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New engineering institute to modify, develop technology for the global poor

  • an easily accessible library of existing technological solutions that are certified and ready for widespread dissemination and use
  • a global database of regional technology gaps that need to be bridged to meet specific needs
  • research and development of new ultra low-cost technologies involving SMU faculty, students and industry partners
  • field testing and scaling of new products to ensure low manufacturing costs, durability, easy maintenance, and minimal impact on the environment
  • assistance to businesses that will manufacture and maintain these technologies

"This will be no easy challenge," said Geoffrey Orsak, dean of the Lyle School of Engineering. "To make basic technology globally available at a price the poorest of the poor can afford requires a radical rethinking of centuries of engineering practice. How many solutions have remained on the drawing board because they were too costly for communities that need them? How many have failed because they could not be locally repaired and maintained?"

It's going to take talented, motivated engineers to identify solutions for alleviating poverty, Orsak said, adding that the success of this new institute can have a profound impact on people who struggle just to survive with dignity.

The Lyle School's partnership with the renowned Lockheed Martin Skunk Works will provide proven innovation methodologies to support the institute's research and development efforts. The institute's approach to finding affordable solutions also will include national and international competitions and incentives, particularly targeted to students.

The Lyle School will begin an international search for a scholar who has broad experience in developing technologies and infrastructure for emerging economies to become the William T. and Gay F. Solomon Endowed Professor in Engineering and Global Development. Institute director Talley will hold the Bobby B. Lyle Endowed P

Contact: Kim Cobb
Southern Methodist University

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