UTDesign Earns Tech Titans Award for Partnerships that Benefit Students, Businesses

Dr. Mark Spong and Rod Wetterkog

Dean of the Jonsson School Mark Spong celebrates UTDesign's success with Rod Wetterskog, UTDesign program coordinator and assistant dean of corporate relations for the school.

UTDesign, the corporate-sponsored capstone senior design program in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, has won the 2013 Tech Titans of the Future Award given by the Metroplex Technology Business Council, the largest technology trade association in Texas.

UTDesign, which allows businesses to benefit from the skills, energy and enthusiasm of talented seniors and faculty members who work on projects for their companies, was among three Jonsson School honorees at the Tech Titans event.

Dr. Kevin Hamlen, associate professor of computer science in the Jonsson School, was a finalist in another category. Incoming bioengineering freshman Tommy Fabyan was recognized with a scholarship.

The Tech Titans of the Future – University Level Award, won by UTDesign, is given to accredited educational institutions in the Dallas-Fort Worth area that encourage and support students in choosing engineering and technology-related disciplines as preferred career paths. The award recognizes curricula and incentives that perpetuate technology knowledge transfer.

Dr. Mark W. Spong, dean of the Jonsson School and the Lars Magnus Ericsson Chair in Electrical Engineering and the Excellence in Education Chair, founded UTDesign in fall 2009.

“The North Texas business community is the perfect place to do this,” he said. “So many companies are  eager to have a nationally competitive research university in their backyard. The support we get is tremendous.”

Corporations that have sponsored UTDesign teams this past semester include Kasling Aircraft Co, No Magic, PepsiCo and Texas Instruments. More than 500 students have participated in the program since its inception. Fall will be a record-breaking semester with an expected 140 seniors participating. Several team projects are now offered as part of product lines, making significant profits for the companies, said Rod Wetterskog, UTDesign program coordinator.

“Companies benefit from the knowledge transferred from the students who are being taught the latest innovations in their field,” said Wetterskog, who is also assistant dean of corporate relations for the Jonsson School.  “Students benefit by testing the technical skills that they have learned. The partnerships between students and business mentors have led to internships and even full-time jobs.”

UT Design team at Tech Titans award ceremony

Members of the UTDesign team (from left): Dr. Marco Tacca, senior lecturer and project director; Dr. Robert Hart, senior lecturer and project director; Dr. Jey Veerasamy, outgoing project director and director of computer science outreach; Rod Wetterskog, UTDesign program coordinator; Nancy Finch, corporate care coordinator; and Andrea Turcatti, assistant program coordinator.

One such student is Kyle Wippert, who graduated in May 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in software engineering. His UTDesign project was sponsored by the software development company No Magic. The goal was to take traditional accounting data and represent the content in a visual format.

“UTDesign changed my life,” said Wippert, who attended the Tech Titans award presentation. “It’s why I am where I am today.”

After graduation, No Magic hired Wippert and two other teammates to create a marketing project. When that was finished, Wippert consulted for the company and assisted in developing an international standards model for representing financial data in a common and shareable format. Wippert then transitioned to sales engineer for the company before he returned to UTDesign this past spring, this time as a corporate sponsor and technical director for a new group of UTDesign students.

By this time, UTDesign had expanded to include students from the Naveen Jindal School of Management.

“This enhanced our project because it allowed the computer science students to view the initial design of the project through a marketing perspective and gain a better understanding of how different departments interact in a corporate environment,” Wippert said. “In addition to helping the students see the value of collaboration and integration, No Magic had insight into a younger generation’s marketing approach.”

MTBC Awards UT DallasFreshman a ScholarshipUT Dallas student Tommy Fabyan (left) recieved a scholarship from the MTBC at the gala. He is with Dr. Robert Rennaker, head of the Department of Bioengineering.

UT Dallas freshman Tommy Fabyan was named the first recipient of a scholarship from the Metroplex Technology Business Council established in honor of former Texas State Sen. Florence Shapiro, who spent years advocating for math, science and technology education in the Texas Legislature.

Fabyan, who graduated from Plano East Senior High School in May with a 4.1 grade point average, will pursue a degree in biomedical engineering.

“When I got down to what mattered most about a college educational experience, I realized that UT Dallas had a better engineering program than some of the other schools I was considering,” he said at the recent Tech Titans awards event.

'Frankenstein' CreatorNamed Inventor FinalistDr. Kevin Hamlen was named a finalist for his work on tools for cybersecurity.

Dr. Kevin Hamlen, senior technical advisor in the Cyber Security Research and Education Institute (CSI), was a finalist in the Tech Titans Technology Inventor category.

Last fall, he made two significant breakthroughs in the field of computer security. He and a graduate student created a program known as “Frankenstein” that can defeat virtually all existing commercial antivirus products and can be used as a tool against cyberattacks.

He also advanced a new virus defense technology called binary stirring that can protect software from a specific type of programming attack.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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