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Moshe Kai Cavalin: Don’t Call Him a Boy Genius

Moshe Kai Cavalin has published two books, has a pilot’s license, and has most recently deferred a Master’s in Cyber Security Management to work for NASA as a software architect, all by the age of 17.

17-year-old Moshe Kai Cavalin from San Gabriel, California has been making the headlines. Looking at his remarkable track record, it’s not hard to see why. He has published two books, competes in martial arts competitions, has a pilot’s license, and has most recently deferred a Master’s in Cyber Security Management and Computer Sciences at Brandeis University to work for NASA as a software architect. Before all that, he graduated college aged 11 with two A.A. degrees in Liberal Arts and Mathematics and a 4.0 GPA average. He became the youngest student in the US to take college classes (eight years old), the youngest student to make the Dean’s Honour List in any college in the US (also eight years old), and the youngest student to be included in a President’s Honour List (nine years old). He also gained a BS degree in Mathematics from the University of California aged 15.

We Can Do and Bully Down

But as remarkable as it is, there are a number of particularly accomplished young adults (note: the word genius, at his request, is not to be used). Something extra special sets Moshe apart, as he demonstrated in his first book, “We Can Do: To help kids to accomplish more for a better future” (2010). He says: “I hope that I may lead some kids to see my success and believe that they can do the same or better. If one kid can accomplish it or go far beyond because of my book, I will be overjoyed… I was able to reach the stars but others can reach the ‘Milky Way.’”

Written aged 12 (originally in Mandarin, in which he is fluent) the 100-page guide explains how other young people can accomplish what he has, complete with code of conduct and do’s and don’ts. He emphasises that he is not a genius but instead that with focus, total commitment, good planning, hard work, resilience and a strong heart, anyone can achieve success. As his former mathematics professor, Daniel Judge, reaffirms: “He actually worked harder than, I think, any other student I’ve ever had.”

But following the success of “We Can Do”, Moshe received more than 6000 emails from readers, with a large number focused on bullying. And so in August 2015 he published his second book, “Bully Down: To Help Parents to Realize How to Aid their Bullied Kids & Help Bullied Teens to Survive and to Beat the Odds”. Drawing on his own experiences of being bullied and stories he heard from others, his book aims to help both the young and their parents in the process of dealing with bullying, and show that they can have a bright and happy future.

NASA Armstrong Flight Research Centre

His new position at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Centre in Edwards, California is in a rather different guise. He is working to develop surveillance technology for airplanes and drones, running simulations to track those that are headed for collision, and then finding ways to route them to safety. Ricardo Arteaga, his boss and mentor at NASA, says: “I needed an intern who knew software and knew mathematical algorithms… And I also needed a pilot who could fly it on a Cessna.”

After his time at NASA, Moshe will finish his master’s at Brandeis, which he hopes to follow up with a Master’s in Business at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Later, he wants to start his own cybersecurity company. And all of that is from a boy who is still too young to vote or drive a car.



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