School:Southern Methodist University

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Southern Methodist University (SMU) is a nationally renown private research and liberal arts university in the heart of Dallas, Texas. SMU, founded in 1911 with classes starting in 1915, is known nationally for it’s outstanding academics and unique campus culture. Many of SMU’s 6,300 undergraduate students choose to pursue multiple majors and minors, as the school promotes well-rounded education and it’s flexible degree plans/ curriculum.

In recent years, SMU has seen a lot of investment from alumni in order to create a better educational environments for the students. The capital investment has provided the university with all new engineering buildings, museums, a brand new commons system, state of the art dining facilities, and George W. Bush’s Presidential Library. In the same time, every admitted class of freshman have been more qualified than the last. This caused SMU to soar in National Rankings and continue to invest in their student’s educational opportunities. SMU is a school committed to creating world changers through it’s innovative and entrepreneurial environment. 

Between the Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship, the budding Arts Entrepreneurship program, and a plethora of programs and spaces that encourage innovation in the Lyle School of Engineering, SMU is putting a lot of focus on entrepreneurship and innovation. 

Promoting Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship

In the Lyle School of engineering, the Deason Innovation Gym has become the birthplace of ideation and creation within the school. Students have the opportunity to gain 24 hour access to the space, which includes a Laser Cutter, 3d Printers, a vinyl cutter, band saws, a CNC mill, and virtually every other shop tool imaginable. After training on certain equipment, students are encouraged to work on personal projects as well as school projects. Several classes use the space for projects and ideation. Whiteboards and sticky notes litter the walls, as design thinking has become a focus in the Lyle School of Engineering. The innovation Gym also hosts and runs many different innovation focused programs.

The Innovation Competition-  The Innovation Competition is an annual competition that spans two semesters. Students form a group and submit their idea. Once judged and into the final round, the participating groups receive space and money to build their ideas. Eventually each finalist will present their final product and a winner is chosen. 

Multiple SMU Hackathons- The innovation Gym has hosted several small hackathons sponsored by companies in Dallas. Students build something in either 36 or 48 hours and compete for prizes. 

Immersive Design Experiences- Several IDEs occur each year in the innovation Gym. Each IDE varies in duration, anywhere from 4 days to 10 days, usually over a holiday break. In these IDEs, the innovation gym has a theme for the experience, sometime vague and other times specific, and students are tasked with forming a team and tackling the issue. Past IDEs have included projects such as Building an SLA 3d Printer, redesigning the Slurpee Machine/ Experience, and building the worlds tallest toy tower. 

Aside from the Innovation Gym, the Lyle School of Engineering has put a lot of focus on Innovation, design, and Entrepreneurship in it’s classes and programs. TheHunt institute has become an important part of the engineering school, with a focus on helping to improve the lives of people who are impoverished around the world. The Hunt Institute gathers the best minds around campus to tackle many issues such as access to clean water and adequate shelter. Every year, the Hunt Institute hosts Engineering and Humanity week, including a challenge that addresses large problems in developing countries. Students compete to come up with the best ideas, supported by world renowned guests that are experts in their fields related to the issue at hand. 

Classes such asHuman Centered Design and Building Creative Confidence have given students the opportunity to learn all about design thinking, which relies on need finding and empathizing with people. Students in Human Centered Design have had the opportunity to design solutions for many different circumstances, ranging from solutions for the elderly to addressing food deserts in the Dallas area. 

First Year Design is in the national spotlight for it’s innovative curriculum and teaching methods. Students in First year design work in groups on a semester long project that teach students many soft and hard skills necessary to standout as an engineer. The project is typically to build a fully autonomous robot that can compete against another team to gain the most points on a course. This final competition occurs at the end of each semester after many sleepless nights and has become a spectacle that students from all backgrounds attend. 

In February of 2015, SMU is Co-Hosting Dallas’ first major Hackathon with UTD. HackDFW is sponsored by Major League Hacking, which has become the most respected authority in hackathons. Students from all over the nation will travel to participate.


The Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship was established in 1970 as one of the first of it’s kind. To this day, the institute provides students with resources and classes that give business students unparalleled access to Entrepreneurship classes, staff, and resources.  In the Cox business school, students can pursue a minor in Strategy and Entrepreneurship as well as a MBA with a focus in Strategy and Entrepreneurship. 

The Caruth Institute also provides MBA students with access to the Cox MBA Venture fund. This fund provides students enrolled in Venture Capital Practicum course the opportunity to gain firsthand experience analyzing and selecting venture interests. 

The campus wide Business pitch competition and the Cox Business Plan competition are annual events that give students the opportunity to compete for money for their ventures. 


The Meadows School of the Arts is not only one of the top arts schools in the nation for dance, theater, vocal performance, and art, but also at the forefront for Arts Entrepreneurship. Meadows now offers an Arts Entrepreneurship minor. Students can take classes that teach practical ways to form ventures and seek funding within the Arts. 

AMAE 4377 is now offered through the Meadows school. This class, better know as Accelerating your startup, is a interdisciplinary class that encourages students from every major to apply with an idea for a company. Students chosen for the class receive $5,000 and mentorship throughout the course in partnership with the Dallas Entrepreneurship Center. 

Faculty Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Since SMU is a research institution, faculty and staff are encouraged to pursue research in their respective fields. Research centers such as the Research Center for Advanced Manufacturing, Mcguire Energy Institute, the Caruth institute for Entrepreneurship, and the Center for Teaching excellence are paving the way for faculty to make innovations that will make a lasting impact on  SMU, it’s Students, and the world. 

Actively Supporting the University Technology Transfer Function

SMU students are strongly encouraged to ideate, innovate, and create. Students use communal spaces such as the Innovation Gym, or The CUBE to bring their ideas to fruition. The Innovation Gym has special Intellectual property guidelines to protect Students and their Intellectual Property. 

Facilitating University-Industry Collaboration

SMU is the premier higher education institution in the Dallas-Ft.Worth Metroplex and has connections that span across all disciplines. Annual career fairs draw 100s of businesses to vie for the best and brightest SMU students. 

The Heigi Career Development center has many functions to connect students with employers. Online resources such as Mustang TRAK gives students immediate access to local job opportunities. Each school in the university has a large network with both local and national companies. In Dallas, SMU is as well respected with employers as many Ivy league schools.

The Lyle School of Engineering’s coop program provides engineering students with connections to premier companies such as Lockheed Martin, Texas Instruments, and Raytheon. Recently, successful startup companies such as Reward Style and Reaction have hired students for internships and coops. Every year, more emerging companies hire SMU students as a greater focus has been placed on innovation and Entrepreneurship. 

Engaging with Regional and Local Economic Development Efforts

SMU students are encouraged to become involved in the local community. Organizations such as Lyle in the City, are focused on improving less fortunate areas around Dallas. 

The Macguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility Research has focused on Dallas in recent years. One study on Food Deserts spurred funding for improving education around health in low income schools in the Dallas Area. 

Many Engaged Learning and Big Ideas projects are focused on giving back to the surrounding community. '

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