Donald W. Whittier Professor in Mechanical Engineering and founder of IDEO
David Kelley’s EE degree from CMU landed him in the engineering departments of NCR and Boeing, where he eventually discovered that the rigid world of corporate design was not for him. Through a friend, he learned about Stanford’s Joint Program in Design, and happily returned to school.
After earning his master’s in 1977 he started his own design firm, vowing to only work on cool projects with people he liked. The company he founded became IDEO, a worldwide leader in the user-centered design of products, services, and environments. IDEO is recognized as much for its process and culture as for its work. In May 2004 a Business Week cover article, “The Power of Design,” profiled IDEO and its work helping companies change the way they innovate.
David also began teaching design at Stanford in 1978, and became a tenured professor in 1990. David now heads Stanford’s d.school, and he is on a mission to add “design thinking” to Stanford’s existing competence of teaching analytical thinking. This will result in students who create delightful design experiences and embrace and promote a culture of innovation.
In Stanford’s 100-year retrospective on the people who most epitomized its tradition of academic excellence, David was recognized for encouraging “the melding of can-do spirit with limitless imagination.” In 2000, he was honored with the annual Chrysler Design Award and elected to the National Academy of Engineering, which recognized him for “affecting the practice of design.” In 2001 the Smithsonian Institute presented David and IDEO with a National Design Award. In 2002, he was named the Donald W. Whittier Professor in Mechanical Engineering. Most recently, David received the 2005 Sir Misha Black Medal for his “distinguished services to design education.”