Three innovators named Stanford Engineering Heroes


Engineers are pragmatists and problem solvers who tend to focus on outcomes and solutions, so much so that their accomplishments are often overlooked. Honoring these underappreciated specialists is one of the reasons for the Stanford Engineering Heroes program.

PERRY MCCARTY, professor emeritus of civil and environmental engineering; Netflix founder and CEO REED HASTINGS; and MARTIN FISHER, co-founder of KickStart International, are the latest additions to a list of notables honored since the program was established in 2010.

“We are privileged to add Perry McCarty, Reed Hastings and Martin Fisher to the list of engineers whose contributions have advanced social and economic progress,” said PERSIS S. DRELL, dean of Stanford School of Engineering.

McCarty, the Silas H. Palmer Professor of Civil Engineering, Emeritus, has been an environmental science and engineering pioneer since he joined the Stanford faculty in 1962. He has devoted his career to the discovery of how to create micro-environmental ecosystems to cleanse water of human waste and reduce groundwater pollution. Among his professional honors, he accepted the Stockholm Water Prize in 2007, confessing at the time to a fascination with septic systems.

Since co-founding Netflix in 1997, Hastings has helped to transform the family room and reshape the pursuit of leisure. A former artificial intelligence student who earned his master’s degree from Stanford in 1988, Hastings has applied computer science to the delivery, recommendation and production of televised entertainment, while also remaining personally active as a philanthropist and policymaker in the field of education.

Fisher co-founded KickStart International on the belief that technology, when appropriately applied, can change lives for the better. Fisher earned his doctorate in theoretical and applied mechanics from Stanford in 1985. Today he leads a multicultural, multidisciplinary team that develops tools like the KickStart MoneyMaker irrigation pump, which enables farmers to boost their incomes tenfold. Fisher estimates that KickStart tools generate more than $170 million in new profits and wages annually, and have helped more than 1 million people permanently escape poverty.

Engineering Heroes are chosen from among Stanford Engineering alumni and former faculty by a panel of technology experts and historians who pay special attention to the broad and beneficial outcomes of nominees’ works. The addition of McCarty, Reed and Fisher bring the number of honorees to 35.

Read the full story on the School of Engineering website.