MacFarlane to Lead SMU’s Hart Institute for Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The institute combines the resources, expertise, and guidance of the Lyle School of Engineering and the Cox School of Business to develop technology prototypes and viable business plans.

MacFarlane SMU

Southern Methodist University in Dallas has named Duncan MacFarlane the first executive director of the Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, tying together the university’s Lyle School of Engineering and Cox School of Business into an innovation and business powerhouse.

Operationally, the Institute is housed in the Lyle School of Engineering and Cox School of Business. Physically it’s currently being run out of the Embrey building, which sits within SMU’s Engineering quad.

MacFarlane, an expert in engineering entrepreneurship and a pioneer in the field of photonics, will work to integrate both schools to develop technology prototypes and create viable business plans.

“The resources provided through this institute greatly enhance SMU’s ability to cultivate and support engineering entrepreneurs in North Texas and beyond,” MacFarlane said.

In January, SMU announced that the Harts had made a significant gift to the university, making the institute a reality.

MacFarlane is also a professor of electrical and computer engineering, the Bobby B. Lyle Centennial Chair in engineering entrepreneurship, and associate dean for engineering entrepreneurship. Cox School of Business Dean Matthew Myers said MacFarlane will be able to enhance collaboration.

“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,” Myers said. “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.” 

SMU said that MacFarlane’s specific research areas include advances in quantum informatics, photonics, communications systems, and instrumentation, with industry experience including work at Schafer Associates, Texas Instruments, and JDS Uniphase. The author of more than 100 technical papers, MacFarlane holds 18 U.S. patents and has secured more than $8.5 million in research funding.

MacFarlane’s work in photonic filters is widely used by optical component and system engineers. He pioneered the manufacturing of micro-optics via ink jet techniques and invented a unique thee-dimensional volumetric display applied in aerospace.

MacFarlance also was an original member of Celion Networks, a telecommunications system startup that was backed by the venture capital firm Sequoia, and a co-founder of MRRA, a company dedicated to improving medical imaging through supporting instrumentation.

A registered professional engineer in the state of Texas, MacFarlane also is a fellow of The Optical Society.

MacFarlane was a leader at UTD

Lyle Dean Marc Christensen said MacFarlane’s appointment will be good for innovation in the region.

“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,” Christensen said.

Before coming to SMU, MacFarlane spent nearly three decades at The University of Texas at Dallas in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, where he was program director of telecommunications engineering and associate dean for interdisciplinary programs. At UT Dallas, MacFarlane started three new departments—Materials Science and Engineering, Bioengineering, and Systems Engineering and Management—and six new degree programs. 

In 2012, MacFarlane received the UT Dallas Diversity Ambassador Award and, in 2014, he received the Jonsson School Award for Teaching Excellence. 

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). 

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