Silicon Valley Design 1:

Engineers Model Systems



Do you need to make presentations on things you care about – to business and tech people? Long before TED Talks and PechaKuchas, Silicon Valley engineers were doing fine technical walkthrus, including the famous “Mother of All Demo's” by a precursor of Steve Jobs. Most likely, it was from these people, rather than school or innate genius, that Jobs learned to make his dazzling keynote speeches. This short course introduces the engineers who founded Silicon Valley, their presentations, and their mindset. It offers you their approache to design, with a focus on designing "demos" on things you care about, and for dazzling those listeners that you’ll be facing tomorrow.


  • Those who need to present in English to business or technical audiences
  • Creative professionals wishing to explore the origins and uses of design thinking.
  • Entrepreneurs and managers looking for case studies in leadership and innovation.
  • Teachers in Project-based Learning (PBL) or Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)
  • Fans of Steve Jobs wishing for a deep dive into one aspect of his many-sided genius


12 hrs (Schedule detail)

Class Size

Participant Minimum = 6; Maximum = 18


    • Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different (high-quality, commercial ebook, here)
    • Workbook (c. 20 pages - provided in course)


  • Playlist of famous technical walkthrus
  • Heuristics for designing walk-thrus and demos
  • Roll call of today’s demo heros and heroines


By the end of the course, participants are to know how to:

  • Identify engineers who founded Silicon Valley
  • Compare their academic vs. scientific vs. systems explanations
  • Develop systems models of phenomena (mental, verbal, logical, visual)
  • Inform demos, walk-thrus, and presenations by systems models
  • Design and deliver demos that engage business and technical audiences


Participants study Steve Jobs and his mentors, six Silicon Valley pioneers including Bob Noyce, founder of Intel and co-inventor of the computer chip. They pay special attention to how these engineers used systems modeling in the design of their professional lives, projects, and presentations. Participants use lessons learned to model things they care about and to do technical walkthrus like Valley engineers did...and still do.


1 Fred Terman – Electrical Engineering at Stanford

  • Academic, Scientific, and Systems Explanation
  • Elevator Speeches/Presentation Heuristics
  • Elevator Speeches as Explanation and Presentation

2 Hewlett, Packard and the "HP Way"

  • Technical Walkthru as Systems Explanation
  • Powerpoint, Slide Decks, and Presentation Tips
  • Jobs' Keynote Speeches –Overview

3 William Shockley – Transistor and Traitorous Eight

  • Cold War, Conflict, and Revolution in the Valley
  • Money and Values: Human Factors in Socio-technical Systems
  • Participant Organizations

4 Robert Noyce – "The Mayor of Silicon Valley"

  • Systems - Cybernetic vs. Human Activity
  • From Walkthru to Demo
  • Participant Organization Customers and Stakeholders

5 Nolan Bushnell Invents Video Games

  • Demo Metaphors: Video, Dream, Drama, Game, Journey
  • Steve Job's Macintosh Demo
  • Participants Design Demos

6 Douglas Englebert - The Design of Collective Intelligence

  • "Mother of All Demos"
  • Jobs Keynote Speeches - Lessons Learned
  • Participant Capstone Projects

Continued Learning Plan

  • Today's Demo Heros and Heroines
  • Becoming One of Them