Tech student and graduates make “30 under 30”

Left: Photo courtesy of Parta Unnava; Center: Photo courtesy of Aurore Simonnet; Right: Photo courtesy of Rob Rhinehart

Three Tech students (one current, two graduates) have been named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30 list for 2015”: Partha Unnava, Robert Parrish and Rob Rhinehart. The magazine lists 20 categories of 30 “young game changes, movers and makers” who are all under 30 years old.

From the “Manufacturing and Industry” category, Partha Unnava, the 22-year-old CEO of BetterWalk, and company redesigned the 4000-year-old crutch. BetterWalk was founded in May of 2013 by 3 BMEs from Tech to “improve the experience of a crutch user.”

Citing his experience having broken his angle and being on crutches for six weeks, Unnava felt the underarm pain common to crutch users. The vast majority of the user’s weight lies atop the axillary padding, causing uncomfortable or even painful stresses. Unnava saw this as an opportunity and helped design the BetterWalk Crutch.

The new design redistributes the weight away from the armpits and spreads it to the sturdier parts of the body. The design was a finalist in the 2014 InVenture Challenge, received venture capital in the ZeroTo510 Medical Device Accelerator and has been presented at the White House.

“I compared the experience to how I imagine Dwyane Wade felt after winning the NBA Championship in 2006,” says Unnava, courtesy of “Even now, to express the magnitude of my emotions and the immense respect I have for this award, I only have one word. Wow.”

Unnava left Tech to focus on his company and on a product launch early this year; he plans to come back and graduate in 2016.

Rounding out the “Science” 30U30 is 25-year-old ME Robert Parrish whose goal is “better chemistry through quantum mechanics,” courtesy of Parrish graduated in 2010 and is now a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Chemistry. Two years ago, Parrish was included in Scientific American’s 30 Under 30 for the same research.

“Popular culture often seems to think that science is done at 3:00 A.M. by a solo grad student in a white coat slaving over a lab bench,” Parrish said, courtesy of “All of my best ideas have come from having a chat over a beer with a friend.”

He uses quantum mechanics to simulate electrons in molecules in order to see if the molecule may be a good drug candidate, reaction catalyst, etc.

The math and computer simulations that he uses are incredibly complex. Fascinated by the complex patterns of weather and the universe, Parrish has a knack for finding approximations for these page-long equations to reduce computation time.

“Of all the equations I studied, the electronic Schrödinger equation of quantum chemistry was easily the most difficult and therefore the most fun to work on,” says Parrish, courtesy of

In their blurb, Forbes says, “Parrish is working on making it possible for Siri to tell a chemist exactly where to put that
carbon atom.”

Founder of Soylent, Rob Rhinehart cinched a spot in the “Food and Drink” category for his “efficient food.” Graduating in 2012 in CS, 26-year-old Rhinehart raised $3 million in crowdfunding from 20 thousand backers. He asked for $100,000.

Thinking like a true engineer, Rhinehart saw his unhealthy daily peanut butter sandwiches and cheeseburgers as a problem to optimize. Experimenting with different blends, he lived off his product for a year and claims to have felt better and more energized than during his undergrad.

Soylent is a vegan, kosher, FDA-GRAS product and provides a complete and healthy adult diet. The company ships packages of powder and oil blends, and consumers mix them with water and drink up. The thick, beige liquid has attracted the interest of the military and NASA.

At $70 per month for 21 meals or $255 for 84 meals, Soylent attracts those who do not have the time, patience or money to make food or eat out regularly. It won’t replace the food at events, but it has the ability to replace the monotonous day-to-day victuals.

“He hated the menial tasks food required, like driving to the grocery store, standing in line, preparing food, then cleaning up afterwards,” courtesy of