Our team

“We couldn’t be more different, except for our shared values. And that makes working together enjoyable.”

Michael Sturtz

Michael Sturtz

Founder / Executive Director of The Stanford Creative Ignition Lab and Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering - Design

Michael comes to the d.school with over twenty years of experience as a teacher, builder, manifestor, and facilitator in a variety of creative fields.
His early fascination with design and engineering came from his father’s diligent efforts to raise Michael to follow in his footsteps as an orthopedic surgeon. When not dissecting road kill or spending time in the operating room with his father, he was rebuilding cars and motorcycles at his stepfather’s auto body shop.

These two influences were apparent in Michael’s early work. He found success as a sculptor, fabricator, and product designer, earning his BFA from Alfred University School of Art and Design and MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Even in school Michael was a maverick, building wild sculptures that wedded different materials, exploring the intersection between anatomy and mechanics, always with a challenging social commentary.

In 1999 Michael set out to reinvent the idea of arts education, founding an art school that encourages a truly non-competitive learning environment. The Crucible started with only a conceptual design and a grant for $1,750, growing rapidly under Michael’s leadership to become the nation’s largest nonprofit industrial arts education facility. Michael designed facilities and programs that house 70 faculty and over 8,000 students annually.

Michael’s ability to approach creative challenges with tenacity and innovation made him a leader in the worlds of art and theater, opening new frontiers for cross-disciplinary collaboration. As part of The Crucible’s marketing and development outreach he designed, directed, and produced stunning theatrical events uniting industrial arts processes with stagecraft and all manner of performing arts. His Fire Arts Festivals, Fire Operas, and Fire Ballets defined a new genre of entertainment in the Bay Area and attracted extremely diverse audiences from around the country.

After twelve years at the helm, Michael retired from The Crucible to seek out new creative challenges, and found them at Stanford. Michael accepted a teaching appointment in the Mechanical Engineering Design Group. He has been teaching at Stanford’s d.school, where he directed the ReDesigning Theater Project, and is now the Founder and Executive Director of the Stanford Creative Ignition Lab. This new lab is exploring the potential for visual, experiential, and embodied thinking to advance the future of learning, design, and making. The program aims to pioneer new ways to more purposefully bring the tools of invention and production seamlessly into our creative processes.

In addition to his work at Stanford, Michael does consulting for organizational development. Focusing on an international audience, he brings his inspiring leadership and perspective on arts education to groups in places like Costa Rica, Panama, Turkey, sparking creativity and design thinking around the world.

When not trying to reinvent the world, Michael enjoys restoring his 1875 Victorian home, building in his studio, and conducting experimental cooking adventures.  You can see his work at michaelsturtz.com.

Who’s here in 2016-2017

Our Broader Network

These superstars have been a part of our teaching teams, fellows, staff or founding team. They continue to do amazing work at Stanford and in the world.

  • Abby King
  • Adam French
  • Alex Kazaks
  • Alex Ko
  • Amal Aziz
  • Anja Svetina-Nabergoj
  • Anne Fletcher
  • Anne Gibbon
  • Barry Katz
  • Ben Grossman-Kahn
  • Brett Westervelt
  • Brian Witlin
  • Brit D'Arbeloff
  • Caitria O'Neill
  • Carly Geehr
  • Carol Winograd
  • Caroline O'Connor
  • Carr Wilkerson
  • Charlie Ellinger
  • Claudia Kotchka
  • Colter Leyes
  • Corey Ford
  • Corina Yen
  • Dan Bomze
  • Daniel Steinbock
  • David Klaus
  • Elizabeth Gerber
  • Emily Ma
  • Enrique Allen
  • Erica Estrada
  • Erika Basu
  • Erin Liman
  • Eugene Korsunskiy
  • Evelyn Huang
  • Fred Leichter
  • Gayle Curtis
  • Guido Kovalskys
  • James Monsees
  • Jason Chua
  • Jason Conroy
  • Jenny Stefanotti
  • Jim Ratcliffe
  • Joe Brown
  • Joel Sadler
  • Jofish Kaye
  • John Keefe
  • John Kembel
  • John Lilly
  • Jules Sherman
  • Kerry O’Connor
  • Kim Jacobson
  • Kim Saxe
  • Kris Woyzbun
  • Krista Donaldson
  • Larry Leifer
  • Lia Siebert
  • Lochlann Jain
  • Maryanna Rogers
  • Matt Haney
  • Maureen Caroll
  • Meg Lee
  • Mel Lee
  • Micah Lande
  • Michael Shanks
  • Mike Levinthal
  • Molly Wilson
  • Nat Woyzbun
  • Neema Moraveji
  • Nitzan Waisberg
  • Olga Trusova
  • Peter Rubin
  • Peter Sims
  • Purin Phanichphant
  • Rich Crandall
  • Sandy Speicher
  • Scott Klemmer
  • Susan Hosking-Ramos
  • Tammy Goodall
  • Taylor Cone
  • Uri Geva
  • Wendy Ju
  • Yusuke Miyashita