“There aren’t too many people walking this earth that could get away with calling themselves Creative Provocateurs, but Michael Sturtz is undoubtedly one of them. The list of achievements he has racked up over the past 25-odd years is beyond impressive, as these have been achieved in the unbroken ground beyond the known frontier of innovation across a number of fields of endeavor, and artistic disciplines.” – Tuia Innovation, Wellington, NZ
Michael Sturtz is an internationally acclaimed innovator, designer, educator, and artist. From his early years rebuilding cars and dissecting road-kill with his father, a surgeon, Michael has always been fascinated with the elegance and intricacies of how things work. His ability to approach any creative challenge with tenacity and innovation has made him a leader in the worldwide Maker movement and a champion for cross-disciplinary collaboration.
Michael found early success as a sculptor, fabricator, and product designer after earning his BFA from Alfred University and MFA at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1999, he set out to reinvent the idea of arts education and founded a school that encouraged truly non-competitive learning. The Crucible began with a conceptual design and a grant for $1,750, but quickly grew under Michael’s leadership to become the largest nonprofit industrial arts education facility in the country. Michael designed the facilities and programs, and the school now welcomes over 90 faculty and 8,000 students every year.
As part of The Crucible’s marketing and development outreach, Michael 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 audiences from around the country.
After twelve years at the helm, Michael retired from The Crucible and found new creative challenges at Stanford. In 2012, he accepted an appointment in the Mechanical Engineering Design Group to teach at Stanford’s d.school, where he spearheaded and then directed the ReDesigning Theater project. Two years later, he launched and led The Stanford Creative Ignition Lab at Autodesk in San Francisco, California, where he envisioned new ways to more purposefully bring the tools of invention and production seamlessly into creative processes. In early 2017, Michael was invited to lead the prototyping lab at Google X, where he led his own moonshot investigation and collaborated to pioneer the future of automated manufacturing.
Today, Michael finds himself at the center of two new and auspicious ventures. In 2019, he was tapped as lead consultant to Gracefield Innovation Quarter, a high-energy research and development district near Wellington, New Zealand. There, he hopes to lend his expertise to the country’s effort to lead worldwide innovation in environmentally restorative technology. More recently, he became an Edmund Hillary Fellow, joining world-class entrepreneurs and investors in New Zealand who are working to catalyze positive change in the world.
Michael continues to be an in-demand speaker, educator, and creative provocateur, igniting revolutions in thought, organizational development, and creative empowerment across the globe. His distinction as a force for creative transformation has earned him recognition among government and business leaders, community builders, innovators, educators, and artists worldwide.