SMU In The News

Dallas Innovates: MacFarlane to lead SMU’s Hart Institute for Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship

DALLAS (SMU) – Duncan L. MacFarlane MBA ’98, an expert in engineering entrepreneurship and a pioneer in the field of photonics, has been appointed the first executive director of the Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship at SMU. The Institute combines the innovative forces of SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering and Cox School of Business. The two schools integrate their expertise, resources and guidance to develop technology prototypes and create viable business plans.

“Naming Duncan to this position is a natural extension of his vast expertise in product innovation and engineering entrepreneurship. He is actively engaged in Dallas, the region and the SMU community in efforts to nurture ground-breaking ideas and turn them into reality,” said Lyle Dean Marc P. Christensen.

“The resources provided through this institute greatly enhance SMU’s ability to cultivate and support engineering entrepreneurs in North Texas and beyond,” said MacFarlane, who also holds the Bobby B. Lyle Centennial Chair in Engineering Entrepreneurship, serves as associate dean for Engineering Entrepreneurship and is a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Lyle. “I am delighted with this opportunity.”

“An alumnus of the SMU Cox Executive MBA program, Duncan’s inherent innovative spirit helped launch the joint M.S. in Engineering Entrepreneurship degree in concert with the Lyle and Cox Schools in 2017,” said Matthew B. Myers, Dean of the Cox School of Business. “We look forward to a deeper collaboration between the two schools in taking the engineering entrepreneurship program and campus-based technology start-ups to new heights.”

MacFarlane’s specific research areas include breakthrough advances in quantum informatics, photonics, communications systems and instrumentation. His work in photonic filters is used widely by optical component and system engineers in industry. MacFarlane pioneered the manufacture of micro-optics using ink jet techniques and invented a novel 3-dimensional volumetric display applied in aerospace. He has written more than 100 technical papers, holds 18 U.S. patents and has secured more than $8.5 million in research funding.

Prior to joining SMU, MacFarlane spent almost three decades at The University of Texas at Dallas in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, where he served as program director of Telecommunications Engineering and associate dean for Interdisciplinary Programs. MacFarlane started three new departments, including Materials Science and Engineering, Bioengineering, and Systems Engineering and Management, as well as six new degree programs. MacFarlane received the UT Dallas Diversity Ambassador Award in 2012 and the Jonsson School Award for Teaching Excellence in 2014.

MacFarlane’s industry experience includes roles at Schafer Associates, Texas Instruments and JDS Uniphase. He was an original member of Celion Networks, a telecommunications system startup backed by Sequoia, a venture capital firm. He was also a co-founder of MRRA, a company dedicated to improving medical imaging through supporting instrumentation.

At Lyle, MacFarlane teaches undergraduate and graduate-level Electrical and Computer Engineering courses, as well as Engineering Entrepreneurship. He is the director of the Photonics Devices and Systems Laboratory and co-director of the Quantum Informatics Research Group. As the Bobby B. Lyle Centennial Chair in Engineering Entrepreneurship, MacFarlane serves as program director for the Master of Science in Engineering Entrepreneurship (MSEN).

MacFarlane is a registered professional engineer in the state of Texas and a Fellow of the Optical Society of America. He is a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and has been elected to the honor societies Eta Kappa Nu, Sigma Xi and Beta Gamma Sigma. MacFarlane earned his B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Brown University in 1984 and 1985, respectively; a Ph.D. from Portland State University in 1989; and an MBA from SMU in 1998.

Read Dallas Innovates’ article on MacFarlane here. – Molly Phillips and Anna Martinez


About SMU

SMU is the nationally ranked global research university in the dynamic city of Dallas. SMU’s alumni, faculty and nearly 12,000 students in seven degree-granting schools demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit as they lead change in their professions, community and the world.


About the Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering

SMU’s Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering, founded in 1925, is one of the oldest engineering schools in the Southwest. The school offers eight undergraduate and 29 graduate programs, including master’s and doctoral degrees, through the departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Computer Science and Engineering; Electrical Engineering; Engineering Management, Information, and Systems; and Mechanical Engineering. Lyle students participate in programs in the unique Deason Innovation Gym, providing the tools and space to work on immersion design projects and competitions to accelerate leadership development and the framework for innovation; the Hart Center for Engineering Leadership, helping students develop nontechnical skills to prepare them for leadership in diverse technical fields; the Caruth Institute for Engineering Education, developing new methodologies for incorporating engineering education into K-12 schools; and the Hunter and Stephanie Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity, combining technological innovation with business expertise to address global poverty.


About the Cox School of Business

The SMU Cox School of Business, established in 1920, is committed to influencing the way the world conducts business via prolific research that provokes innovation, change and global thought leadership. Cox faculty members strive to connect ground-breaking research to the classroom as well as the marketplace. Cox faculty are widely published in the world’s most prestigious management journals. The Cox School of Business offers a full range of business education degree programs including BBA, multiple MBA programs, and other Master of Science degree programs, as well as non-degree Executive Education programs. Consistently ranked among the world’s leading business schools, SMU Cox maintains an active alumni network and is accredited by AACSB.



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