entrepreneurs that will contribute to the burgeoning Coles County innovation ecosystem, and ultimately help create new Central Illinois businesses,” said Matt Leevy, director of Notre Dame’s Innovation Lab.

The Innovation Lab helps entrepreneurs, inventors and researchers translate their ideas into tangible products through design help and prototyping. Since its founding in early 2018, the lab has helped launch a diverse collection of successful startups and products. It has dozens of pieces of equipment often needed by startups and entrepreneurs including three professional-grade 3D printers, two industrial laser cutters, and nearly a dozen high-speed computers with CAD software.

McHughs Restaurants can be found on Illinois Route 16 in both Mattoon and Charleston.  This locally owned unique double drive-thru restaurant has been a staple in the area for the past 30 years. Its owners are dedicated to the development and advancement of this area's citizens in many ways. 

"We are thrilled to support the next generation of Innovators in Coles County as they cross-train at prestigious institutions like Notre Dame and return to our community where they can seed entrepreneurial ideas in our growing business ecosystem,” said Tom McHugh, owner and president of McHugh's Restaurants.

As part of McHugh's Restaurants’ gift, Carlos Ortega, Executive Director of Elevate CCIC, Inc. in Mattoon, Ill., and Vincent Walk, class instructor and teacher at Mattoon High School, will be facilitating the recruitment of students and providing resources and programs to the selected interns upon completion of their internship.

"It is exceedingly rare for students from Central Illinois to have this type of opportunity, and Elevate CCIC, Inc. is excited to have local business leaders like Tom McHugh provide seed funding to enable collaboration with Notre Dame I-Lab,” said Ortega. “Over time, this interaction will drive impactful economic change through enriching the local talent pool of skilled innovators."

The three paid internships for Coles County, Ill. students at Notre Dame will last eight weeks and begin in June. By the end of the internship program, the selected students will have become certified SolidWorks Associates and will have launched a new product-based company. Upon their return to Central Illinois, Elevate CCIC, Inc. will provide the students with a space to work and help formalize their new companies into more fully-fledged businesses.