“Education may be the only thing people still believe in the United States. To question education is really dangerous. It is the absolute taboo. It’s like telling the world there’s no Santa Claus.” – Peter Thiel

One of Silicon Valley’s most successful, and controversial brainchild’s, Peter Thiel knew there was a reason there wasn’t enough innovation and progress in the US. He believed that some of the most visionary people were not getting the opportunity to develop their ideas because of student debt, and that in some instances, by the time today’s geniuses got out of college – they had missed the window of opportunity to unleash their brilliant ideas to the world.

20 Under 20: Transforming Tomorrow is series by Peter Theil designed to find tomorrow’s titans of innovation today. Thousands of people applied for the show, however only 20 walked away with a two-year fellowship and $100,000.

This documentary, which has already aired in the US, was surrounded by praise and controversy, as it questions the US education system, and in words of Peter Theil, encourages contestants to “stop out of school”.

But what makes these contestants so special? College is not for everyone after all, however in the instance of the 20 winners who walked away with the cash prize to develop their ideas, we’re not just talking about any college drop-outs. Imagine telling the parents of the youngest person in history to create nuclear fusion (at the tender age of 14) that he shouldn’t go to college?

Here’s a little more about some of the winners we’re most excited to follow. Watch this space, we’re very hopeful that their cash prize and the support of the fellowship will lead to significant changes in the healthcare, education and technology industries that will not only influence the US, but potentially the world.

Noor Siddiqui
This 17-year-old high school student, has set her sights high and is striving to lift one billion of the world’s most disadvantaged people out of poverty with her Thiel Fellowship.

Paul Sebexen and Kettner Griswold
These two young hopefuls want to revolutionize genetics by finding a way your doctor can sequence your genome, detect any mutations, and print out a treatment plan – all while you’re sitting in their office.

Semon Rezchikov
Through synthetic biology (a new area of biology that combines science and engineering) Semon hopes to find a way to easily replace a failing organ, or re-engineer your immune system to cure a particular disease.

Taylor Wilson
This is no ordinary teenager. At the age of 14, Taylor was the youngest person in history to create nuclear fusion and now hopes to make new breakthroughs in a range of fields – from energy to medicine to counter-terrorism.

Anand Gupta and Tony Ho
Together, these brainchilds dropped out of Harvard as they knew the development of their technology could not wait. They are currently finding a way to help doctors catch cancer and other complex diseases before it’s too late.

Connor Zwick
Connor also turned his back on Harvard to focus full-time on his passion – creating the ultimate online educational tool that will shake the education system up.

Impressive, right? We’re so excited to see the progress of these young hopefuls. Tell us what you think of Peter Theil’s idea to nurture and develop some of the brightest brains to follow their passion rather than following the conventional route of going to college.

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