2020 Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education Awarded to Stanford Educator


Thu, January 09, 2020

Washington , DC, United States, January 09, 2020 —

The National Academy of Engineering announced today that the 2020 Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education will be awarded to David Kelley of Stanford University “for formalizing the principles and curriculum of ‘design thinking’ to develop innovative engineering leaders with empathy and creative confidence to generate high-impact solutions.” The $500,000 annual award recognizes new methods and concepts in education aimed at developing effective engineering leaders.

The Gordon Prize ceremony will be held at Stanford University on Friday, March 13, 2020.

“We are honored to recognize David Kelley who has almost single-handedly transformed the way engineers are educated at Stanford and other universities,” said NAE President John L. Anderson. “Through his initiative of introducing ‘design thinking’ into engineering curricula, he stimulates engineers to seek innovation in solving human challenges in addition to technical ones.”

Kelley is Stanford University’s Donald W. Whittier Professor in Mechanical Engineering and the founder of its Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, informally known as the d.school.  He has taught for more than 35 years and directed the design program at Stanford for most of that time. Kelley is also founder of the global design company IDEO.

Kelley’s most enduring contributions are to human-centered design methodology and design thinking, a process for creative problem solving. He did not invent design thinking, as many of the elements of the process and even the term itself were in wide use in the design industry. However, through the organizations he founded, he simplified, streamlined, and formalized design thinking into a consistent and teachable philosophy. Kelley 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 his election to the National Academy of Engineering in 2000, Kelley’s work has been recognized with numerous honors, including the Chrysler Design Award, 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. Preparing the design thinkers of tomorrow earned him the Sir Misha Black Medal for his “distinguished contribution to design education.” Kelley holds honorary Ph.D.s from the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth, his alma mater Carnegie Mellon University, and Art Center College in Pasadena. He earned his B.S. in electrical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and his master’s degree in engineering/product design from Stanford University.

The Gordon Prize was established in 2001 as a biennial prize acknowledging new modalities and experiments in education that develop effective engineering leaders. Recognizing the potential to spur a revolution in engineering education, NAE announced in 2003 that the prize would be awarded annually.

The mission of the NAE is to advance the well-being of the nation by promoting a vibrant engineering profession and by marshalling the expertise and insights of eminent engineers to provide independent advice to the federal government on matters involving engineering and technology. The NAE is part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, an independent, nonprofit organization chartered by Congress to provide objective analysis and advice to the nation on matters of science, technology, and health.

Brandon  Green
Contact Brandon Green
Communications/Media Specialist
National Academy of Engineering
Deborah M. Young
Contact Deborah M. Young
Program Officer, Awards Program
National Academy of Engineering