Professor David M. Kelley
Professor David M. Kelley Gordon Prize
Donald W. Whittier Professor in Mechanical Engineering, Hasso Plattner Institute of Design Stanford University
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  • Gordon
Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education
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David Kelley is the founder of Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, informally known as the, and the founder of the global design company, IDEO. As Stanford’s Donald W. Whittier Professor in Mechanical Engineering, he has taught for more than 35 years and directed the design program at Stanford for most of those years. 

In 1978 Professor Kelley founded the design firm that became IDEO and, also that year, began his teaching career at Stanford, receiving tenure in 1990. He also founded an early-stage venture capital firm in 1984 called Onset, and was instrumental in starting a special effects firm called Edge Innovations, which creates unique animatronics for the film industry.

His most enduring contributions are in human-centered design methodology and design thinking. He is passionate about using design to help unlock creative confidence in everyone from students to business executives. A frequent speaker on these topics, he and his brother Tom co-authored the New York Times best-selling book Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All.

In addition to an election to the National Academy of Engineering, Professor Kelley’s work has been recognized with numerous honors, including the Chrysler Design Award and the National Design Award in Product Design from the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, the Robert Fletcher Award from Dartmouth, and the Edison Achievement Award for Innovation. Preparing the design thinkers of tomorrow earned him the Sir Misha Black Medal for his “distinguished contribution to design education.” And he holds honorary PhDs from the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth, his alma mater, Carnegie Mellon University, and Art Center College in Pasadena.

He earned his BS in electrical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and his master’s degree in engineering/product design from Stanford University.

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  • Gordon
  • 2020
  • For formalizing the principles and curriculum of “design thinking” to develop innovative engineering leaders with empathy and creative confidence to generate high-impact solutions.