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January 23, 2001


DALLAS (SMU) -- Southern Methodist University's engineering school is starting the new year with a new name and two new departments.

In December 2000, the SMU Board of Trustees approved changing the name of the school to the SMU School of Engineering. The school had previously been called the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

"This new name more directly focuses on what we're about," said Stephen Szygenda, who became dean of the school in August 2000. "This is a new age for engineering at SMU, and we are simplifying our name as we strengthen our program."

In addition to changing the name of the school, Szygenda has created two new departments to help meet the growing demand for certain types of engineers. The new departments are the Department of Environmental and Civil Engineering and the Department of Engineering Management, Information and Systems.

With the addition of the two new departments, the SMU School of Engineering now has five departments. Its other departments are Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Computer Science and Engineering. The school also operates advanced computer education centers in Richardson, Plano, Houston and San Antonio that teach computer technologies such as network administration, database administration, computer programming and e-commerce.

"Our existing departments as well as the advanced computer education centers also are moving aggressively to create new, interesting and relevant programs to help generate the techno-business leaders of the future," Szygenda said.

Civil engineering was one of the first three engineering majors offered at SMU, but the program was eliminated in 1992. The new Department of Environmental and Civil Engineering will begin by offering a master's degree in civil engineering in September 2001, with an emphasis on structural engineering. Along with this traditional civil engineering degree, the department will offer a master's degree in facilities engineering for working professionals. The program will be expanded to include an undergraduate degree in civil engineering as well.

The new Department of Environmental and Civil Engineering also will add a master's degree in environmental engineering in September 2001 that will complement SMU's existing master's degree in environmental systems management that has been place since 1991. An important new emphasis of this program will be environmental health engineering. SMU has offered an undergraduate degree in environmental engineering since 1997.

Szygenda said he is combining the civil engineering program with environmental engineering because of the mutual synergism and close historical relationship between the two disciplines.

"This combination will prepare our students to assume leadership roles in these fields because of the broadened perspectives they will have," Szygenda said.

The new Department of Environmental and Civil Engineering will be chaired by Ed Forest, who has taught at SMU since 1987. Forest developed SMU's graduate programs in materials science, environmental systems management, manufacturing systems management, software engineering and systems engineering as well as the undergraduate program in environmental engineering.

"Ed's leadership abilities and his background in creating new and successful programs will enhance the success of this department," Szygenda said.

The Department of Engineering Management, Information and Systems will offer degrees that combine coursework in engineering, business and management.

"This is an area that most engineering schools are not addressing," Szygenda said. "By giving our engineering graduates skills in business and entrepreneurship, they will be able to become innovators and leaders."

The new department will offer an undergraduate degree in management science and master's degrees in engineering management, operations research and systems engineering. It also will offer doctoral programs in operations research and engineering management. A unique new emphasis of these programs will be in the area of information engineering and management, with programs designed to address industry needs and the severe shortage of professionals in these areas.

"These particular programs have been designed with close cooperation and guidance from industry," Szygenda said.

Acting chair of the Department of Engineering Management, Information and Systems is Richard Barr, who has taught at both the SMU School of Engineering and SMU's Edwin L. Cox School of Business since 1976.

"Richard has extensive interdisciplinary experience and knowledge in an area that is very interdisciplinary," Szygenda said. "His experience teaching and doing research at both our business school and our engineering school will help us establish close ties between the two schools for the benefit of students enrolled in these new programs."

The SMU School of Engineering was founded in 1925 as the School of Engineering and Architecture, and changed its name the following year to the School of Engineering. The school became the Institute of Technology in 1967, and the name was again changed to the School of Engineering and Applied Science in 1976.

In addition to expanding its course offerings the school is developing several new programs to help meet the current shortage of engineers and high technology workers. These programs include new executive master's degree programs that will enable working professionals to earn master's degrees by attending classes one Friday and Saturday a month, a "Redshirt Engineering" program for high school students who are interested in engineering but may not be prepared for it academically, and an Industrial Scholars Program in which scholarships are packaged with internships at sponsoring companies.

"Engineering programs must be designed and updated to meet the changing needs of industry and society, " said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. "We want to prepare our students not only to meet demands, but to shape the direction of the industry in serving society. Under Dean Szygenda, we are taking aggressive steps toward that goal."

For more information on the School of Engineering, visit its Web site at