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Smartest Engineer: Christophe Bisciglia
Co-Founder, Cloudera

What kinds of problems could we solve if everyone had access to the computing heft that powers Google? Christophe Bisciglia joined the search giant as a software engineer when he was just out of college and quickly realized that if he shifted his digital workload from an individual computer to a cluster of networked computers, he could crunch data faster. Problem was, most scientists didn't have access to the kind of web-based, or "cloud," computing power of Google.

After teaching a class called Google 101, which taught software engineers at the University of Washington to program on a cloud-size scale, Bisciglia, 29, became obsessed with the possibilities emerging from an open-source project called Hadoop. Hadoop lets engineers take advantage of the massive computing efficiencies that come from networking hundreds of computers. He left Google in 2008 to help start Cloudera, which makes it easier for customers to turn their data into insights using Hadoop. Bisciglia resigned from Cloudera in June but tells Fortune he remains committed to harnessing the massive power of the cloud in new ways. Brains and brawn are definitely a potent combination. --J.H.

NEXT: Engineer runners-up: Cheever and D'Angelo
Last updated July 09 2010: 1:19 PM ET