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STUDENT LIFE / NOV. 10, 2015
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Top 10 Most Innovative Universities in the World

More often than not, you’ll find a lack of creativity at universities as students are afraid to leave their comfort zone and think outside the box. The education they receive doesn’t really encourage them to create an opportunity or try to change the world, but to focus on getting a job, so that they can earn a living. Because of this, they don’t see themselves as leaders and often think of themselves as followers.

However, there are universities that constantly encourage students to pursue their dreams of innovation and focus on creating a better future for all mankind. If you want to attend universities like this, prepare for the interview, and don’t stop believing in your abilities and talents.

See Also: Top 7 Simple yet Great Inventions

1. Swiss Federal Institute for Technology in Zurich (Switzerland)

In October 2015, ETH Zurich physicists created a resonator for electrons. While typical resonators used in quantum physics focus light waves, this new type of resonator can focus electrons, which allows scientists to study single atoms with a much higher degree of precision. This is a huge technological breakthrough and we can expect to see it used in quantum computers within a few years.

They have also recently managed to fight age-related health impairments in people over 70 by training the mind and body of the affected subjects using a variety of exercises. The experiment was a big success and these techniques can be used not only for the prevention but also for the effective treatment of those suffering from mild cognitive impairment.

The university’s most notable alumnus by far is Nobel Prize winner and everyone’s favorite eccentric scientist Albert Einstein.

2. Pohang University of Science & Technology (South Korea)

The Pohang University of Science and Technology, also known as POSTECH, encourages new creative ideas through its Science and Technology contest, where they reward the most innovative and world-changing designs and inventions.

They have also done a fair amount of collaborative projects, e.g. the DICE (Design Thinking, Innovations, Creativity and Entrepreneurship) project that enabled students from POSTECH to collaborate and exchange ideas with students from George Mason University.

In 2016, POSTECH’s Accelerator Laboratory will engage in the development of the 4th generation light source. To give you an idea of the magnitude of the project, the new generation will emit light that is 10 billion times brighter than what current technology allows for.

3. University of Maryland, Baltimore County (USA)

Their most famous innovations are the virtual reality system and recent prototypes for robotic assistive tools. Kavita Krishnswamy, a doctoral student at UMBC who suffers from spinal muscular atrophy, has devoted her work to improving the life of people with disabilities. She has designed prototypes for robotic assistive tools which will help disabled people to perform various everyday tasks on their own. In other words, they are practically one step away from creating the kind of man-machine hybrid that we are used to seeing in sci-fi movies. UMBC is also about to build an immersive virtual reality system called PI which will help further research related to biology, math, engineering, visual arts, and digital humanities.

4. University of Tokyo (Japan)

Some of the innovative and groundbreaking ideas and projects from the University of Tokyo include their research on prolonging the human lifespan, innovative ideas on strengthening brittle materials, energy conversion efficiency, and gamma ray observation and research. They recently studied the effects of methionine metabolism on longevity in fruit flies, which has shown significant potential to be used in prolonging the average lifespan in our modern society.

The University of Tokyo has partnered with almost 200 companies around the world on various research projects, including Johnson & Johnson and Fujifilm, while the university’s alumni include 11 Nobel Prize laureates and Fields Medal winners.

5. Stanford University (USA)

With nearly 20 dedicated research centers, this private research-oriented university is one of the most prestigious universities, not only in the US but in the entire world. Some of the most successful companies such as Google, Yahoo!, Instagram, Hewlett-Packard, and Nike were founded by Stanford University alumni.

One of the university’s research centers, the Product Realization Lab, is a teaching facility where students create various innovative objects and turn big ideas into revolutionary products. From new chair designs to kitchen mixers and digital anemometers, students are encouraged to think outside the box and come up with creative designs that can enhance our quality of life.

One ongoing study by Stanford engineers has recently shown that mealworms biodegrade plastic. This discovery has immense potential, as it can be an efficient solution to the world’s plastic waste problem, which has really gotten out of hand over the last few decades.

6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA)

Besides the research projects on engineering and physical sciences that they are best known for, MIT has also focused on projects related to economy and management, biology, and linguistics.

