Dave Staelin was a great friend of VMS and is sorely missed.
Dave and Alec Dingee founded VMS in 2000. Although they did not know each other previously, they were brought together by Dean of Engineering Robert Brown. He knew that they shared a vision – to provide aspiring entrepreneurs at MIT with hands-on help in bringing their ideas to market. He urged them to work together to start a mentoring service.
We want to share what Dave meant to us.
Bob Brown had the right idea getting Alec and Dave together. Dave was a highly respected faculty member and keen observer of the culture. He helped us anticipate difficulties as we navigated our way through the system. He was our guide star. He’d tell us: “Here’s who you talk to; here’s what you say; here’s how you go about it.” Dave’s guidance and counsel was key to the establishment and success of VMS.
Dave was our conscience. He was very exacting, which could be frustrating, but it worked very well for us. For instance, when we were writing The Bible (VMS document of guiding principles) we would confer frequently with lawyers and MIT leadership. Then we would turn to him for his scrutiny. His approval was like an insurance policy. He would read the minutes of every one of our meetings and would always respond! If he spotted a potential issue, he would warn us and advise us on how to proceed.
He was an excellent mentor. He took on the ventures with the most complex technical ideas. He provided great guidance and he engaged the resources of MIT to help.
He was a good friend. He was so warm. He would call me on the phone and say, “Sherwin – I have an idea!” I never knew what he was going to talk about. It could be an idea – about anything!!
He was unflappable and approached issues in a calm and reasonable manner – except when he’d get very excited and warn us, “You can’t do that!!” Whether it was developing VMS or mentoring a venture, he knew what could be done and could not be done. He was a real engineer. And a faculty member to the end.
We are very sad we have lost our good friend and colleague.
Dave was a highly respected faculty member and keen observer of the culture. He helped us anticipate difficulties as we navigated our way through the system. He was our guide star.