Director of the Product Realization Laboratory and co-Director of the Stanford Alliance for Innovative Manufacturing
Born the descendant of teachers, professors, tool & die makers and mill owners; it was inevitable that Dave would profess creation: design and manufacture. Born the son of a painter/museum director, he was likely to celebrate aesthetics and human values in design. In 1972 he accepted an offer to embrace what turned out to be the most satisfying calling in the world: helping Stanford students to physically create the products of their imagination, calculation, inspiration and teamwork. Beach has fathered a family, built a home, rebuilt a truck, built a stone wall, grown vegetables, written poems, welded aluminum, cast bonze, machined titanium, wielded a shovel, embraced CAD/CAM, and taught thousands of students something about design and manufacturing. Beach has embraced a second kind of teaching in his life. As a team, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever named Fire and Dave train and compete in obedience and field events. We are currently training for exercises including scent discrimination and directed jumping. This kind of teaching requires patience, consistency and lavish praise balanced with well timed corrections.
Michelangelo writes of the creative nature of fire: It is with fire blacksmiths iron subdue unto fairer form the image of their thoughts. Jacob Brownoski speaks of fire as an analytical tool to understand materials: Phoenix is the knife that cuts into the grain of nature. Fire, the flaming sword, is the knife that cuts below the visible structure…. Stephen Pyne observes that fire is power. The capture of fire by the genus Homo changed forever the history of the planet. Nothing else so empowered hominids, and no other human technology has influenced the planet for so long and so pervasively. Dave interprets fire as human energy, the talent and determination of our students as they design and build new products, environments, and services. As a teacher, Beach trusts his students. Sometimes engineers act as if their profession was the effective solving of problems assigned by others. Beach intends that his students will find work that is important and interesting to them, learn how to discover information that will advance that work, respect the power of others who offer wisdom and experience beyond the student’s personal experience, take responsibility for the consequences of their creative decisions, and gain confidence that they can change the world. Dave believes that tacit knowledge, the judgment and instinct born of designing and building things, combines with traditional engineering education to graduate creators of new things in life. As Director of the Product Realization Laboratory and co-Director of the Stanford Alliance for Innovative Manufacturing, and teacher, Dave brings to the d.School creativity in teaching, experience with design and manufacturing process, sensitivity for the human and aesthetic values of products, and huge enthusiasm for the enterprise.