Kimberly Cobb

SMU Lyle to offer first-of-its-kind graduate degree in datacenter systems engineering

Stock photo of an engineer in a datacenter's server farmSMU’s Lyle School of Engineering has created a new Master of Science in datacenter systems engineering, the first of its kind in the United States. The first students in this multidisciplinary program will be admitted for the Fall 2014 term.

The program is open to full-time and part-time graduate students, and is available on the Dallas campus as well as through the Lyle School’s distance education program. Enrollment is expected from current professionals in industry and government, as well as undergraduates in engineering, science, mathematics and business preparing to enter the field for the first time.

At least four million workers currently are associated with datacenter operations, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, and the number is expected to increase by 800,000 in 2016, and by an additional 2 million by 2018.  Approximately 70 percent of these workers will have Bachelor’s degrees or higher.

“Our society has become intimately linked to a variety of digital networks including social media, search engines, e-commerce, gaming and big data,” said Lyle Dean Marc Christensen. “Data center design is a fascinating challenge due to the millions of dollars lost per second of outage. The proper management and design of these datacenters require a diverse combination of highly specialized skills, and SMU Lyle is uniquely positioned to offer a degree that will connect all the needed technical disciplines.”

The new degree is built around five core courses that address the industry broadly, while offering elective specializations in three technical areas:

  • Facilities, infrastructure and subsystems
  • Datasystems engineering and analytics
  • Computer networks, virtualization, security and cloud computing

The program is directed toward preparing professionals for a leadership role in the field, whether specifically as a technical contributor or more broadly in management. The degree is designed to build a solid foundation for continued professional growth consistent with modern datacenter engineering practices and the changes that lie ahead for the industry.

Written by Kimberly Cobb

> Read the full story from SMU News

National expert to lead broad cybersecurity initiative at SMU

Fred ChangFrederick R. Chang, a recognized national expert in cyber security, has joined SMU to develop a multidisciplinary program aimed at tackling the most pressing cyber challenges facing individuals, business and government today.

Chang, whose career includes leadership positions in academia, business, and in government at the National Security Agency, is the new Bobby B. Lyle Endowed Centennial Distinguished Chair in Cyber Security. The position is made possible by a financial commitment from SMU trustee and longtime benefactor Bobby B. Lyle, for whom SMU’s engineering school is named.

> More about Fred Chang from SMU News

SMU’s first Centennial Distinguished Chair provides a faculty position endowed at $2.5 million, plus start-up funding of $1 million for the first five years to provide immediate support for the position and related research. The establishment of a Centennial endowment is available only to donors during the SMU Centennial commemoration, March 1, 2011, through Dec. 31, 2015.

In addition to holding the Lyle Chair, Chang also will be a professor of computer science in the Lyle School of Engineering and a senior fellow in the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. His appointments to positions in both the Lyle School and Dedman College reflect the interdisciplinary approach he believes is key to effective cyber research.

“Economic and national security are bedrock issues for our country,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Dr. Chang is prepared to take advantage of the University’s commitment to education, research and dialogue to deal with these critical issues, and will bring to the table students and faculty in all disciplines to find solutions. We are delighted to welcome him to SMU, where our students fully expect to be world changers.”

Network World: Cybercrime service automates creation of fake IDs, other verification documents

Chang has aggressive objectives to:

  • Conduct broad programs of research aimed both at creating a science of cyber security and addressing national cyber security priorities.
  • Apply an interdisciplinary approach to challenging problems, incorporating elements from disciplines not traditionally associated with cyber security such as law, business and the social sciences.
  • Help close the skills gap in cyber security by educating and tapping the innovation capabilities of SMU students to meet the demand for trained cyber professionals.

“Professor Chang arrives at SMU Lyle at an important moment,” said Lyle School Dean Marc Christensen. “The impact of cyber crime and cyber terrorism cannot be overstated. As Professor Chang joins SMU Lyle to lead our already strong cyber security researchers, he is poised to make a notable difference in this arena. We will be educating a generation of SMU graduates who understand the complexities of cyber-related issues whether their degree is in computer science or philosophy.  These students will be better suited to live, work, and play in the modern interconnected world.”

Chang served as the director of research at the National Security Agency (NSA) in 2005-06, where he was awarded the NSA Director’s Distinguished Service Medal. In addition, he has held several senior executive positions at SBC Communications, prestigious positions at both the University Texas at Austin and the University of Texas at San Antonio, and was most recently president and chief operating officer of 21CT Inc., an advanced intelligence analytics solutions company in Austin.

