Seven with Engineering at Illinois Ties Selected as Forbes 30 Under 30


Mike Koon, Engineering Communications Office

Six Engineering at Illinois alumni and one professor are among those named to Forbes lists of 30 Under 30, which highlights the 30 brightest game changers, movers and makers under the age of 30 in 20 different fields.

Canan Dagdeviren (Science). Working in the lab of John Rogers, Dagdeviren (PhD, Materials Science and Engineering) created a new class of biocompatible piezoelectric mechanical energy harvesters that are soft and flexible, to allow them to conform and laminate on soft tissues such as the heart and lung. The first of its kind nano-generators convert mechanical energy from internal organ movements into electric energy to power medical devices such as cardiac pacemakers. Dagdeviren won the $20,000 Illinois Innovation Prize in 2014 and is now postdoctoral associate at MIT.

• Marcin Kleczynski (Enterprise Technology). At age 25, Kleczynski (BS, Computer Science) was also recently named Silicon Valley 40 Under 40 by Silicon Valley Business Journal. He launched his company Malwarebytes in 2008 at the age of 18 to address the alarming amounts of malicious threats that were slipping by major security vendors undetected. It now boasts more than 300 million home user and thousands of business downloads globally. The company, with Kleczynski as CEO, raised $30 million in Series A funding in June to ignite expansion.

David Smith (Energy). Smith (BS, Mechanical Engineering) founded LiquiGlide, which makes coatings that create permanent wet, slippery surfaces -- which could forever end the frustration of getting the last ketchup out of the bottom of the bottle, or final squeeze of toothpaste out of the tube. Smith completed his undergraduate degree from Illinois in 2009 and served as a graduate researcher at MIT from 2009-12. Throughout the commercialization of LiquiGlide, he has been the lead inventor on 15 patents.

Charles Sing (Science). Sing, who joined the faculty in 2014 as an assistant professor in the department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, uses computational and theoretical tools to study the physics of polymers, the molecular chains of repeating atoms that include most plastics. The idea is to figure out how scientists can make new chemicals in silico, so that they can be designed, not just created through trial and error. Sing earned a PhD from MIT in 2012.

Amy Stabell (Manufacturing)  Stabell runs the operations team at Pixelligent, an advanced materials company based in Baltimore, Maryland, that helps make LED lights more efficient for a vareity of applications, including light bulbs and touch screens. She helped lead the team that launched a high-temperature, high-pressure reactor critical to the manufacturing of the materials. Stabell graduated from Illinois with a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering.

Anish Thakkar (Energy). Along with alum Patrick Walsh and Mayank Sekhsaria, Thakkar (BS Electrical Engineering) co-founded Greenlight Planet. The Chicago-based organization produces Sun King , a solar-powered LED lantern which provided a healthier alternative to kerosene lights. Sun Kings are so affordable that people can purchase them without subsidies. Working through a network of distributors, Greenlight Planet, with Thakkar as CEO, has sold more than three million Sun King lanterns to families in Africa and Asia in the past five years.

 Brett Walker (Manufacturing and Industry). Alumnus Brett Walker (PhD, Materials Science and Engineering) co-founded Electroninks. Their product, called Circuit Scribe, is a roller-ball pen filled with conductive circuit ink, allowing people to literally draw an electrical circuit onto a piece of paper. His work on reactive silver inks earned him second-place in the National Inventors Competition. Scientific American named the invention one of nine materials that will change the future of manufacturing.