Until now, 3D printers were limited to only one material at a time, and they mainly used plastic. However, one of the biggest recent MIT achievements is the new 3D printer called MultiFab, which can print objects using 10 different materials simultaneously.

7. Harvard University (USA)

Talented and creative students can pursue different opportunities and share ideas in the Harvard Innovation Lab, one of the 100 research centers associated with this university.

Partnered with Princeton University, Harvard researchers and students are working on a project in which fluctuations in people’s cell phone use are used to predict the transmission of infective diseases. Using cell phone data, researchers can track the movement of people affected by a disease and where they are going after leaving the diseased area, as well as recognize possible travel patterns.

8. KAIST University (South Korea)

The Georgia Institute of Technology and KAIST have partnered up to provide more opportunities for students and help them reach their goals. A program known as Startup KAIST promotes creative business ideas and helps students make their first big steps in the world of entrepreneurship.

Besides a success rate of over 80% granted patents, KAIST has also found its place on the list because they have developed a unique type of electric vehicles, better known as OLEV or Online Electric Vehicle. These vehicles use electromagnetic induction as a power source, which means there is virtually no pollution.

In 2010, KAIST launched this transport system as a possible answer to overwhelming traffic congestion and a great solution for scaling down global energy consumption. Electric power cables are buried underneath the road surface, and the vehicle wirelessly picks up the energy it needs. The KAIST team also won the DARPA Robotic challenge in 2015, presenting their Humanoid Robot Research Center robot, called DRC-HUBO, which can perform a number of complex functions.

9. Osaka University (Japan)

Some of the research that Osaka University, also known as Handai, specializes in is robotics, transplantation, and regenerative medicine. Some of the innovative projects such as fatigue and measurement system or the search and development of functional food components for anti-dementia have been presented at Innovation Japan 2015. Truly, a university that highlights the importance of looking into the future and coming up with solutions to some of the biggest problems facing humanity.

Researchers at Osaka University have created a kit that can diagnose infections in just five minutes. This was primarily developed in order to immediately determine if a person has H1N1, but it can also be used for a number of other diseases.

This year, the Osaka team has discovered a substance that can be used for bone loss treatment. The substance can be found in black tea, and it can be used to successfully fight osteoporosis, which currently affects a large number of people worldwide.

The Osaka team has also developed proteins that are visible to the naked eye because they produce light. These light-producing proteins shine 20 times brighter than the glowing proteins currently used. They are an important medical breakthrough as they allow doctors to closely observe human cells without damaging them. The glowing proteins emit a green, yellow or blue light and can be used to create street trees that glow in order to reduce the consumption of electricity in urban areas.

10. Imperial College London (England)

Imperial College London

The new White City campus will soon become the home of the Molecular Science Research Hub as well as the Translation and Innovation Hub.

In partnership with Parkinson’s UK, Imperial College London funds and hosts the largest brain bank that is dedicated to researching Parkinson’s disease (with over 6,000 tissue donors and over 100 research projects). Some of their most innovative projects include low-cost robotic prosthesis, powered exoskeletons, as well as various Paralympic sport equipment designs. Yes, that’s right: affordable robotic limbs and power armor, the stuff that’s usually reserved for video games franchises like Deus Ex and Fallout, and Hollywood blockbusters.

Some of the most notable alumni of Imperial College are 1945 Nobel Prize laureate Sir Alexander Fleming for discovering penicillin, astrophysicist Sir Ernst Boris Chain, and Brian May, lead guitarist of famous rock band Queen.

See Also: Top 10 US Universities for Languages 2015

All of these universities offer scholarships; however, if you don’t get the full scholarship, you can always earn some extra money during your studies and do your best to cover the hefty tuition fees as it is a privilege and a great opportunity that shouldn’t be wasted.

These are just some of the universities that offer the possibility to turn creative ideas into projects that can help humanity. Without creative ideas and bold risks, there is no progress, which is why these research-oriented universities are such an essential step in the evolution of higher education.

Did you graduate from one of these universities? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below!

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