The Unusual Education Of Rockstar Programmer Max Nanis

April 13th, 2015

10x discovers the most innovative tech talent in the world, and our programmer Max Nanis is a perfect example of the dynamism that defines a true “10xer”. Nanis is a programmer at San Diego’s Scripps Research Institute and an accomplished artist on display at the Smithsonian Institution. His visionary work combines science, art and computer skills, and his unusual education is what gave him the foundation.

In Educating Max: How creating his own curriculum helped one student find his path Eric Shulzke reports for the Deseret National News how Nanis was able to work with his advisors at Bennington College to create a custom curriculum that not only accommodated his talents and interests, but also his challenges (i.e. overcoming dyslexia).

Bennington has no majors. Working with his adviser and an academic committee, Max crafted his own curriculum. It’s a formal process, reviewed and adapted several times as the student moves along, and a student’s plans can cross disciplinary boundaries to develop unique skills and interests.

Max blended science and art, taking multiple classes in sculpture and also working with an instructor who emphasizes large-scale video art installations.

The willingness of his advisors to meet his needs and goals is a hopeful sign for undergraduate institutions, who are increasingly under attack for failing to prepare students for today’s workforce. Technology is putting into question our traditional methods for producing everything, from products to companies to the workers themselves. Because many successful technology entrepreneurs and professionals did not pursue typical educational pathways, a debate is raging over the value of traditional education for succeeding in the tech world. Many, like Paypal cofounder Peter Thiel, believe college education is unnecessary. A few months ago, 10x cofounder Michael Solomon and 10x programmer Erik Zuuring were interviewed by Mashable in Warning: A computer science degree may be a waste of your time and money:

Michael Solomon, founder of 10X Management, which represents about 80 coders, notes that many of them don’t have degrees or didn’t major in computer science. “One of the biggest issues with post-secondary education in the technology industry is it’s ability to keep a curriculum current and at the cusp of technology,” says Erik Zuuring, a 10X programmer who dropped out of college. “Just in the web-sphere, trends and technology change on a monthly basis.”

If you’re interested in hiring Max or another top 10xer for your tech project, please click here.