Change begins at Georgia Tech, and for proof, look no further than the 2023 Forbes 30 Under 30 list, which features eight Yellow Jackets. Spanning the medical, energy, manufacturing, social, and e-commerce sectors, these Tech graduates — selected from a candidate pool of 12,000 for 600 spots across 20 categories — exemplify the innovation and drive that takes place across campus daily.
With an 80% unemployment rate among neurodivergent individuals, Mentra founders and Georgia Tech graduates Jhillika Kumar and Conner Reinhardt are working to close that gap as the world’s largest neurodivergent employment network.
One in seven people worldwide are neurodivergent, including Kumar’s brother, who, despite being nonverbal, can write poetry in several languages and communicate via typing.
“Georgia Tech continues to push the boundaries of innovation every day. Personally, Tech pushed me to go above and beyond my classes to connect with faculty, pursue research in the School of Interactive Computing, speak at TEDxGeorgia Tech, take entrepreneurship courses with CREATE-X, and attend Grace Hopper as a keynote speaker where I shared my passion for disability advocacy. All this would have not been possible without the incredible mentors at Tech who believed in me and fostered my passion to serve others,” Kumar said.
With a 97% one-year retention rate, Mentra has connected dozens of individuals with new jobs through partnerships with 31 universities and employers in both the public and private sectors. Along with meeting Kumar through TEDxGeorgiaTech, Reinhardt credits Georgia Tech for setting him up for success upon graduation.
“While Georgia Tech may not come with a location in the heart of Silicon Valley or Ivy League connections, it stands apart in forging scrappy entrepreneurs for a reason. My path at Tech was not linear. With back-to-back time off for a solo exchange to Australia and an eight-month internship at Tesla, I appreciated the opportunity to get out in the real world and build both my confidence and skill set as an engineer. Georgia Tech’s wealth of opportunity is not a one-size-fits-all, and that’s what makes it special.”
As an undergraduate in Georgia Tech’s biomechanical engineering program, Cambre Kelly developed a passion for early-stage medical technologies. She went on to co-found restor3d — a commercial-stage medical device manufacturer creating personalized orthopedic devices using 3D printing, biomaterials, biomechanics, and artificial intelligence — in 2017.
Through advanced digital presurgical planning and in-house manufacturing, restor3d specializes in orthopedic reconstructions in the lower and upper extremities as well as spine, trauma, and orthopedic oncology.
“I’m incredibly proud of the work the restor3d team does every day, and our commitment to improving the lives of the patients we help. Making the list is a huge honor, and I’m happy to see this year’s list bring recognition to a diverse group of change-makers who are working hard to benefit others,” Kelly said.
“If you want to change the world, you’re at Georgia Tech. You can do that.”
Currently serving as the director of engineering with Renewvia Solar Africa, Nicholas Selby took his own advice from his viral 2013 New Student Convocation speech. The solar developer’s efforts on the continent include the installation and upkeep of mini-grids providing sustainable power to over 20,000 people and growing.
“Joining the Georgia Tech Solar Racing team prepared me to succeed not only by introducing me to the incredible power of photovoltaic technology, but also by teaching me the leadership and engineering fundamentals I use building solar mini-grids across Africa,” he said.
Selby came to Georgia Tech with the dream of building the Iron Man suit, but now says he found more rewarding work elsewhere.
“I said in my speech that ‘Green energy and world peace can wait.’ Now I’m working for a solar mini-grid company. Honestly, having worked with a DOD group working on Iron-Man technology, I find the engineering challenges of solar rural electrification more intellectually stimulating and the applications more personally rewarding,” he said.
As automation and the automobile industry continue to grow alongside one another, Allyson McKinney and her team at SoloPulse have developed software to unlock the full potential of radar with the goal of assisting automakers in the move from advanced driver-assistance systems to full autonomy.
McKinney turned her interest in radar and electromagnetics into a career while working with the Georgia Tech Research Institute and earning her master’s degree. Awestruck by the potential of a radar technology introduced by Christopher Barnes — an associate professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering —McKinney joined the Independent Research and Development program and the Venture Lab Female Founder program. During this time, she met SoloPulses’s CTO and COO.
“I am passionate about entrepreneurship, and I wanted to bring the radar work that we had built at Georgia Tech into the world. Tech’s traditional classes taught me so much, but the network of mentors is what truly has empowered me, SoloPulse technology, and the SoloPulse team. This recognition validates the innovation ecosystem within Georgia Tech, the brilliant minds that lead research here, and the flourishing programs like Venture Lab and the Female Founders program, which bridge the gap between research and commercialization.”
Along with her work at SoloPulse, McKinney will soon complete a Ph.D. program at Tech.
Inspired by his own experience trying to get the products he needed as quickly as possible, Sneh Parmar sought to shake up the ever-expanding e-commerce space and give consumers an upper hand by co-founding Lucky.
“Imagine you’re buying your favorite brand’s product online, and instead of waiting a week to get it shipped from a warehouse that’s in a different state, you can pick up the product or get it delivered the same day from the closest store with the product on the shelf. E-commerce and retail no longer have to be thought of as different channels, but pieces that work together to provide the best experience for the consumer,” he explained.
While earning his bachelor’s degree at Georgia Tech, Parmar learned how to build a business as he worked alongside entrepreneurs and direct-to-consumer brands. Parmar sees his inclusion, and that of his fellow alumni, on the Forbes list as validation of Tech’s strengths.
“Georgia Tech has always been regarded as a high-caliber institution that pushes the boundaries in engineering and sciences, but now it’s becoming a nexus for entrepreneurship. I hope this shows students that they can do anything they want, and, using the resources available to them by attending Georgia Tech, they can do something truly at a global scale,” Parmar said.
With a master’s in computer science from Georgia Tech, Zhenyu Zhang has been recognized for his role in the development of the Independent Ammonia Making Machine (IAMM) — the world’s first decentralized and electrified ammonia production unit, according to AmmPower.
“My time at Georgia Tech has helped me tremendously,” Zhang said. At Tech, he worked on several projects that applied computer science skills to other industrial applications, such as training robotic chemists using active learning. Now he is using his skills to develop an advanced control system for safe and autonomous green ammonia production using predictive modeling and anomaly detection. “The Deliberate Innovation and Startup class taught by Merrick Furst helped me develop the idea of building an ammonia company and taught me valuable skills, including identifying cognitive biases and authentic demands.”
His efforts on the IAMM project are the latest in the pursuit of his goal of “solving critical challenges regarding energy and sustainability by developing technologies that are lower cost, more efficient, and more scalable.”
A Stamps President’s Scholar at Georgia Tech, Hylton joined Bain Capital Crypto as a partner earlier this year to support “teams building at the frontier of Web3.”
Hylton’s track record of identifying trends in the crypto space was well noted by Forbes. She’s credited with brokering a deal between her previous employer, Redpoint, and Dune Analytics, with the analytics platform’s valuation surpassing $1 billion just six months after Hylton’s investment.
“Grateful to even be considered alongside this list of people who are making huge strides in finance and more, rain or shine. Good nudge for us to all keep building,” Hylton tweeted in response to being named to Forbes’ list.
Written and designed by Steven Gagliano
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