America's greatest strength in the future global economy is the ability to generate whole new technologies—whole new ways of looking at a problem or opportunity. Steve Jobs and Apple—now the largest company ever to exist—are the obvious example in personal electronics.
A great example in the medical field is chemical engineer Robert Langer, whose work in developing new plastics has spawned 25 companies and helped create billion-dollar businesses (drug-eluting stents) for companies like Johnson & Johnson and Boston Scientific.
He joined the MIT faculty 35 years ago and is now one of 14 professors holding the title of Institute Professor—the highest honor awarded to a faculty member. He runs the largest biomedical engineering lab in the world....