innovation leadership. “You take all of the foreign-born people out of Silicon Valley, it is just another pleasant place in California; it is not Silicon Valley.” This is the case all across America: 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children. “The H1B visa is one of the most powerful forces we have in America. You can call it America’s genius card.” If Albert Einstein wanted to enter America today, he would have to get in line, Carlson said, and he might not get in.

In addition, more than half of the science and technology graduate students in US universities are from overseas, and in some schools the percentage is close to 100 percent. According to Carlson, the US government should give each of these students a green card upon graduation.

Carlson also discussed the glaring mismatch between the limitless opportunities in today’s world and the limitations of K–12 education in the United States. Good jobs are still being created in America, but many students do not have the skills needed to do those jobs. Despite substantial increases in funding for K–12 education, outcomes have improved little, Carlson said; in Detroit, for example, less than 25 percent of boys graduate from high school.

But Carlson also cited reasons for hope. Innovations bubbling up in the United States, such as the Khan Academy, have the potential to transform US education. American educators are learning from successful education systems how to build both excellence and a focus on innovation into school systems. Aspects of successful programs in the United States (Box 2-1) and in other countries, such as Finland and Singapore, can be emulated. As examples, Carlson cited the Institute of Design at Stanford University1 and the world’s first “innovation university” in Finland,2 where students study innovation in a project-based curriculum all four years (Figure 2-1).

He also described a program in Palo Alto called the Girls Middle


1 The Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (called the “”) is a hub for students in engineering, the arts, medicine, business, law, the humanities, social sciences, and education to collaborate and take classes together. Courses focus on project-based learning where students from very different backgrounds work together to develop innovative, human-centered solutions to real-world challenges. Online at .

2 Aalto University was created through the merger of the Helsinki School of Economics, the University of Art and Design Helsinki, and the Helsinki University of Technology. The University encourages multidisciplinary education and research with many project-based courses focused on design and product development in collaboration with Finnish companies. Online at

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