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Tech mogul pays bright minds not to go to college
Instead of paying attention in high school, Nick Cammarata preferred to read books on whatever interested him. He also has a gift for coding that got him into Carnegie Mellon University's esteemed computer science program despite his grades.
But the 18-year-old programmer won't be going to college this fall. Or maybe ever.
Cammarata is one of two dozen winners of a scholarship just awarded by San Francisco tech tycoon Peter Thiel that comes with a unique catch: The recipients are being paid not to go to college.
Instead, these teenagers and 20-year-olds are getting $100,000 each to chase their entrepreneurial dreams for the next two years.
"It seems like the perfect point in our lives to pursue this kind of project," says Cammarata of Newburyport, Mass., who along with 17-year-old David Merfield will be working on software to upend the standard approach to teaching in high school classrooms.
Merfield, the valedictorian of his Princeton, N.J., high school class, is turning down a chance to go to Princeton University to take the fellowship.
Thiel himself hand-picked the winners based on the potential of their proposed projects to change the world.
All the proposals have a high technology angle but otherwise span many disciplines.
One winner wants to create a mobile banking system for the developing world. Another is working to create cheaper biofuels. One wants to build robots that can help out around the house.