In 2016-17, Stanford is a $5.9 billion enterprise. It is one of the top universities in the world with more than 12,000 employees. With great academic strength, wealth, and proximity to Silicon Valley, Stanford is one of the most successful universities in creating companies and licensing its inventions to existing companies. It is often held up as a model for technology transfer.
Stanford's faculty and former faculty includes 31 Nobel laureates, as well as 19 recipients of the Turing Award, known as the ‘Nobel Prize of computer science’, comprising one third of the awards given in its 44-year history.
With such an amazing faculty staff nourishing the brightest minds, exploring the most intriguing mysteries of the universe, and addressing the most complicated challenges facing society, one could expect Stanford to be arrogant.
While being the best and having confidence to take risks to innovate, with numerous successes, Stanford has made sure its confidence does not change to arrogance – by being humble.
While visiting the University last week, I met with one of the most humble professors I’ve ever met, David Beach, Professor (Teaching) of Mechanical Engineering, who has been working at Stanford for more than 45 years.
Beach is a co-director of the Product Realization Laboratory, one of the most unique teaching projects in the world. The lab provides 1,700 students annually with hands-on experiences in product definition, conceptual design, detail design, and prototype creation.
Beach explains the operations of the lab with great passion. Most engineering students have some experience taking courses in the lab, such as Manufacturing and Design, Medical Devices Design and Computer-Aided Product Creation.
But the lab is much more than a place for students to do coursework. While many of the projects are related to students’ research, some are simply an extension of students’ hobbies.