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Submit any pending changes before refreshing this page. Please include your IP address in your email. The early 20th century produced a breathtaking succession of innovations—the Wright Flyer, the Model T, the Panama Canal. It was a golden age of engineering.

Advances in solar energy show the way past fossil fuels. And space probes explore planets that could become our future homes. These pages salute the innovators who are inventing the future.

Welcome to the new golden age. MIT’s famous Infinite Corridor, which connects many of the university’s buildings.

Scattered about the room, beneath a jumble of pipes and ductwork, is a curious collection that includes corn shellers, grain mills, solar panels, piles of red-speckled corncobs, sooty charcoal briquettes and one large plastic container labeled “Holly’s Bovine Faecal Matter—Do Not Remove Please. The visionary who presides over this idiosyncratic work space is senior lecturer Amy B. Smith, a leader in the appropriate technology movement, which helps people in developing countries through the creation of simple, low-cost technology. More and more students around the world want to make a difference, as well as making a living,” says Paul Polak, a leader in the field and the author of Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail.

Amy’s giving them that opportunity. Smith and her students tackle problems in countries as far-flung as Haiti, Ghana and India. Her growing cadre of followers and former students praise her offbeat humor and ability to focus, even when bouncing on Third World buses after sleeping on cold, manure-stained concrete. After joining Smith and other students in Peru last January, Mary Hong, now a 19-year-old MIT junior, switched her major from aerospace to mechanical engineering.

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