News

June 2017   Product Realization Lab

Hochheimer Wins McMordie Spirit Award

Samuel Hochheimer (B.S. ’15, M.S .’17, Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University) was named the first recipient of the John McMordie Spirit Award at the PRL Commencement Dinner on June 15. PRL Directors David Beach, Craig Milroy, and Marlo Kohn established the award to honor the memory of Product Realization Lab Course Assistant John McMordie (BS ’16, MS ’17 awarded posthumously), who died of injuries suffered while running a marathon. The John McMordie Spirit Award was bestowed on Hochheimer because he embodies John’s spirit of generosity, joy, and intellectual rigor. Like McMordie, Hochheimer is a natural leader, a brilliant innovator, and a gifted teacher and mentor. During his two years as a PRL Course Assistant, Hochheimer inspired and encouraged hundreds of Stanford students to gain the skills and the confidence to believe they could change the world. The McMordie Award includes a monetary award and acknowledgment on a permanent plaque in the PRL.

March 2017   NBC Bay Area News

High Tech Cuban Entrepreneurs Tour the PRL

Tech startups are popping up across Cuba despite very low internet connectivity. Winners of the prestigious Cuban 10x10K tech competition convened in the Product Realization Lab with Silicon Valley execs and Stanford engineers to earn how to make the most of the island nation’s entrepreneurial spirit.

March 2017   Stanford University Department of Mechanical Engineering

Teaching Assistant John McMordie’s Lasting Legacy

The Product Realization Lab has established the McMordie Spirit Prize to honor the memory of our Teaching Assistant John McMordie BS ’15, MS ’17. John’s buoyant spirit, generous heart, and infectious joy touched all who knew him. John arrived in the Stanford Product Realization Lab with a passion to learn how to make things that were both beautiful and useful. McMordie was so gifted that he was selected to serve as a Product Realization Lab Teaching Assistant. As a TA, John spent hundreds of hours inspiring and encouraging hundreds of Stanford students to gain the skills and the confidence to believe they could change the world. Each spring, the John McMordie Spirit Prize will be bestowed on the Product Realization Lab Teaching Assistant who most closely embodies John’s spirit of generosity, joy, and intellectual rigor. The McMordie Prize includes a monetary award and acknowledgment on a permanent plaque in the PRL.

November 2016   MIT Project Manus

Associate Director Kohn Speaks at Academic Makerspace Conference

Stanford Product Realization Lab Associate Director Marlo Dreissigacker Kohn represented Stanford University at the International Symposium on Academic Makerspaces Conference held at MIT. Kohn presented at two plenary sessions: Alumni as Allies and Coaches and Their Impact: One Model for Empowering Teaching Assistants in an Academic Makerspace. The goals of the conference are to explore the measurable impact of higher education maker spaces on student learning and self-efficacy, and to establish best practices for these increasingly important learning spaces.

August 2016   Stanford University

The Loss of Teaching Assistant John McMordie

The Product Realization Lab Teaching Assistant John McMordie (BS ’16, Mechanical Engineering; MS expected ‘17) died of injuries he suffered while running. John was a natural leader, a brilliant innovator, a gifted teacher and mentor, and a beloved member of the PRL community. In recognition of his spirit, his family requests that blood donations in his memory be made to the American Red Cross. Stanford’s Product Realization Lab is planning a blood drive in his honor in October.

Summer 2016   NBC News

PRL Student Imagines a Bolder World

Product Realization Lab student Neal Ulrich (BS ’16, Product Design) shared his work and aspirations as a gay designer and maker with NBC News. Ulrich is currently a consultant for TechShop, the workshop/fabrication studio, and continue to create pathbreaking consumer goods that reflect a more inclusive view of the world.

May 2016   SF Chronicle

Innovations by the Next Generation

Featuring the hands-on, pragmatic engineering education fundamental to the Product Realization Lab.

January 2016   Model View Culture

Making Queer

A feature by Neal Ulrich (BS ’16) about his experiences being a gay engineer and maker at the PRL is among the "Top 25 of 2015" contributions to Model View Culture, an independent media platform covering technology, culture, and diversity. Ulrich’s goal is to design products that shed modes of thinking and doing that are deeply ingrained in society; he sees the transformative potential for queer designers and makers to offer new ways of navigating and thinking about the world.

October 2015   Stanford 125th

PRL Celebrates 125 Years of Making!

At Stanford, making is learning. But even the most creative student needs a place to begin. The Product Realization Lab has been that place since the university opened its doors in 1891. Today, student-designed products of wood, metal, cloth, stone, plastic and electronics come to fruition in a “maker space” open to all Stanford students.

September 2015   Stanford Report

Stanford Mascot Made In the Product Realization Lab

Stanford has a new mascot for the 2015-2016 academic year, and one of the PRL TAs helped to make it. Sara Young, this year’s Tree, worked on the sewn components and Jeff Kastenbaum, a member of the LSJUMB and PRL Teaching Assistant, pitched in to construct the aluminum frame. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the birth of a new mascot.

September 2015   Stanford Report

Distinguished Careers Institute Fellow Finds PRL Transformative

Raj Bhargava, one of two dozen fellows in Stanford’s Distinguished Careers Institute, honed his skills in design and making at the Product Realization Lab. DCI fellows are established leaders who spend a year at Stanford to recalibrate their career and life trajectories. As he moves back into the private sector following his fellowship year, Bhargava is exploring how to scale social ventures dependent on ongoing philanthropy.

