Woodlands teen recognized by Forbes Magazine

January 6, 2012 8:45:34 PM PST
Forbes Magazine recently released its list of the most influential and inspirational people in the country under 30, and a 17-year-old from The Woodlands is on it. The teenager may be too young to vote, but his ideas are already making an impact around the globe.

To the average person, the things Javier Fernandez-Han talks about may seem like gibberish. But his ideas are already changing the world.

"Originally, inventing was something I did just for fun, it was something that I enjoyed. But once I learned that most of the world lives in poverty, I wanted to do something about that," he said.

Javier started winning awards for his creations when he was just eight years old and hasn't stopped. He's spoken to audiences around the world.

One of his inventions is a device that's providing clean water to areas in need. He's only 17 and Forbes Magazine just named him one of the most influential people in the nation under 30 in the energy industry. The honor is for the system he created that uses algae to turn sewage into fuel.

"What I do is making use of something that we all I have," he said.

Javier is home schooled, something his parents decided to do because of their own educational experiences.

"At least for me, I came out of college pretty much useless. You give me a test, I can take it, but who's going to pay me to take a test?" Javier's father, Peter, said.

Peter now runs a test prep business, but is educating his sons by project-based learning. The parents want to empower their children to make a difference in the world no matter how old they are.

"So what they have that I never had growing up is a sense of agency that as a young person they can make a perceptible impact on other people's lives," he said. "I just want him to always be happy with what he's doing and to use the gifts he's been given to help others. That's my hope," said Javier's mother, Ester, said.

Peter and Ester say they're proud of their son's accomplishments and accolades. Javier says he's honored by the recognition he's getting around the world for what he's doing, but he remains humble.

"Mainly, I want to be able to help others. And if getting recognition can help me get more resources and meet more people, I think that can be very valuable," Javier said.

On Saturday, Javier is organizing and hosting TEDxYouth at The Woodlands. It's an event designed to bring together adults and youth to come up with ideas and plans to improve the world around us.