Learn more about Dr. Chang’s CV

“Dr. Chang’s experience at the highest levels of government, industry, and academia has given him a unique perspective on the cyber security landscape,” said Paul Ludden, SMU provost and vice president for academic affairs. “He has influenced the national dialogue and policies on cyber security through his work at the NSA, his testimony before congressional committees, and his presence on academic and industrial advisory boards as well as his peer journal editorial board work. He will continue that influence at SMU.”

“It is an honor and a privilege for me to have the opportunity to join SMU at this crucial time in the evolution of cyber security,” Chang said. “From the Lyle School of Engineering, to the Tower Center for Political Studies and across campus, I feel a tremendous sense of chemistry and collegiality here. There is also a sense of urgency, purpose and mission that is especially appealing. To be part of this is tremendously exciting to me.”

Written by Kimberly Cobb

> Read more of this story from SMU News

SMU hosts series of sustainability events throughout April 2013

Poster art for YERT: Your Environmental Road TripFree campus screenings of two popular environmental documentaries April 4-5 and the return of SMU’s Engineering and Humanity Week April 6-12 are highlights of a month of sustainability-themed events that will underscore the celebration of Earth Day 2013 on Monday, April 22.

Living With the Trinity, showing at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 4 in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Forum, focuses on the political history surrounding management of the Trinity River. The screening will feature an introduction by writer, producer and director Rob Tranchin.

YERT: Your Environmental Road Trip shows at 7 p.m. Friday, April 5, in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theater. The film takes a humorous cross-country look at environmental issues through the eyes of three friends travelling together. Both screenings are sponsored by SMU’s Sustainability Committee and Friends of the SMU Libraries.

The “Barefoot on the Boulevard” sustainability and music festival runs from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 6 on the Bishop Boulevard lawn. Also free and open to the public, “Barefoot” will feature a short talk and concert at 4:30 p.m. by former Sudanese child soldier and hip-hop humanitarian Emmanuel Jal, whose appearance is being made possible by the organizers of Engineering & Humanity Week.

> TIME Magazine: 10 Questions: Emmanuel Jal

Sponsored by Students For a Better Society and the SMU Sustainability Committee, “Barefoot on the Boulevard” will include economically priced food, booths featuring environmental organizations and vendors, and student music acts including the Southern Gentlemen, JSpear, Sean Hadeler, Adam the Bard, Chris Escarfullery, Sudie and Dan Howard.

David de Rothschild

Adventurer and environmentalist David de Rothschild brings the Plastiki, an experimental sailing vessel made of reclaimed bottles, to Dallas for SMU’s 2013 Engineering and Humanity Week.

Engineering & Humanity Week will bring global solution seekers to Dallas and SMU around the theme of “Water: Ripple Effects.” Among the highlights is a visit from the Plastiki – a unique sailing vessel made of reclaimed plastic drink bottles. Engineering & Humanity Week honors its captain, David de Rothschild, with the 2013 Visionary Award at a dinner and reception in Fair Park’s Centennial Hall on Saturday, April 6.

Emmanuel Jal will also be honored at the dinner with the E&H Week Humanitarian Award and will perform his international hit, “We Want Peace,” accompanied by student musicians from SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts. The 6 p.m. dinner is open to the public, and tickets may be purchased at eandhweek2013.eventbrite.com.

> National Geographic Explorers: David de Rothschild, Environmental Storyteller

Most of the program is scheduled for the SMU campus and is free and open to the public – such as the outdoor, interactive water distribution camp that mimics sites in refugee camps. “The Water Tap” (pictured below) on April 9-10 will allow both the SMU community and visitors to learn about and try solutions for problems of water scarcity and sanitation in the developing world. E&H Week is sponsored by Hunter and Stephanie Hunt, SMU’s Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity and the University of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Center.

Written by Kimberly Cobb

> Learn more from SMU News

SMU event: What memoirs reveal about the Bush Administration

Melvin Leffler

Historian Melvin Leffler will discuss the evolving story of the George W. Bush administration at SMU Friday, Feb. 1, 2013.

One of the nation’s foremost diplomatic historians will use the memoirs produced by members of George W. Bush’s administration to analyze foreign policy shaped by the 43rd president in the post-9/11 world.

Melvin Leffler, the Edward R. Stettinius Chair of Modern American History at the University of Virginia, will speak from 5-7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1 in Jones Great Hall, Meadows Museum. The lecture is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Add your name to the waiting list.

Leffler’s lecture will focus on what the memoirs reveal about the motives, goals, and decision-making processes of the Bush administration. The event is the second produced by SMU’s new Center for Presidential History.

“As for disagreements, I shall highlight the discord in the memoirs over the basic questions of whether officials felt that Iraq was contained and whether they thought that military action made sense,” Leffler said. “Some officials felt that Saddam was contained; others felt he was a looming threat. Some felt that war against Iraq made sense; others felt that the dangers of war might exceed the benefits.”

