This year, 26 Penn graduates and one future Penn professor were selected for Forbes' seventh annual 30 Under 30 lists.
The lists take stock of 600 of the world's “brightest young entrepreneurs, innovators, and game changers" in 20 different industries. This year, more than 15,000 people applied or were nominated for consideration, placing the “acceptance” rate at less than 4 percent.
The 26 Penn alumni, along with Deep Jariwala — an Electrical and Systems Engineering assistant professor starting in January — placed into 14 of the 20 categories, missing out only on Arts & Style, Hollywood & Entertainment, Games, Manufacturing & Industry, Music, and Energy.
Jariwala, who was recognized in the Science category for his development of nanometer and atomic scale electrical devices, said that making the list has helped more people to understand the value of the work he’s doing.
“Being published in Forbes, which reaches people outside of the science community, has brought more publicity to what I’m working on,” he said. Federal agencies and the United States Air Force have now contacted him about his research. Jariwala will be leading Penn’s Device Research and Engineering Laboratory in January 2018.
According to Forbes’ analysis, Penn has produced the fifth-highest number of graduates on its lists. The top four colleges represented are Harvard University, Stanford University, Columbia University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The Wharton School was the most represented school among Penn’s honorees, with 16 Wharton graduates making the list, followed by the College of Arts and Sciences with nine graduates and the School of Engineering and Applied Science with seven.
Yuja Chang, a second-year Wharton MBA student, was a 30 Under 30 finalist last year after he co-founded Aira, a service designed to help the visually impaired through wearable technology and remote assistants.
Not only did Chang and one of his co-founders land a spot on Forbes' 2018 Social Entrepreneurs list, but they were also included on the Big Money list, which is reserved for startups that have raised over $15 million in funding. Chang said the recognition from Forbes should help Aira to increase its user base as the company looks to start a new round of financing.
“We’re in a [30 Under 30] Facebook group now and they also have an annual summit that members can attend,” he said. “On top of that, they have this [database] like Wharton Connect, where you can see all the [30 Under 30 alumni], and you can reach out and request an introduction.”
Penn had its strongest showings in the Marketing & Advertising and Venture Capital categories, with four graduates placing in each section.
In the past, Forbes’ 30 Under 30 lists have been criticized for perceived underrepresentation of minorities and women. Penn’s honorees this year included 11 women and 16 men. Of the group, 12 were minorities and 15 were white. More generally, the Forbes' 2018 lists included nearly 120 immigrants who came from more than 50 countries.
Contributing reporter Ania Alberski and Design editor Julia Schorr contributed reporting to this article.