About Me


My career has been dedicated to using design to improve the world, combining experience in corporate, consulting, and academic environments. For the last 20 years I have focused on teaching others how to use design methods to improve their lives, and the lives of others.

In particular I focus on designing for sustainability and the majority of the world's population who are under-served. I've done work in rural and developing communities around the world, closely collaborating with the people of those communities, and having my students on the ground so that they become intimately familiar with them. Nothing is better than seeing young students realize when they've had their worldview expanded by this exposure, and that they've been able to surprise a field-worker or a working mother by designing something that really meets their needs.

Currently I am an Associate Professor in the Design Department at SJSU (San José State University) in Silicon Valley. In addition to teaching a broad array of courses, I play a key role in shaping the vision and curriculum for the Industrial Design program. Prior to SJSU I was Associate Chair of the Industrial Design program at the California College of the Arts, with Steven Skov Holt as Chair. There we were early pioneers in sustainable design and user research at the undergraduate level.

My professional design career has included work at Philips, Dupont, frog design, and Praxis Design. In addition, I have continuously done consulting and research with people in under-served communities. I am also developing my craft as a jeweler.


  • Masters in Design (MDes), Product Design, Innovation, and Management. Middlesex University, London, UK (Thesis: Sustainability, Technology and Emerging Markets: Design for the Majority)
  • Graduate Studies in Industrial Design, ENSCI (École Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle), Paris, France.
  • Bachelor of Science (BSID), Industrial Design, Cal State Long Beach 

CV Download (PDF)


  • Awarded tenure at San José State University. 2011.
  • Mafua Ndem Chiara Lubich Development Award. LECDA-USA (Lebialem Cultural & Development Association), Cameroon. 2010.
  • Educator of the Year, Industrial Designers Society of America. 2009.


Partial list, see CV for full details.

Peer-Review Publications

  • 2016: Speer, Leslie E., Sansoni, Stefania., et al.  “Aesthetic of Prosthetic Devises: From Medical Equipment to a Work of Design”. Emotional Engineering, Vol. 4. Shuichi Fukuda. Springer International Publishing.
  • 2014: Speer, L.E., Reichert, G., “Simple Limb Institute: An Affordable Prosthesis for Everyone”, Colors of Care, Design & Emotion Society Conference Proceedings.
  • 2012: Osland, J., Speer, L.E., Turner, M., “Empathic Mindset and Product Development in Social Innovation”. Global Leadership Advancement Center and Social Innovation Institute (SI2) at SJSU.
  • 2009: Speer, L.E., Chang, J.P., “Design2 Collaboration + Sustainability”, Industrial Designers Society of America Proceedings.
  • 2008: Agogino, A.M., Beckman, S.L., Cobb, C.L., Speer, L.E., “Enabling and Characterizing Twenty-First Century Skills in New Product Development Teams”, Design and Engineering in A Flat World, Volume 24, No. 2.
  • 2006: Speer, L.E., “Walk A Mile in Their Shoes . . . Cultural Immersion and the Design Process”, Industrial Designers Society of America Education Symposium Proceedings.

Industry Publications

  • 2013: Speer, L., McClusky, J., Dassault Systems, “Case Study: Preparing Silicon Valley’s Future Innovators with Solidworks Education”, Spring 2013.
  • 2006: Speer, L., “Paradigm Shift”, Innovation. IDSA Quarterly Journal.
  • 2006: Speer, L., “HP DesignAbout Review”, www.idsa.org. January 2006.
  • 2003: Speer, L., “You Did What With What? A Report on Teaching Eco-Awareness and Changing ID Education”, Innovation, IDSA Quarterly Journal, Fall 2003.


Partial list, see CV for full details.

Juries, Workshops, Exhibitions

  • Invited panelist at Sciences and Justices Symposium at UC Santa Cruz, April, 2016
  • Lecturer for Cal State University Long Beach Duncan Anderson Lecture Series. 2105.
  • Jury member for IDEA Awards, Industrial Designers Society of America in collaboration with Businessweek. 2003, 2012, 2013.
  • Sustainable design workshop, Sarchi, Costa Rica. 2013
  • Innovation and creativity workshop, Ulaanbataar, Mongolia. 2012.
  • Juror for the Spark! Design Awards
  • Invited to be on jury of California Women in Environmental Design (CWED)
  • Juror for the Observeur du Design Awards in France, 2009.


  • Founder of Silicon Valley chapter of Industrial Designers Society of America.
  • Founder and Chair of the Design for the Majority interest section, Industrial Designers Society of America. 2011-2014.
  • Bay Area Chapter Chair, Industrial Designers Society of America. 1992-1993.
  • Faculty Advisor, IDSA Student Chapter at CCA and SJSU, 1997-2015