Written by Kimberly Cobb

Learn more at the SMU Center for Presidential History homepage
> Visit the CPH on Facebook 

TEDxSMU 2012 offers live webcasts Nov. 30-Dec. 1

TEDxSMU and its companion event, TEDxKids @SMU, return for another celebration of “Ideas Worth Spreading” Nov. 30-Dec. 1, 2012, in a new and larger venue: Dallas City Performance Hall. Both events will be streamed live as free webcasts from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the TEDxSMU website.

Speakers include New York Times Magazine-lauded playwright and Meadows Prize winner Will Power, PBS KIDS marketing guru Lesli Rotenberg, “Pay It Forward” leader Charley Johnson and dozens of other speakers.

The TEDxSMU program is built around rapid-fire, highly visual talks and performances, all wrapped around a theme this year of re:THINK. Among the presenters is Christian Genco of Colleyville, Texas – an SMU senior computer science major who has created a unique experiment in playing music by sampling various foods. Genco will be a presenter at both TEDxSMU and TEDxKids @SMU. Click the YouTube screen to watch him play The Star-Spangled Banner with fruits, vegetables and a beverage straw, or click this link to see Christian Genco’s performance in a new window.

“We are just pumped about the speakers and topics this year,” said TEDxSMU Executive Director Sharon Lyle. “This is our fourth year, now, and we can track real change in the Dallas area tied to people who were inspired to act after attending TEDxSMU. I can’t tell you how exciting that is.”

Tickets sales for TEDxSMU 2012 are closed, but the live-stream is free and designed to help the conversations that start at TEDxSMU get bigger, travel further and find new audiences.

Written by Kimberly Cobb

> Read the full story from SMU News
> Watch TEDxKids @SMU live Nov. 30, 2012
> Watch TEDxSMU live Dec. 1, 2012

SMU panel to explore the history (and future) of privacy Oct. 31, 2012

A panel of SMU faculty members from a wide range of disciplines will examine the history of and emerging ramifications for the concept of privacy in the 21st century at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31, in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center West Ballroom.

The program launches the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute’s IMPACT (Interdisciplinary Meetings to Address Pressing Current Themes) series of symposia. Sponsored by the Embrey Family Foundation, the symposium is free and open to the public and includes a 3 p.m. reception.

Lee Cullum, journalist and fellow in SMU’s John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies, will moderate the discussion. Panelists include SMU professors whose studies touch on some aspect of privacy:

  • George Holden is professor of psychology in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. Holden specializes in developmental psychology with a focus on family violence and parent-child interactions. His current research involves analyzing home audio recordings of mothers and their preschoolers. “Psychologists are in the business of exploring people’s private lives — such as their secret thoughts and behavior behind closed doors,” Holden says. “Consequently, we are confronted with various thorny issues.”
  • Alexis McCrossen is associate professor of history in Dedman College whose specialty is U.S. social and cultural history. “Privacy is an institution that came of age in early modern Europe,” she says.
  • Beth Newman is associate professor of English and director of the Women and Gender Studies Program in Dedman College. Newman, whose specialty is 19th-century British literature, says “The concept of privacy developed alongside the rise of the novel, which reinforced its importance — especially for the middle class.”
  • Santanu Roy is professor of economics in Dedman College. Roy’s research interests are in industrial organization, natural resources and environment, international and economic growth.
  • Mary Spector is associate professor of law and director of the Consumer Law Project – both in Dedman School of Law. Spector’s research interests are in the areas of consumer credit, landlord-tenant law and clinical legal education.
  • Suku Nair is chair and professor of computer science and engineering in the Lyle School of Engineering. Nair’s research interests are in network and systems security and reliability.

The Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute was made possible by a $5 million gift from the Dedman Family and the Dedman Foundation. The Institute was created to bring together faculty and students from the humanities, sciences and social sciences for collaborative research and other programs. The Institute will host annual seminars bringing together faculty, graduate and undergraduate students and members of the community to discuss global issues.

Written by Kimberly Cobb

> Read the full story at SMU News

TEDxSMU announces 2012 speakers and topics

TEDxSMU
Charley Johnson
Johnson
Lesli Rotenberg
Rotenberg
Will PowerPower

TEDxSMU 2012 will guide its audience through a crowd-sourced hunt for Genghis Khan’s tomb, a bio-anthropological search for love in all the right places and demonstrations of science and gadgetry. The fourth annual event returns from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1 at a new, larger venue – Dallas City Performance Hall.

