For someone who has devoted his life to helping cities, Jase Wilson MA ’08 grew up in a decidedly small town. Maryville, Missouri, has a population of 12,000 people, with civic life revolving around “farms, factories, and football.” Its one claim to fame is that it is the birthplace of Dale Carnegie, the promoter of American self-improvement, and Wilson followed in his footsteps as a self-taught whiz kid. “Most kids have a social life or play sports; I was in my bedroom taking apart computers and figuring out how circuit boards fit together,” he says.
His diligence earned him a free ride to attend engineering school. But during a visit to the University of Missouri at Kansas City, he happened on a pamphlet about “Urban Planning and Design.” After a 20-minute conversation with the department head, he was hooked on cities — structures as intricate as the most complex circuit board. “Cities are the sum of all other endeavors,” Wilson says. “They are co-created by the wants and desires of all the people inhabiting them. There are so many forces at work.” Read the rest of his story on MIT News.