Southern Methodist University has announced a $2.5 million gift from AT&T to launch a research center focused on supporting the fast, reliable cloud-based telecommunications necessary for global connectivity.
The funds will endow the AT&T Center for Virtualization at SMU and fund research aimed at delivering solutions in response to critical industry needs, educating the next generation of virtualized network technology experts, and helping Dallas become a global information technology hub. Through virtualization, functions that once required specialized hardware devices are performed with software running on general purpose hardware — as is the case with today's streaming music and video services. According to SMU provost and vice president for academic affairs Steven C. Currall, the center will take an interdisciplinary approach to the social, educational, and scientific issues associated with virtualization — including scalability, security, performance, and reliability — with the goal of creating infrastructure that enables everything from big-data analytics to the Internet of Everything (IoE).
The center also will offer opportunities designed to encourage more women to work in the tech industry. While women's participation in STEM fields continues to decline nationally, at SMU's Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering women have comprised more than 30 percent of incoming undergraduates, on average, since 2005 — exceeding the national average of about 20 percent.
"We believe innovation increases when there is diversity in the workforce," said AT&T Partner Exchange president Brooks McCorcle. "This new research center not only helps advance the latest technology solutions, but it also presents a way to tap a critical segment of tech leaders: women. Like AT&T, SMU is committed to building and expanding the base of technology talent. AT&T's endowment is a call to mobilize and activate the next generation of female technology leaders through educational opportunities, innovative research, and mentorship."