Speakers include acclaimed playwright and SMU Meadows Prize winner Will Power, PBS KIDS marketing guru Lesli Rotenberg, Pay It Forward leader Charley Johnson and dozens of other speakers. The TEDxSMU program of “Ideas Worth Spreading” is built around rapid-fire, highly visual talks and performances, all wrapped around a theme this year of re:THINK.

The last speaker for the Dec. 1 event is still a question mark and will audition for his or her spot on the TEDxSMU stage at 5 p.m. Friday, October 19 at Union Station. Anyone can attend the auditions, and the audience and celebrity judges (KERA’s Anne Bothwell, D Magazine’s Zac Crain and former TEDxSMU audition winner Will Clarke) will vote on as many as a dozen, pre-screened hopefuls to select the speaker with the best idea worth spreading. Previous audition winner Jasmin Brand of Brandpointe will emcee, and a cash bar will be available. Tickets are available for $10.

“We are just pumped about the speakers and topics we’ve already confirmed,” said TEDxSMU Executive Director Sharon Lyle. “And the auditions are a wild card for us because we just don’t know what to expect!  We had so many terrific auditions last year that we added three people to the program instead of the one we had planned for.“

This is the first year that TEDxSMU tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis. TEDxSMU audiences previously were required to apply for ticket options, a process designed for the first three years to include as many thought leaders from as many backgrounds as possible in the experience. Building on the larger venue, the more widely available ticketing is designed to help the conversations that start at TEDxSMU get bigger, travel further and find new audiences.

Tickets, which are $150, include full-day conference attendance, a light breakfast, lunch, snacks throughout the day, and access to the Saturday evening after-party. Tickets may be purchased at tedxsmu2012.eventbrite.com.

Written by Kimberly Cobb

> Find a full list of TEDxSMU 2012 speakers and events at SMU News

SMU joins North Texas Food Bank to ‘Stampede Against Hunger’

SMU students volunteer at the North Texas Food Bank

Members of the SMU men’s and women’s basketball squads volunteered at the North Texas Food Bank on Sept. 6, 2012.

SMU students, faculty and staff will have a unique opportunity to fight regional hunger this fall through a new partnership with the North Texas Food Bank.

The “Stampede Against Hunger” will build on SMU’s strong support for NTFB, connecting campus groups already working with the food bank, as well as encouraging new types of participation for the campus and alumni community.  The “Stampede” is NTFB’s first university partnership.

“The work of the North Texas Food Bank is a vital service to hundreds of thousands of individuals and families in our community.  SMU is always proud to partner with the food bank and especially during its 30th anniversary this year,” SMU President R. Gerald Turner said.

In the coming year, the SMU community will have the opportunity to support the food bank through a variety of planned activities and will be challenged to develop others. Members of the men’s and women’s SMU basketball teams participate in a “sort-a-thon” Sept. 6 at the organization’s distribution center in southwest Dallas.

In November, the campus community and local alumni will join a brown bag campaign that challenges students to donate to NTFB the cost of the lunch they would have otherwise purchased, as well as participate in a food bank service day.

Written by Kimberly Cobb

> Read the full story from SMU News

Engaged Learning Expo 2012 connects students with opportunities

SMU students who want to learn outside the classroom, tackle real world issues and explore potential careers as part of their university experience will find representatives from DFW-area organizations and agencies who want their help at Monday’s Engaged Learning Expo. The event also will be of interest to faculty who want to develop courses with community components and staff who want to expand opportunities for their programs.

Scheduled for 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Aug. 27, 2012, in the Umphrey Lee Center’s Mack Ballroom, the expo will celebrate 100 SMU undergraduates who worked on significant projects this summer, and provide opportunities to mix and match interested students with 15 different campus programs as well as 45 DFW-area community partners. Refreshments will be served, and participating students will be issued an Engaged Learning “passport” that can be entered into a lottery for prizes.

“A student who engages in a learning activity beyond the classroom has the opportunity to transfer the knowledge and skills of the classroom to a real-life situation, learn from the experience, reflect on it and use it as a basis for further learning,” said Susan Kress, director of Engaged Learning at SMU. “This is a taste of what it means to be a lifelong learner, and, for some, the first step in living a life of meaning and success in a complex world.”

SMU President R. Gerald Turner will speak about SMU’s commitment to community partnerships and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Paul Ludden will outline the impact of Engaged Learning on the University. Gillian McCombs, dean and director of Central University Libraries, will explain how the Digital Repository: Engaged Learning Collections will house the publications of students who produce Engaged Learning projects.

In addition, James Quick, associate vice president for research and dean of graduate studies, will announce the first recipient of the Excellence in Mentoring Award and introduce SMU’s first director of undergraduate research.

Kimberly Cobb

> Find a list of participating companies and organizations at SMU News

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

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