Friends remember Bryant Tan

Dec. 4, 2014, 4:50 p.m.
(Courtesy of Max Praglin.)

In its final print issue of the year, The Daily remembers two students the Stanford community lost in 2014.

On June 29 this year, Stanford co-terminal student Bryant Tan passed away after a mountaineering accident in Triglav National Park in Slovenia while hiking alone.

Friends remember Tan as a quiet, hard-working “British kid” who strived for perfection in all that he did.

“If he saw something wrong, he would do something about it,” said friend Max Praglin ’14 M.S. ’15. “He was a really clever guy.”

According to the memorial website created by his parents after his death, Tan was born in San Mateo, California, and spent much of his childhood traveling around the world with his parents. After his birth, his family moved to Germany and then London, where Tan would attend school for the next 13 years, until Tan started at Stanford in 2010.

He started piano lessons in 2001 and picked up the violin in 2002, studying with various teachers and earning numerous awards, including the Bach Cup at the Richmond Performing Arts Festival in 2005.

According to the website, Tan joined the Solar Car Project as a freshman and participated in the World Solar Challenge in Australia, working on the car Xenith, created by the Stanford team. He spent the summer of 2011 interning at Facebook, the summer of 2012 interning at Addepar, an investment tech company, and the summer of 2013 at SpaceX, after which he accepted a post-graduation job offer.

Tan graduated in June of this year with both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in electrical engineering. He was also the recipient of the Frederick Emmons Terman Engineering Scholastic Award for outstanding academic achievement, according to his memorial website.

Many friends remember Tan’s enthusiasm for adventure and exploration, which came together in his passion for mountaineering.

“Bryant and I went to Iceland together about two weeks before he passed and…he was the one who was able to navigate us off [the glacier],” said Evan Shieh BS ’14, one of Tan’s Phi Psi brothers. “That’s probably one of my most recent and strongest memories of him because he was really doing what he loved when he died…In that particular incident [in Iceland], he was the one who planned out the trip and out of the group of four of us, he was the one who was able to get us out of it and I wish we could’ve been there for him [when he died].”

Shieh, who had known Tan for two years before his death, added that Tan was always the type of person to pursue adventures in the outdoors.

“One of his quotes that he really likes to follow was ‘it’s either gonna be an epic win or an epic fail but either way it’s gonna be really epic,’” Shieh said. “I think that’s one part of his character that really highlights his love for the outdoors and his love of adventure.”

For Praglin, what he really loved about Tan’s personality was his sense of humor.

“We were roommates sophomore year and our RA would always scare us in our room,” he said. “We had to get back at him, so Bryant created this device with a really loud beeping, so that if you turned off the light it would start beeping…our RA would turn his light back on and the beeping would stop…[Tan] would find the most clever way to deal with something.”

Praglin added that he was amazed to see the amount of response from the Stanford community and larger community after Tan’s death.

“I was impressed by the people who all came together [after his death] because there were so many people,” he said. “Everyone really respected him.”

Contact Josee Smith at jsmith11 ‘at’

Bryant’s family has asked that friends send pictures of Bryant to rememberbryant ‘at’ They have also set up a memorial site in his honor at

In the print version of this article that appeared on Dec. 3, Tan’s name was misspelled in a headline and caption. The Daily sincerely regrets this error. The piece will be rerun in print on Jan. 5, 2015. 

Josee Smith is a senior this year, majoring in anthropology with a minor in Spanish. She is the desk editor for the student groups beat and has spent her last 3 years at The Daily as both a staff writer and contributing writer. Originally from Washington State, Josee came to California for the warm weather and stayed for the awesome reporting. To contact her, please email jsmith11 'a'

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