Skunk Works® director to speak at SMU

Frank CappuccioInnovation is a tough concept to define and even harder to teach. But Lockheed Martin’s legendary Skunk Works®, where the fastest military jets are born in secret, is sharing its name and formula for innovation with SMU’s Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering.

Frank Cappuccio, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and Skunk Works® director, will deliver the program’s inaugural lecture at 3:30 p.m. March 18, 2009 in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theater. Cappuccio will speak “Creating an Environment For Innovation” to mark the beginning of this unique partnership. Online registration is available for this free lecture.

The SMU/Lockheed Martin Skunk Works® Program is the first university program anywhere to teach the storied approach to problem solving behind aviation marvels like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. SMU students will not design airplanes – but they will learn the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works® method of tackling daunting problems in small teams under high-pressure deadlines.

Every SMU engineering graduate will experience the Skunk Works® program, starting with the incorporation of philosophy and case studies in undergraduate coursework. Lockheed Martin will rotate Skunk Works® engineers through the SMU program as visiting mentors and lecturers. But the best student opportunities for learning engineering innovation will come from varying degrees of immersion into Skunk Works® lab research, ranging from a project lasting a week or two between terms to an intensive, semester-long assignment for senior-level students working on a challenging problem.

“What we want to do is apply the philosophy of the Skunk Works®, which is imbedded in founder Kelly Johnson‘s 14 different principles,” says Engineering Dean Geoffrey Orsak. “The key is doing things quickly. In today’s world doing things quickly is very important. If you take too long, you lose out.”

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