Dean Geoff Orsak named president of the University of Tulsa

Geoffrey Orsak

Dean Geoff Orsak named president of the University of Tulsa

Geoffrey Orsak, dean of SMU's Lyle School of EngineeringGeoffrey Orsak, dean of SMU’s Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering for the past 8 years, will become president of the University of Tulsa on July 1, 2012.

The University of Tulsa Board of Trustees announced that Orsak will be their university’s 18th president, succeeding Steadman Upham, who is retiring. The University of Tulsa provides undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees in the arts, humanities, sciences, business, education, engineering, law, nursing and applied health sciences. Current enrollment is 4,092.

“Under the leadership of Dean Geoffrey Orsak, the Lyle School of Engineering has established new academic programs, constructed new buildings and helped K-12 school districts prepare students for collegiate engineering studies,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Most of all, he defined and educated a new type of engineer, one who combines technology with a sense of social responsibility. We look forward to watching him lead the University of Tulsa with the same innovative thinking and creativity that he has exhibited at SMU.”

“In his time leading the Lyle School of Engineering at SMU, Geoffrey Orsak has forged a bold vision for engineering education that has been felt around our nation,” said Paul Ludden, SMU provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “He has attracted outstanding faculty to our campus, and they in turn continue to attract top undergraduate and graduate students to our University.  It goes without saying that we will miss Dean Orsak, but we know that he will bring great vision and energy to his new role as president of Tulsa University. We congratulate Dean Orsak and Tulsa.”

Orsak joined SMU as associate professor of electrical engineering in 1997. He was named associate dean for research and development for the Lyle School in May 2001, and became dean in March 2004. Prior to coming to SMU, Orsak was associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at George Mason University, where he also served as a presidential fellow.

Orsak received his B.S.E.E., M.E.E. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical and computer engineering from Rice University.

“I have absolutely loved serving this great university,” Orsak said. “The excitement of leading the Lyle School of Engineering has been the greatest professional experience of my life. While we have accomplished so much in such a short period of time, there is no doubt that the Lyle School’s greatest days are ahead.”

Undergraduate enrollment in the Lyle School has increased by more than 400 percent while Orsak has been dean, and the percentage of women engineering students in the Lyle School is now about twice the national average, thanks to programs such as the school’s Gender Parity Initiative. The southeastern section of the campus has seen major build-out during Orsak’s tenure, including the construction of the Jerry Junkins Engineering Building, the J. Lindsey Embrey Engineering Building and Caruth Hall.

Orsak’s key accomplishments while on the Hilltop include the establishment of three institutes and centers:

  • The Caruth Institute for Engineering Education, which oversees multiple programs aimed at increasing interest (and the pursuit of careers) in engineering for K-12 students, including Visioneering and the Infinity Project.
  • The Hunter and Stephanie Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity, which combines engineering, science, business, international development and global economics to seek market-based solutions to improve the standard of living for those living in extreme poverty.
  • The Hart Center for Engineering Leadership, which provides multiple opportunities to immediately practice leadership skills through co-op and internship programs, leadership seminars and workshops, community engagement projects and mentoring relationships.

Orsak also established at SMU’s Lyle School the first university partnership with the Lockheed Martin SkunkWorks®, which provides SMU engineering students with challenging, immersive design and prototyping experiences under an innovative team approach to problem solving.

Written by Kimberly Cobb

> Read the full story from SMU News

May 3, 2012|For the Record, News|

Engineering professor Joe Camp wins 2012 NSF career award

Joseph CampJoseph Camp of SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering has earned a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award, given to junior faculty members who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding researchexcellent education and the integration of education and research in American colleges and universities.

Camp, assistant professor and J. Lindsay Embrey Trustee Professor of Electrical Engineering, will receive $450,000 over the next 5 years to fund research toward improved wireless network design incorporating low frequencies previously occupied by analog TV signals.

“The FCC has recently reassigned the frequency bands that were previously used by analog TV – that’s why viewers were forced to switch to an analog-to-digital converter,” Camp said. “It opened up a large portion of bandwidth for data communications, creating opportunities for innovative wireless network design.”

