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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 31 January 2015
GREECE 8 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 31 JANUARY 2015 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Melbourne Greek Aussie an aerospace wunderkind BRIAN JAMES Theodore Mouratidis is an extraordinary 22-year-old with brains, brawn, good looks and a humanitarian heart. He's also paving the way for other young Aussies to 'aim for the stars'. The only Australian student at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Theodore is undertaking a double degree in aerospace engineering and physics, with a minor in history. Ηe is one of his course's top students. The young Melburnian has another eighteen months at MIT. His goal is to develop a new propulsion technology for space craft based on fusion. That will be after he completes an MA at Oxford University for his PhD at MIT. Back in Melbourne for a few weeks to catch up with his family, Theodore is obviously not your average young man. As well as his academic prowess, he's ranked in the top 10 strongest 22-year-olds worldwide as a power lifter. The muscular, personable and articulate young man also runs a motivational website and is a long-time contributor to humanitarian projects in Third World countries. Theodore's father Steven, a functional medicine practitioner, recalls his son's fascination with flying machines from an early age. “He's a lucky kid because he knew from the age of four what he wanted to be. Anything to do with flying and space has always been a passion,” Steven Mouratidis said. While entrance to MIT places emphasis on academic results, the iconic university also likes to see a candidate who is undertaking philanthropic works and who leads a balanced life. Theodore said when he applied he wrote a 'book' about his life in order to be accepted to complete his double degree. His American experience has given him time to reflect on the Australian education system. Theodore believes that the high school education standards are relatively even between the US and Australia. However he says the universities in the US have much more rigorous entrance standards and expect students to be 'all-rounders' and community contributors. "As a country we're not encouraged to be as philanthropic as the US. Also, I think not enough students in Australia aim for excellence. There's a tendency to mediocrity,” Theodore says When pressed about his motivation, Theodore says he is “the author of his own life” and not prepared to let anyone else wrest the pen from his hand. Watching on with great pride, Steven Mouratidis says his son is a “great, humble kid” and he is happy to provide the substantial investment in Theodore's education. Only a selected few from around the world qualify to be accepted into Massachusetts Institute of Technology and receive the MIT ID card. It is not so much the status of the card, but what it brings. For Theodore the great advantages of the university are the motivated people he is surrounded by, and importantly, the calibre of lecturers; among Theodore's are Nobel laureates and astronauts. “The absolute best of the best in their fields,” he says. When asked about his cultural background, Theodore goes back to his ancient Greek roots, especially the Spartans. “I admire the Spartans when they were faced with inevitable defeat by the Persians at the 'Pass'. Though grossly outnumbered, they attacked the challenge with gusto, giving it their best, despite the odds,” he says. “That's the benchmark, to give your best, whatever the challenge, all the time.” With a 'minor' in history, Theodore has a formidable reading quotient to fit in between assignments, lectures and research for his majors - physics and aerospace engineering. Like his father Steven, Theodore has a photographic memory and doesn't have to take notes when he reads. It seems the planets and the stars are lined up for this impressive young Melbourne man's success. For Theodore, his MIT ID card means more to him than just the status it brings. Theodore and his father Steven.
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