Lyle announces new endowed chair to support engineering entrepreneurship

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Duncan MacFarlane. Photo credit: SMU

Duncan MacFarlane, electrical engineering professor and associate dean for engineering entrepreneurship, will be the first person to hold the Bobby B. Lyle Centennial Chair in Engineering Entrepreneurship, SMU announced Tuesday.

“Duncan is a pioneer in the field of photonics engineering, who has written more than 100 papers or patents related to photonic systems and components. He has done wide-ranging research in micro-optics, lasers and other areas,” SMU President R. Gerald Turner said.  “Most notably he is an ideal choice for this position with his commit to supporting entrepreneurial ideas that grow into business opportunities.”

The Centennial Chair in Engineering Entrepreneurship was made possible by a donation from SMU trustee Bobby B. Lyle ’67. According to Turner, Lyle has been a champion for entrepreneurship education in both the Cox School of Business and the Lyle School of Engineering, his namesake.

“It is really fantastic to have another endowed faculty position endowed by Bobby. It is a testament to his love for this university,” said SMU Board of Trustees Chair Michael Boone.

Lyle cited MacFarlane’s experience, curiosity and creativity for helping him recognize innovation opportunities.

“Entrepreneurship at SMU will now take a giant leap forward and I cannot be more proud that Duncan MacFarlane is serving as the catalyst to this addition as the first person to occupy the Centennial Chair in Engineering Entrepreneurship,” Lyle said.

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In his new position, MacFarlane plans to work across disciplines in cross-campus initiatives with existing programs like the Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship and the Dedman School of Law’s Tsai Center for Law, Science and Innovation.

“Making it easier for students, faculty and staff across campus to transition their ideas into high-tech companies is the motivation behind engineering entrepreneurship at Lyle,” MacFarlane said in an SMU press release.

MacFarlane said he plans on helping people across campus understand how to use technology to turn their ideas into products and ultimately make sales.

“I stand here today grateful for two things: I’m grateful that Bobby B. Lyle had the vision for the importance to designate a centennial chair in engineering entrepreneurship; and I’m grateful that we identified exactly the right person to take up this mantle and collaborate all across campus to help us take this to the next level,” said Dean and Bobby B. Lyle Professor of Engineering Innovation Marc Christensen.  “Duncan MacFarlan is a professor, an engineer, an innovator, an entrepreneur, a collaborator, and a leader.”

SMU will officially announce MacFarlane’s assumption of the position Feb. 2 at 4:30 p.m. A panel discussion about interdisciplinary strategies for advancing entrepreneurship hosted by Currall, moderated by MacFarlane and including representatives from SMU’s seven schools will follow at 5:30 p.m.

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