Happening Now: Electrical Engineering, Momentum in Telecommunications & Network Engineering

A discussion with Dr. Dinesh Rajan, Chair, Electrical Engineering, Cecil and Ida Green Endowed Professor of Engineering, and Scott Kingsley, Program Director and Senior Lecturer in Telecommunications and Network Engineering

For decades, SMU Lyle electrical engineering has been a pipeline for talent both nationally and internationally in the telecom field. With the resurgence of the Telecom Corridor and the global internet and digital revolution, SMU Lyle is poised and ready to meet the growing demand for technology-trained engineers.  “We are kicking our efforts into high gear to give our graduate students the empirical independence they need, plus the real-world experience they want, with actual software used in industry to set them apart from others in the field,” Dr. Rajan says. “The school has made a significant investment and commitment in the program to provide us with the resources needed to build and support advanced telecommunications labs.”

The master’s program in telecommunications and network engineering is growing rapidly, up from 59 students five years ago to over 200 students this year.  Coursework and advanced telecommunications labs, built by students with supervision from faculty and industry advisors, are regularly updated to keep pace with industry demands. According to Professor Kingsley, “In just about every class, I have to modify at least half the material over the summer before teaching in the fall, and we are constantly offering new courses.” The program has seen so much success recently that it received the 2015 Program of the Year Award from the Information and Telecommunications Education and Research Association (ITERA) for exceptional ability to deliver high-quality education and community support.

Any undergraduate with an electrical engineering or computer science and engineering background is eligible for the advanced degree program. The degree includes a core set of classes which segue into customizable paths in a graduate student’s preferred specialization:

Switching & Routing: The program begins with a general overview lab of switching and routing technologies, protocols and configuration. The lab portion of the class focuses on basic configuration and troubleshooting of a Cisco Systems-based environment.

Advanced Networking Design: A detail-oriented lab that simulates the global MPLS network using a variety of network routing protocols. The lab portion of the class focuses on advanced configuration and troubleshooting of a Cisco Systems-based environment.

Data Center Network Engineering: Next Generation, Software Defined Data Center architectures and design are examined in detail with emphasis on internal and external networks. Software Defined Network (SDN), Network Virtualization (NV) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) concepts are applied in the laboratory using open source and proprietary systems such as VMware, OpenStack, Open vSwitch, OpenDaylight and others.

According to Dr. Rajan and Professor Kingsley, the next big industry development is the so-called Internet of Things. “Everything is going to be connected to the network,” Dr. Rajan says. “You see all sorts of examples: toasters, thermostats, washing machines, even juice machines that are Wi-Fi connected.  Anything that gathers and gives you data from sensors and helps you make decisions quickly, whatever information you think you need, makes it accessible right away because the sensors are widespread, numerous and always connected.”

Because of SMU Lyle’s close ties to industry, the school has access to expert speakers, mentors, industry-sponsored capstone projects, internships and co-op opportunities for students.  “Our grad students are keen to do more outside of the classroom, even without credit or compensation. They’ve worked with companies like Citibank, Verizon, Amazon, Cisco Systems and AT&T,” Dr. Rajan says.  “Industry wants to recruit our students, who are trained on the latest equipment and technologies.  They can talk sensibly about actual work they’ve done, and can be effective and productive on day one.”

Dr. Dinesh Rajan email:



    Program Director Scott Kingsley email:

M.S. Telecommunications & Networking Degree Program: