Carnegie Mellon University

Commencement Weekend

May 18-19, 2019

David M. Kelley (E 1973)

Donald W. Whittier Professor in Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University
Founder, Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, Stanford University
Founder, IDEO

Honorary Doctor of Science and Technology


David M. Kelley is the founder of the global design and innovation company IDEO and Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (commonly referred to as the

After earning a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, Kelley worked as an engineer at Boeing and NCR. He entered Stanford University in 1975 where he earned his master’s degree in engineering/product design.

In 1978, he founded the design firm that would become IDEO. In that same year, he 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.

Kelley was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering in 2000. He holds honorary Ph.D.s from the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth and the Art Center College in Pasadena. He 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.”

As Stanford’s Donald W. Whittier Professor in Mechanical Engineering, Kelley is the academic director of both degree-granting undergraduate and graduate programs in design within the School of Engineering and has taught classes in the program for more than 35 years.

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