Transmission range improves at lower frequencies, as does as the ability of the signal to cut through obstacles, which makes these newly available frequency bands highly desirable for internet transmission. Being able to establish wireless networks with fewer transmission towers could result in lowering the cost of service delivery in some cases.

“Alongside these policy changes, wireless hardware is becoming increasingly complex and capable of supporting more bands,” Camp said. “As a result, the simple question becomes, ‘How do we use the simultaneous access to many different types of frequency bands to improve wireless network performance?’”

The NSF is the funding source for approximately 20 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. In the past few decades, NSF-funded researchers have won more than 180 Nobel Prizes.

“Joe’s highly competitive NSF award recognizes the extraordinary value of his work and his commitment to share his discoveries and knowledge with students,” said Lyle Dean Geoffrey Orsak. “We are fortunate to have him at the Lyle School and very proud that Joe represents the sixth NSF CAREER awardee on our faculty. Given the small size of our faculty, this is a remarkably strong showing.”

> Read more from SMU News
> Visit SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering homepage

February 24, 2012|For the Record, News|

Lyle School to offer Master’s in Sustainability & Development

The Pallet House prototype by I-Beam Design
The Pallet House prototype created by I-Beam Design was featured in HRH Prince Charles’ Royal Gardens as part of an exhibition on sustainable design. The inspiration for the Pallet House Project came from the fact that 84% of the world’s refugees could be housed with a year’s supply of recycled American pallets. (Photo courtesy of I-Beam Design)

It’s going to take more than engineering to build a world of sustainable cities. That’s the challenge behind a new Master’s degree from SMU’s Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering that is already drawing multi-industry leaders to the intersection of engineering design, urban planning and environmental policy.

The Master of Arts in Sustainability and Development will be offered beginning in January 2012 through the Lyle School, with support from the Hunter & Stephanie Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity.

The Lyle School and the Hunt Institute will kick off the new degree program Friday, Dec. 9, with a special mid-day program featuring renowned London urban sustainability strategist Peter Bishop and the unveiling of an innovative, low-cost “pallet house” previously featured at a sustainability expo hosted by the Prince of Wales.

“The world’s population just hit 7 billion,” said Lyle School Dean Geoffrey Orsak. “The need to build livable, sustainable cities has moved beyond the critical stage. This new degree program creates a framework for partnerships between engineers and the architects, city planners and environmental policy experts needed to ensure the cities can thrive in the face of so many challenges.”

“With this population growth comes a tremendous strain on non-renewable resources, infrastructure, and energy sources,” said Betsy del Monte, SMU Lyle adjunct professor, and principal and director of sustainability at the Beck Group. “Providing access to clean water, clean air, housing, and transportation will shape public policy, redefine business, and engage a generation.”

Students pursuing the Master of Arts in Sustainability and Development will complete a 30-hour interdisciplinary program that will cover sustainability-related topics from policy to design in both developed and developing worlds.  The program will advance the wise use of environmental resources in urban development, with a goal of creating and re-building economically and environmentally healthy cities, both here and abroad.

The program offered through the Lyle School’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Department will incorporate studies in:

  • Re-use and redevelopment
  • Urban transportation systems
  • Modernization of existing structures
  • Waste and sanitation

Classes begin in January 2012. Applications are now being accepted at smu.edu/lyle.

– Written by Kimberly Cobb

> Get the full story from SMU News
> Visit the Lyle School of Engineering homepage
> Learn more about the Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity

December 8, 2011|News|

Research Spotlight: Seeking solutions for unsafe water

Supported by a $270,000 grant from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and additional SMU funds, faculty member Andrew Quicksall and his graduate students in the University’s Lyle School of Engineering are collecting water samples in UNHCR refugee camps, bringing samples back to SMU for analysis, and training workers in and around the camps to test water supplies.

The group will integrate information from multiple sources to develop a database that will help UNHCR planners provide safer drinking water in existing and future camps.

“They’ve asked us to build out a whole picture, truly worldwide, for what’s in the drinking water in refugee camps,” said Quicksall, J. Lindsay Embrey Trustee Assistant Professor in the Lyle School. “So we’re going to go on-site, collect water, analyze some in the field and bring quite a bit of water back to our SMU laboratories and get a full picture.”

