Kim Saxe, director of Nueva’s Innovation Lab and Design Thinking program, will head the Design Thinking Institute. She is an experienced workshop leader with a passion for helping schools and teachers provide rich experiences for their students. Click here for a more detailed biography.

Workshop Leaders

Scott Swaaley, co-director - Scott is the Assistant Director of the Nueva I-Lab and an I-Lab Engineer. He teaches Design Engineering, Engineering & Fabrication, and Electronics courses at both the upper and middle school. Scott earned a BS in Electrical Engineering from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo before serendipity guided him to a second career in teaching. After getting his credential at High Tech High School in San Diego, Scott went on to found a project-based learning and social and emotional learning consultancy called GRITLab then joined the Nueva School in June of 2016. Scott's work with students has been recognized in the documentary films Most Likely to Succeed and Beyond Measure. He has also been recognized by the Paul G. Allen Foundation, Google, San Diego Foundation, Aerospace Physiology Society, McGraw Hill, Education Week, and the Teaching Channel. In his free time, Scott enjoys writing about experiental education, playing with his WWII era engine lathe, and fiddling with electronics. 

Steve Westwood - Steve is a Technology, Innovation Design and Engineering coach at The Nueva School. He teaches Nueva's 4th and 5th grade Design Engineering courses, teachers Advanced Fabrication Techniques and Stagecraft electives, runs I-Lab Recess and supports students with CAD, laser-cutting, 3D printing, woodworking, and electronics projects. Steve holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, where he was a member of the second freshman class. He has amassed a broad and systems-oriented skillset working as a theater technician, NASA researcher, machinist, robotics instructor, and science, design, and engineering teacher. He is the person to talk to about mechanical fabrication and enjoys building things ranging from wood-burning stoves to machine vision systems for automated microscopes.

Michelle Grau - Michelle is an I-Lab engineer in her fifth year of teaching at The Nueva School. She teaches engineering, design thinking, and robotics. Michelle graduated from Stanford University with a BS in mechanical engineering and a concentration in design with a physics minor in astronomy. She also researched in the field of engineering education for several years. Her love of mechanical engineering came from her time on her high school First Robotics Competition (FRC) team, where she also developed her love for teaching through mentoring middle school FIRST Lego League (FLL) teams. She has started, coached, and mentored robotics teams for the past 9 years. This is Michelle's fourth year working at the Nueva Design Thinking Institute. 


Both sessions will be held at or near Nueva's new Upper School Campus in San Mateo, California or Nueva's Middle and Lower School Campus in Hillsborough, California. The sessions will include time in at least one of our Innovation Labs. Come experience the magic!

Kim Saxe, director of the Innovation Lab at The Nueva School and lecturer at Stanford University, is a long time educator, and former engineer and R&D director. She has been teaching for over 20 years, the last 14 at Nueva. Kim is routinely visited by teams of educators from all over the world who are looking to implement Design Thinking programs in their own countries.

Kim is a pioneer in the field of Design Thinking and Design Engineering in education. She has invented and taught constructivist, project-based curricula across all subject areas in grades K-8. She is able to translate the mindsets and methodologies of Design Thinking, taught to Master's degree students at Stanford, into compelling and broadening experiences for younger students.

Kim directs the Design Thinking, Design Engineering, and Entrepreneurship programs at Nueva. She continually re-invents Nueva's inspiring and ever-changing 4,000 sq. ft. Innovation Lab, which was designed in partnership with Stanford's Institute of Design ( She also oversees the school's award-winning, competitive robotics and Tech Challenge teams. Kim has created and piloted a student engineering curriculum that is now taught to all 4th-6th grade students at Nueva.

Kim has run many workshops for teachers, administrators, and adults on Design Thinking and curriculum development, both at Nueva and at Stanford's She has also taught special courses for a venture capital firm and an interior decorating firm. Additionally, she regularly speaks at conferences, such as the NAIS Annual Conference, the Maker's Faire, and Nueva Innovative Learning Conference. She was one of four speakers invited to present at a Design Thinking Conference in Singapore. She is passionate about Design Thinking and how it can truly transform people's lives, and thus the world.

You can reach Kim on twitter @kimsaxe or by email at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.