$7.75 million gift will create cyber security institute in SMU Lyle

Innovation Gymnasium

$7.75 million gift will create cyber security institute in SMU Lyle

Darwin Deason

Darwin Deason

A $7.75 million gift from Darwin Deason, founder of Affiliated Computer Services, will launch the Darwin Deason Institute for Cyber Security and support the Deason Innovation Gym in SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering.

Deason’s gift provides a $5 million endowment, as well as $1.25 million in operational funding, for the new institute, headed by renowned cyber security expert Fred Chang. Formerly research director at the National Security Agency (NSA), Chang joined SMU in fall 2013 as the inaugural Bobby B. Lyle Endowed Centennial Distinguished Chair in Cyber Security with the goal of creating the Institute that now bears Deason’s name.

The gift provides another $1.5 million to support the operation of the Innovation Gym, also named in honor of the Deason family. The Innovation Gym is a facility in which students are immersed into a fast-paced environment to solve engineering problems.

“This support immediately positions the Lyle School to make significant contributions to the science of cyber security,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Darwin Deason’s generous gift of operational funding, in addition to the endowment, allows the Institute to begin addressing critical cyber security issues from day one, advancements that will have an impact far beyond our campus nationally and globally.”

“Darwin Deason’s gift will support important research and education across a broad spectrum of student involvement,” said Lyle School Dean Marc Christensen. “The institute will attract the best minds to address the threats of cyber crime and cyber terrorism. The Innovation Gym helps develop young minds, turning students loose to solve real-world problems under tight deadlines, overcoming intermediate failures as they learn to innovate. By supporting the institute, this gift recognizes the importance of research at the highest level to solve a global challenge. By funding the Innovation Gym, the gift helps to develop the next generation of innovators equipped to solve emerging problems.”

Deason is the founder of Affiliated Computer Systems, launched in 1988 to handle business processes for clients such as E-ZPass, 7-Eleven, United Parcel Service (UPS), the City of Dallas and numerous state and federal agencies. Serving in a variety of executive positions, including as chairman of the board and CEO, Deason took the company public in 1994 and sold it to Xerox for $6.4 billion in 2010.

Previously, Deason worked for the data-processing firm MTech, where he was promoted to CEO at the age of 29. Before joining MTech, Deason worked in data processing for Gulf Oil in Tulsa, having started there as a mail clerk.

“My business career was built on technology services, so clearly the issue of cyber security is something I take very seriously,” Deason said. “The work of the institute will have a far-reaching impact, spanning retail, defense, technology, healthcare, energy, government, finance and transportation – everything that makes our world work.”

Several members of Deason’s family have SMU connections: Deason’s son, Doug, is married to Holly, who is an alumna. Doug’s son, Preston, and Holly’s daughter, Fallon, both currently attend SMU.

The gift counts toward SMU’s Second Century Campaign, which has received more than $800 million toward a $1 billion goal to support student quality, faculty and academic excellence and the campus experience. The campaign continues to work toward raising the number of endowed faculty positions at the University to 110; raising the number of endowed student scholarships to 500; and completing 15 major campus facilities.

Written by Kim Cobb

> Read the full story from SMU News

January 30, 2014|News|

SMU explores the legacy of Aaron Swartz and ‘guerilla open access’

Aaron Swartz

The late Aaron Swartz, co-founder of Reddit and a leader in the open access movement, is the subject of a panel discussion, “Jailbreaking Information,” hosted by SMU’s Central University Libraries. Photo credit: Sage Ross.

Computer programmer and political activist Aaron Swartz posted his Guerilla Open Access Manifesto on the nonprofit Internet Archive in 2008. On Jan. 11, 2013, at age 26, the Reddit co-founder took his own life, apparently despondent over his imminent federal prosecution and the threat of up to 50 years in prison.

Almost two years to the day before his suicide, Swartz had been arrested and charged with two counts of wire fraud and 11 violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for hacking MIT’s computer network and downloading nearly 5 million articles from the JSTOR digital library.

Yet he was no ordinary accused thief. A Fellow in Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics and a longtime friend of its director, Lawrence Lessig, Swartz was also a well-known and well-liked figure in the open access movement – a worldwide effort to provide free and unrestricted access, via internet, to scientific and scholarly research.

> Find a timeline of the open access movement at the Earlham College website

SMU’s Central University Libraries has organized a panel discussion of Swartz’s legacy and how his actions could impact millions of students, teachers, researchers and publishers around the globe. “Jailbreaking Information: The Legacy of Hacktivist Aaron Swartz” begins at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 7, 2013 in the Science Information Center Mezzanine, Fondren Library Center.

Nathan Huntoon, director of the Innovation Gymnasium in the Lyle School of Engineering, will moderate a panel of SMU experts including:

> Read more from the SMU Central University Libraries news blog

March 7, 2013|Calendar Highlights, News|

SMU fossils, expertise to be an ongoing part of new Perot Museum

Malawisaurus in the Perot Museum

A 35-foot skeletal cast of the Early Cretaceous sauropod dinosaur Malawisaurus stands sentry in the spacious glass lobby of the new Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas. SMU paleontologist Louis Jacobs, who discovered the dinosaur in Africa, provided the cast to the museum. (Image: Dallas Morning News)

SMU faculty and students, the University’s Shuler Museum of Paleontology, and the SMU Innovation Gymnasium have teamed with the nation’s new premier museum of nature and science to provide everything from dinosaurs and sea turtles to technical assistance and advice.

Fossils on loan by SMU to Dallas’s new Perot Museum of Nature and Science include those of animals from an ancient sea that once covered Dallas.

The fossils represent a slice of SMU’s scientific collaboration with the Perot Museum and its predecessor, the Dallas Museum of Natural History.

Items from SMU’s scientists include a 35-foot skeletal cast of the African dinosaur Malawisaurus (pictured above) standing sentry in the spacious glass lobby of the Perot, which opened Dec. 1 near downtown Dallas.

“The new museum building itself is an icon, but it’s also a statement by the city about taking the advances of science to the public,” said vertebrate paleontologist Louis Jacobs, an SMU earth sciences professor, who serves on the Perot Museum’s advisory board and Collections Committee.

Jacobs, who was ad interim director of the Dallas Museum of Natural History in 1999, led the team that discovered Malawisaurus in Africa. He provided the cast to the museum.

“Here at SMU we train students and create new knowledge. The museum’s mission is to take the stories of science out to the general public so they can be used,” said Jacobs. “Anthony Fiorillo, Perot Museum Curator of Earth Sciences, is a world-class scientist with whom we work. We have a junction between the mission, training and knowledge we have here, infused into and enhanced by what the museum does. That’s why the museum is important to SMU and that’s why SMU is important to the museum.”

Fossils on loan are from the Shuler Museum collection in the Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences. SMU scientists provided technical expertise for exhibits and serve on the Perot Museum’s advisory committees.

Also on exhibit from SMU is a miniature unmanned autonomous helicopter designed for fighting fires that was built by students in SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering.

Shuler Museum fossils can be viewed in the T. Boone Pickens Life Then and Now Hall. They include an unnamed 113 million-year-old herbivorous dinosaur discovered in 1985 at Proctor Lake southwest of Stephenville, Texas.

For perspective on that exhibit’s paleoenvironment in Texas at the time, SMU paleobotanist Bonnie Jacobs provided fossil wood, fossil cones, fossil leaves and images of microscopic pollen grains from the Shuler Museum. The fossils provided information used to create a model of an extinct tree to accompany the exhibit.

> Read the full story from the SMU Research blog

December 6, 2012|News, Research|
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