At the heart of global technology and innovation, young people are disrupting the narrative. One of the most notable of these pacesetters is 21-year-old tech genius Iddris Sandu.
For Sandu, technology should not be a far-off complexity; he desires to make it accessible and relevant by rooting it in trendiness and contemporary culture. Sandu, who was raised in California and born in Ghana, began making strides in innovation at age 13, when he completed an internship at Google.
Before that point, working in the abandoned corners of a public library, Sandu had already taught himself every programming language in the space of only two years. After working on some of Google's most prominent products—including the commenting systems of Blogger and Google Plus—Sandu sought to directly impact his community by creating technology that could effect change immediately. Armed with a relentless will, despite being only a high school student, he wrote a complete application to assist his peers in navigating their way to classes. This achievement led him to receive a special commendation signed by President Obama.
In his typical unorthodox fashion, by age 19, Sandu had built a groundbreaking code. This code included self-driving technology and algorithms to connect relevant content to users based on their geographical location. Bent on carving his own path, Sandu also reportedly twice declined to attend the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Sandu, a self-proclaimed architect, is passionate about the power of information—especially for those in black communities who are disadvantaged by a lack of access. Information can help them leverage their knowledge to grow and create at an astronomical pace. He is working on bridging this gap by collaborating with communities to establish science, technology, engineering, and math programs for disadvantaged children. He even plans to extend his reach to Africa by working in Nigeria and Ghana.
Sandu credits his resilience and pursuit of ingenuity to notable African figures such as Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah and Kofi Annan. A particular influence is the Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, who is globally recognized as a pioneering force in making the afro-beat sound commercially viable.
Most recently, Sandu collaborated with the famous hip hop artist Nipsey Hussle to implement the world's first "smart store," The Marathon Clothing, which combines Sandu's tech brilliance with the rapper's style to create an immersive technological fashion experience.
Sandu has undoubtedly become a cultural icon, and he is using his influence to motivate young people to tap into their wokeness and create change—all without giving up the coolness of youth. He is now working with popular hip hop artists, including a position as the lead technical consultant for Kanye West, with the goal of altering the consumption of information through augmented reality and other exciting technologies.