December 20, 2010

Aart de Geus ’85 applauds the ambitious curriculum of the new Hart Center for Engineering Leadership.

“I will probably rip off some of these good ideas,” he jokes.


Mitch (left) and Linda Hart ’65 with Aart de Geus ’85, who delivered the new Hart Center for Engineering Leadership’s inaugural lecture October 13.

De Geus delivered the center’s inaugural lecture, “Visions in Engineering Leadership,” October 13. He holds a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from SMU and is the co-founder, chair and chief executive officer of Synopsys Inc., a dominant player in the worldwide electronic design automation (EDA) arena.

“Leadership determines the future,” de Geus says. “One thing that all leaders have in common is passion. Passion is the driver that makes you invent, makes you care for others – and that’s the heart of this school.”

Among those in the audience were Linda ’65 and Mitch Hart, Dallas business and philanthropic leaders, who provided a generous gift to fund the center in the Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering. The center is housed in the Palmer Engineering Leadership Complex in the Lyle School’s new Caruth Hall.

In addressing the interconnectedness of the technical, economic and social foundations of today’s global society, the Hart Center focuses on skills beyond applied math and science. A wide range of topics such as ethics, communication, creativity and strategic thinking are explored in individual and team experiences.

“Over my lifetime, I have learned that leadership is not defined by a position,” says Mitch Hart, chair of Hart Group Inc. and a former SMU trustee. “A leader is someone people choose to follow – someone who can make a difference. It is my great pleasure to work with the Lyle School to provide students the tools they need to develop their leadership skills and maintain engineering’s role as a driver of economic growth.”

Approximately 750 undergraduate students in the Lyle School, including about 250 first-year students, are participating this semester. Hart Center programs also are available to graduate students.

“This center will add tremendous value to an SMU engineering education by connecting Lyle students to faculty from a variety of non-engineering disciplines who will help hone their leadership skills,” says Linda Hart, a graduate of SMU’s Dedman School of Law, chair of Imation Corp. and vice chair, president and CEO of Hart Group Inc. She serves on the executive boards of Dedman Law and Cox School of Business.

Faculty from across the campus will work with engineering students to develop non-technical skills. For example, those who need to gain confidence as public speakers may be guided toward a theatre class offered through SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts.

The Hart Center also builds on the school’s longstanding co-op and internship programs.