$2 million TI Foundation gift endows engineering leadership position at SMU
The TI Foundation recently donated $2 million to Southern Methodist University to endow the Texas Instruments Distinguished Chair in Engineering Education and the directorship of the new Caruth Institute for Engineering Education at SMU. Delores M. Etter was named the first chairholder, and she will lead an effort that could have a lasting and vital impact on the U.S. and its economy.
L-R Dr. Delores Etter, TI Distinguished Chair for Engineering Education; Jack Swindle, chair of the TI Foundation, Dr. Geoffrey Orsak, dean of SMU's School of Engineering.
The TI Foundation contributions to SMU support ambitious programs designed to break through roadblocks to diversity and introduce a new wave of innovation into engineering education. These K-12 and early college programs will be greatly expanded within the Caruth Institute for Engineering Education.
"This new gift is yet another example of TI's leadership in finding solutions to challenges in education," said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. "With this endowment, the TI Foundation has enabled us to appoint a leader who brings with her extensive experience in education, public service and research – a combination that uniquely suits the goal of advancing engineering education."
Etter will establish a high standard in her new role. She has served as both assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition and as deputy under secretary of defense for science and technology. Her Washington assignments in public service complement a distinguished academic career. She comes to SMU from the electrical engineering faculty of the U.S. Naval Academy, where she held the Office of Naval Research Distinguished Chair in Science and Technology. Etter earned her Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico. Among her numerous honors and awards, she is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the highest recognition that can be bestowed on an engineer in this country.
Etter's own barrier-breaking career serves as a strong example for drawing young people into math, science and engineering careers that they might otherwise have assumed were out of reach.
Institute devoted to engineering careers
The Caruth Institute for Engineering Education is dedicated to increasing the number and diversity of students who graduate from U.S. high schools with both the enthusiasm and knowledge to pursue the engineering careers that are necessary for the U.S. to compete in a global economy.
"Engineering education is critical to the future of our region and country. By funding the TI distinguished chair, the TI Foundation is helping build a center of excellence in Dallas for the delivery and assessment of K-12 and higher education engineering education programs," said Jack Swindle, chair of the TI Foundation. "This aligns with the foundation's interests and supports the national effort to improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. We are excited about this opportunity to bring a nationally recognized figure to the area whose deep experience will help address this challenge."
Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison helped SMU establish what is now the Caruth Institute for Engineering Education in 2002 through a federal grant. Some of its programs, sponsored by TI, are changing education, include:
- The Infinity Project: An award-winning high school and early college math and science-based engineering program that helps teachers across the U.S. make advanced math and science courses relevant and exciting for high school students.
- The Gender Parity Initiative: A nationally recognized program that promotes interest in engineering and technology among girls and young women.
- Visioneering: An annual program that gives middle school students the opportunity to be an "engineer for a day."