Tackling new opportunities

A $2.5 million gift from both the Deason Foundation, established by SMU supporter and friend Darwin A. Deason, and his son Doug Deason will support engineering and cyber security research and development within the Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering. The gift builds on the Deasons’ visionary support for Lyle School research that addresses the critical needs of businesses around the world.

Darwin A. Deason

The gift includes $2.25 million to support the ongoing operation of the Darwin Deason Institute for Cyber Security, established in 2014 by a gift from Darwin Deason. Through basic problem-driven, interdisciplinary research, the institute advances the science, policy and application of cyber security. One primary Deason Institute objective is to close the skills gap between the world’s cyber security needs and the number of professionals trained in the field.

“Innovation requires curiosity and ingenuity,” said Doug Deason, president of the Deason Foundation. “My family and the Deason Foundation are proud to support the pioneering research and teaching in the Lyle School of Engineering and SMU, and we look forward to seeing how that inspiring work will impact Dallas and North Texas in the years to come.”

In addition, $250,000 of the gift will support the SMU Deason Innovation Gym within the Caruth Institute for Engineering Education, also founded by a generous gift from Darwin Deason. A pioneering makerspace that supports the University’s work to empower students and to enrich research and teaching, the Deason Innovation Gym offers SMU students, staff, faculty and community members the opportunity to bring their biggest and boldest ideas into reality. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the facility was instrumental in creating and distributing vital PPE equipment to frontline workers across the region.

“The Deason Institute and Deason Innovation Gym would not exist without the generosity of Darwin Deason and his family,” said Lyle School of Engineering Dean Nader Jalili. “Supporting new ideas that prepare the next generation of students to drive change is crucial to advancements in fields from education and healthcare to business and technology. This latest gift will support our faculty’s ability to nurture curiosity and embed innovation into everything we do – from research to engineering curriculum.”