Engineering school breaks applicant record
Published: Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
Lyle School of Engineering Dean Geoffrey Orsak announced Tuesday at a student senate meeting that the engineering school has broken a record for applicants for the incoming 2010 class.
Orsak also said an announcement is forthcoming regarding SMU hosting a TED conference again this year, an event that brings together engineers and specialists to discuss technology, entertainment and design, according to the TED Web site.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Orsak said the engineering school surpassed 1,000 applicants for the incoming class, eclipsing all previous records. This, he said, is due to the unparalleled faculty and facilities the school offers, made possible from financial support by major donors like Bobby B. Lyle, the school's namesake.
Lyle earned a graduate engineering management degree from SMU in 1967, and the following year became the youngest person to serve as dean of the Cox School of Business at the age of 29. Lyle later founded oil and natural gas company Lyco Energy Corporation in 1981 and was instrumental in the development of the Dallas Galleria and the InterFirst Bank-Galleria.
A SMU press release from Nov. 2008 said Lyle has pledged an estimated $20 million to the school of engineering, with the stipulation that certain benchmarks be met in the process of moving the school in line with the highest state-of-the-art institutions around the country.
"Our aspiration and expectation is to be the best engineering school on the planet," Lyle said Tuesday.
In his address to the student senate, Lyle indicated that he made his gift following an observation of a disturbing trend in primary and secondary education across the United States.
"We're in deep trouble," Lyle said. "People are turning away from math and science in our country."
To address this, Lyle and his team began attracting major figures in engineering to SMU to begin teaching and inspiring young people to address humanity's problems through engineering solutions.
Of particular note are experts Dolores Etter, former assistant secretary of the Navy, and Maj. Gen. Jeff Talley of the U.S. Army Reserve.
Talley, Lyle said, has been credited with using engineering strategies to revive and renew the slums of Baghdad in Sadr City, a particularly violent area of the Iraqi capital. Talley's vision of "engineering the peace" included cleaning up garbage, rerouting sewage runoff, providing clean water and power to citizens and building schools and hospitals, Lyle said. "He took [Sadr City] back one block at a time, one house at a time."
However, while SMU's engineering school continues to gain national and international acclaim, Orsak said few SMU students outside the engineering school appreciate how quickly it is growing and how impressive the faculty is.
"When I started about four years ago, we represented a pretty small part of SMU," Orsak said. "Now, we are the fastest growing, arguably the most ambitious piece of SMU."
With Caruth Hall, a brand new centerpiece building for the engineering quad, nearing completion, Orsak said he wants students to see the facility and understand how fortunate SMU is to have it.
"It will be like no building I've seen anywhere," Lyle said. "If you don't have a class over there you'll be sorry."
The building will be ready for use after spring break, Orsak said, with a formal dedication ceremony planned for April.