The database developed by Quicksall’s group will identify contaminants in drinking water and allow UNHCR officials to track water quality in the camps over time. Some water quality problems are indigenous to the regions where the camps are situated, some develop over time, and some are the nearly instant consequence of thousands of people collecting in unsuitable locations to escape war and famine faster than sanitary infrastructure can be built.

For example, the agreement with UNHCR commits Quicksall’s team to investigate critical water issues in Dadaab, Kenya – home to the largest refugee complex in the world. Nearly half a million people are concentrated in three camps there, many living in makeshift shelters of twigs, reeds and scraps. Refugees pouring across the border to escape war and famine in Somalia continue to face shortages of food, water, shelter and sanitation hazards there.

“The technical challenges of supporting refugee populations of this size will require that our teams stay engaged with the UNHCR for years to come,” said Geoffrey Orsak, dean of the SMU Lyle School of Engineering. “Fortunately, our new Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity makes it possible to lead efforts of this magnitude nearly anywhere on the globe.”

Some camps have safe drinking water available, but the taste is so off-putting that residents seek out other sources. In Nakivale, Uganda, for example, the high iron content in well water drives refugees to drink surface water that is frequently contaminated with coliform bacteria. Quicksall’s group also will investigate methods of improving the taste of such safe, but unpalatable, drinking water.

Preliminary research results have revealed problematic concentrations of iodide in drinking water at Dadaab and fluoride in both Southern Uganda and Kakukma, Kenya. Some types of contaminants may not create problems short-term, Quicksall explains, but create severe health issues for people over the long term – particularly children and the elderly. His study group will have the opportunity to both recommend and implement remediation methods for those problem water sources, he said.

“To work with the science in the lab and see it applied internationally — I don’t think there is an opportunity like this anywhere else,” said graduate student Drew Aleto, a member of Quicksall’s study team.

Written by Kimberly Cobb

> Read the full story at the SMU Research blog

November 3, 2011|Research|

Major General, Civil & Environmental Engineering chair leaving SMU

Jeffrey W. Talley will join innovative technologies company and Johns Hopkins

Maj. Gen. Jeffrey W. TalleyAcclaimed general and engineering professor Jeffrey W. Talley will leave SMU Aug. 31, 2011 to begin new duties as President and CEO of Environmental Technologies Solutions (ETS). ETS is an engineering, research and services limited liability company (LLC) that develops and commercializes innovative technologies to benefit society and the environment. ETS consists of a combination of subsidiary companies and joint ventures around the globe, predominantly organized around new technical products and associated services.

At SMU, Talley is Professor and Chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the Bobby B. Lyle Professor of Leadership and Global Entrepreneurship and the Founding Director of the Hunter and Stephanie Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity.

“Jeffrey Talley is an engineer who has made important contributions to our country, particularly as an Army officer in Iraq working to provide the infrastructure needed for peace and hope,” said Geoffrey Orsak, dean of SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering. “We thank him for his service to SMU and wish him well as he takes this wonderful opportunity to lead ETS in areas of great importance.”

Prior to his appointment at SMU, Talley was on faculty at the University of Notre Dame. He has more than 29 years in various academic, design, consulting and military positions involving hundreds of different environmental sites and business projects throughout the U.S. and abroad.

Talley will continue his academic activities as an Adjunct Professor at The Johns Hopkins University. At Johns Hopkins, Talley will teach and conduct research in environmental engineering, engineering for sustainability development and entrepreneurship associated with technology. He also will continue his global work integrating engineering and business as part of social entrepreneurship in disadvantaged communities. Talley will retain his duties as a Major General in the Army Reserve as Commanding General, 84th Training Command, Fort Knox, Kentucky.

Talley received his Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. He also holds multiple master’s degrees in environmental engineering and science, strategic studies, liberal arts (history and philosophy) and religious studies. He currently is completing his Executive M.B.A. at the University of Oxford. Talley is a registered professional engineer (P.E.) in environmental engineering, a board certified environmental engineer (BCEE) in environmental sustainability and a diplomate, water resources engineer (D.WRE).

May 18, 2011|News|
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