July 2015   Royal Academy of Art, London

TA Leads Workshop at the Royal College of Art

David Bordow, MS ’15 and Product Realization Lab TA '13-'15, led a workshop at the Royal College of Art that focused on human-centered design principles to transform our perceptions of making and consuming food. Participants from eight countries experienced Bordow’s unique approach, which treats food as a material with qualities that can be augmented through rigorous experimentation. The Open Food Project, which sponsored Bordow's week-long fellowship, is a partnership between the Royal College of Art, Brunei University, and the University of Nottingham.

May 2015   Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian

PRL Alum Petravic Receives National Design Award

Robin Petravic (MFA ’97) and his wife and business partner Catherine Bailey have received the prestigious Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian National Design Corporate and Institution Award on behalf of Heath Ceramics. First launched at the White House in 2000 as an official project of the White House Millennium Council, the award is bestowed in recognition of excellence, innovation, and enhancement of the quality of life. Petravic (MFA ’97) and Bailey, owners of Heath since 2003, are known for placing a strong emphasis on world-class design, quality over quantity, production at a human scale, local manufacturing, social and environmental responsibility, and thoughtfully designed spaces that don’t just reflect its values, but also create them.

March 2015   Stanford Report

Hoop-Bots Compete for Championship

This year's ME210 competition, held in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd, featured bots that shoot and dunk as many "basketballs" as possible in under two minutes.

February 2015   Go Stanford

Stanford Rowing Has Deep Roots in Product Realization Lab

Stanford rowing has deep roots in engineering. Peter Dreissigacker (BS ’74, Mechanical Engineering), who rowed as an undergraduate, developed the first viable, affordable composite racing oar and later invented the stationary rowing machine.

November 2014   Stanford Report

Learning to Fly

In Mechanical Engineering course ME 202, Stanford students learn how to turn open-source smartphone operating systems into powerful control of mechatronic devices.

September 2014   Stanford Report

Students Make Cool Stuff for SF Zoo Animals in the PRL

A dozen Stanford Sophomore College designed ways to enrich the lives of the giraffe, lions, and kinkajou at the San Francisco Zoo. The students made their devices—including a lion pellet dispenser and a giraffe back-scratcher—during an intense weekend of work in the Product Realization Lab.

July 2014   International Design Awards

TA Alexander Bremer Wins International Design Award for Chair

Product Realization Lab TA Xander Bremer was awarded second prize in the International Design Award Home Interior Products Competition (Student Division) for his Cirro Chair. The IDA jury cited the work for its creativity, usability and innovation.

July 2014   The Stanford Report

Building a bicycle, one piece at a time

One of the most popular courses run by the Product Realization Lab, ME 204 teaches students how to build bicycles, but also patience and project management.

May 2014   San Francisco Chronicle

Stanford Arts Explosion Fueled in the PRL

Stanford students in the Interactive Art, Design, and Creation course are creating some amazing installation art pieces in the Product Realization Lab.

March 2014   STANFORD Report

Battle of the ‘Bots


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January 2014   STANFORD Daily

PRL TA Works to Cure Clubfoot

Physical mobility is a basic human desire, and every kid should have the chance to run.

January 2014   STANFORD Magazine

Forging My Comfort Zone

We turned metal into fire and then back into metal right across the street from Tresidder-—and this was my education.

January 2014   Stanford News Service


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In ME 203:Design and Engineering, students must master several manufacturing processes to design and build a final project. Things rarely go as well as planned, which is perfectly fine with Professor David Beach.

July 2012   Stanford Report

Design and Mechanical Engineering share a seat in Stanford's Product Realization Lab

Goldilocks would be hard-pressed to find fault with any of the chairs, designed by students for ARTSTUDI262

Fall 2013   Stanford Magazine

The Art of Engineering Metal


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October 2012   Stanford Magazine

Ahead of the Curve


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March 2012   Stanford Report

Stanford robots clash in class finale

Amid a cheering audience, student robots faced off in a "mechatronics" class showdown. In a nod to the political season, the autonomous machines raced to transport poker chips for Michelle Botman or Team Robama.

October 2009   Stanford Magazine

Home, Green Home

In 2003, when their old house began to feel cramped, Peter Skillman and his wife, Laurel, decided it was time to build their dream home.

July 2006   Stanford Magazine

Batteries Included

Senior designs an electric motorcycle.

July 2004   Stanford Magazine

A Class for 'Bike Nuts'

The half-circle fishmouth of steel tubing is flush against another tube, and sparks are flying—so they say.

June 2002   Stanford Report

Students fabricate a wine decanting cradle for a 100-pound wine bottle in the Product Realization Lab

When winemaker Peter Mondavi Jr. recently found himself facing a novel design problem, he turned to his former prof, mechanical engineer Dave Beach.

June 2001   Stanford Report

His Ph.D. beckoning, Clock Tower caretaker winding down his volunteer duties

Rob Bernier was a clockmaker-turned-engineering graduate student seven years ago when he began riding his bike past the Clock Tower near the School of Education.

May 1997   Stanford Report

Three faculty members named Bing teaching fellows

Product Realization Lab Director David Beach Selected for Bing Fellowship