Participating in the Academy’s 1999 Golden Plate Awards in Washington, D.C., as a high school senior was a tremendous honor and a transformative experience. I fondly remember discussing technology trends with Nathan Myhrvold, brainstorming about biology with Kary Mullis, and singing with Aretha Franklin. Perhaps most importantly, the event reinforced for me the multi-dimensional nature of achievement, and has inspired many aspects of my subsequent career pursuits.
Since attending the event, I have become a scientist, an inventor, and an entrepreneur. I serve as the President of Gemedy, Inc., a pioneering intelligent systems company, and also hold academic appointments at the Harvard Institute for Applied Computational Science, the Harvard Innovation Lab, and the MIT Media Lab. I have received 116 major distinctions, authored 17 publications, been granted 22 issued, pending, and provisional patents. I have founded, managed, and advised 4 technology companies, one of which has been acquired. In 1998 and 1999, respectively, I won the U.S.A. Computer Olympiad and the Intel Science Talent Search. In 2003, I became the last person in MIT history to receive a triple major, with bachelors in Physics, Electrical Science and Engineering, and Mathematics, while graduating first in my class from the MIT School of Engineering. In 2007, I completed my Ph.D. in Physics at Harvard, where my research on programmable matter, ubiquitous computing, and machine learning was awarded the Hertz Doctoral Thesis Prize. A popular TED speaker, my talks have been viewed more than 1.75 million times and translated into 26 languages. My work has also been featured in more than 160 press outlets worldwide including The New York Times, CNN, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, and BusinessWeek. If other alumni are interested in reading more about my work, they can visit http://www.alexwg.org.