Take 18-year-old Philip Streich. His method for untangling carbon nanotubes may well pave the way to the creation of a space elevator. Daniel Asturius’s geothermal energy generator could produce three times as much power as a nuclear plant. Samantha Hopkins? After she built her own log cabin at the age of nine, she went on to design a lunar chamber that can grow food without soil, self-heal punctures, and shrink to the size of a backpack for easy portability.
Anne Swift, the founder of Young Inventors International, an organization that helps inventors develop, patent, and license their inventions, says that youth, far from being a handicap, often works to inventors’ advantage. “Young innovators might not realize what is possible, so they tend to dream big,” she says. “They look at it and say, Wow, we can do this.”
Here, meet some of the most promising youth to hit the invention scene, and find out which institutions of higher learning will lay claim to their genius.