Engineering School Honors Lyle, Launches Initiatives

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Watching the laser show with faculty, students and staff were (from left) President R. Gerald Turner, Bobby B. Lyle and Engineering Dean Geoffrey Orsak.

SMU’s 83-year-old School of Engineering has been named in honor of Bobby B. Lyle (’67). The Dallas entrepreneur and industry leader was instrumental in crafting a strategic plan for the school that Dean Geoffrey Orsak calls “a new national template for engineering in the 21st century.”

“Over the past several years, Bobby Lyle has spent countless hours helping to chart a course that will position the school for national leadership in American higher education,” said President R. Gerald Turner.

Lyle has been an SMU trustee for 20 years and serves on numerous trustee committees. As a member of the Engineering Executive Board, he has worked with Orsak and the faculty to introduce several major initiatives expanding the school’s focus on technology leadership, engineering activism and social responsibility.

“Our programs are designed to move beyond traditional engineering education as we prepare our students to provide leadership in the application of technology to solve real world problems,” Lyle said. “This calls for engineers with strong skills of oral and written communication, creative thinking and a broad understanding of societal and economic issues.”

Among the new Lyle School of Engineering initiatives are:

  • The Lockheed Martin Skunk Works® Lab. Through a partnership with Lockheed Martin, SMU will be the first university in the nation to host a lab modeled on the top-secret research and development facility created to solve the “toughest technology problems facing this country,” Orsak said.
  • The Center for Engineering Leadership. The center will provide a four-year customized leadership development program for each student that will be overseen by a team of executive coaches.
  • A new international institute. The institute will help to develop and deploy sustainable, technology-based solutions for the global poor.
  • An engineering and innovation minor. Offered to SMU students pursuing non-technical degrees, the minor will focus on innovation and design skills.
  • The Caruth Institute for Engineering Education. The K-12 center develops new proven methodologies for incorporating engineering education into public schools. The recently endowed institute also expands engineering opportunities for underrepresented groups, including women and minorities.
  • The Office of Contemporary Technology. The office is charged with providing cutting-edge educational resources to all engineering alumni for their entire careers.
  • “Plugged In.” A daily e-mail briefing for students on current global political, economic, social, scientific and technical issues.
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A laser light show introduced the newly named Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering at a ceremony Oct. 17.

Lyle has strong SMU ties with both the School of Engineering and the Cox School of Business. He earned an M.S. degree in engineering administration at SMU in 1967 and received a Doctor of Education degree from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. From 1967-75, he was a professor and administrator in SMU’s Business School, serving as dean ad interim and as executive dean.

Lyle is convening co-chair of the Engineering Steering Committee for The Second Century Campaign, launched in September with a goal of $750 million. His financial contributions to the Engineering School during the quiet phase of the campaign exceeded $5 million. In 2008 Lyle pledged additional support toward the school’s new initiatives. His total gifts and pledges represent the largest commitment from an individual or institution in the history of the Engineering School.

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