On Tuesday, 17-year-old Thomas Sohmers unveiled a new super fast computer server that uses a fraction of the electricity that a normal computer does.
He's showing it off at the Open Compute Project (OCP) Summit happening this week in San Francisco.
This computer is the first product from Sohmers' startup, REX Computing, created with 52-year-old co-founder and CTO Kurt Keville.
The computer is a very powerful machine built with ARM processors, the kind low-power processors that run smartphones and tablets. These servers allow more computing power to be packed into a smaller space. And that has big implications for building green-but-powerful data centers.
"I think of myself as an entrepreneur besides just being an electrical engineer. I believe what I'm doing can have a major effective on the world," Sohmers said.
He dropped out of high school to join Peter Thiel's controversial startup accelerator, the 20 Under 20 Thiel Fellowship. Thiel, the former PayPal CEO and famous Silicon Valley venture capitalist known for his early investment in Facebook, is a libertarian who has often spoken out about the absurd cost of college these days.
So in 2011, he started a program that encourages kids to start companies instead of going to college. It gives them $100,000 in seed money and access to some of the Valley's greatest technologists as mentors.
Sohmers is an electrical engineering prodigy who at age 13 started working at the research lab at MIT. That's where he met his co-founder and CTO, Keville, he said.
With his technical genius and startup launched, he's not planning on going back and finishing high school, either.
"This is my third time applying for the Fellowship. I first applied when I was 14," he said. "I told my parents when I first applied and they weren’t really supportive. But then they kind of saw what I was doing in high school, I wasn’t spending my time as effectively as I could. I started spending more of my time at MIT and they understood. When I did receive the fellowship, they were supportive."
Fortunately for Sohmers, he's in good hands. He's part of class No. 3 and Thiel fellows have a promising track record so far: it's launched 67 companies that have created 135 full-time jobs and raised $55.4 million in angel and venture funding, the Wall Street Journal's Lora Kolodny reports.
At 17, Sohmers is unconcerned that being a high-school dropout will affect his career in any way.
"If I don’t end up changing the world with this I can find something else," he said. "People think that there’s a big thought war between these two sides [education versus entrepreneurship]. But when it comes to the researchers, they care less about the degrees that you have, and more about what you can actually do."
在本周在旧金山举行的Open Compute Project (OCP)大会上，Sohmers展示了这台服务器。
Sohmers在几年前从高中辍学，加入了Peter Thiel创立的创业加速器20 Under 20 Thiel Fellowship。2011年，在其他同龄人都在准备考大学的时候，Sohmers开始学习编程。他获得了10万美元的种子资金，并且跟随硅谷中一些著名的技术人才进行学习。