The 44-year-old billionaire, PayPal founder, and Facebook ( investor's Thiel Fellowship program, currently in its second cycle, is giving $100,000 apiece to about 20 people -- all under the age of 20 -- to research and develop their tech ideas. The fellows, whose interests range from biotechnology to energy to robotics, are also given access to bigwig Silicon Valley mentors. )
The catch? The participants can't be enrolled in college for the fellowship's two-year duration. Libertarian-minded tech entrepreneur Thiel may have a BA and a law degree from Stanford (and he recently taught a class at his alma mater), but he's encouraging promising youngsters to go the Gates-Jobs-Zuckerberg route. These famous dropouts are testaments to the fact that if you're really, really good, you don't need to sit through years of lectures to make it big.
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