Lyle Commits $10M for SMU Engineering School’s Strategic Vision

In what SMU calls a "bold plan," the engineering school’s future combines innovation, agility, and swift responses to shifts in technological capabilities with enduring institutional support.

Longtime Southern Methodist University supporter Bobby Lyle has designated $10 million to back a new strategic vision for his namesake, the Lyle School of Engineering.

The school was named for the Dallas entrepreneur, industry leader, and educator 11 years ago. SMU said its new bold plan for the future of the school combines innovation, agility, and swift responses to the shifts in technological capabilities with enduring institutional support.

“Bobby Lyle’s vision, then and now, speaks to the core needs of engineering education to prepare students to solve problems, drive the economy and change lives through problem-driven research and real-world experience,” SMU President R. Gerald Turner said in a statement. 

SMU said that in order to capitalize on opportunities with transformative potential, Lyle’s investment will support the school’s Future Fund by establishing endowments for Accelerating Emerging Research and Accelerating High Tech Business Innovations. The fund is meant for the support of two additional strategic portfolios: Transforming the Engineering Education Experience and Transformative Technology for Social Good.

Speed is critical when developing groundbreaking advancements in the engineering realm, Lyle said.

“Researching and prototyping new ideas must happen quickly to be competitive, while traditional fundraising takes time,” he said in a statement. “This transformational plan allows engineering school researchers to be nimble in the fast-changing tech landscape.”

The Lyle Future Fund will provide seed capital to bridge the gap between the conception of a new idea to its maturation, all the way to the point of getting funding. Projects that qualify will get significant backing for up to five years, which is long enough to establish a leadership stake in an industry.

Via partnerships with thought leaders and industry captains at the forefront of emerging research, SMU said it will be then able to choose strategic investments for the greatest impact based on market needs.

Lyle said he hopes other people will be inspired to invest in problem-driven research and practical experiences that will prepare students to become innovators, creators, entrepreneurs and leaders.

The donation was the second major gift to the university announced this month.

Last week, SMU school announced what it said was the largest alumni gift in its the university’s history—a $50 million donation from Carolyn L. And David B Miller for the Edwin L. Cox School of Business.

The Cox School reaches 100 years of business education in 2020, and the Millers’ commitment is set to support an expansive strategic plan that includes modernizing the curriculum, offering more and broader scholarships to students worldwide, collaborating across interdisciplinary programs, enhancing facilities, and extending community outreach via corporate partnerships, and increased inclusivity.

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