I can't fathom any kid dropping out and then inventing a satellite? or solve any medical problem? And if they don't innovate then how can they even think of ways of bringing it to the consumers (which is the difficult next step) ?
Of course, it's not entirely clear that I was more help than hindrance to the group until midway through my third year, but I certainly learned a lot and got a lot of mentoring you can't get via youtube and e-books :-)
I spent my first three years at university learning complicated sciencey shit until knew enough to be set free on real research problems; then I spent the rest of my time doing research.
There actually is a European Space Agency thing nearby, and an acquaintance DID work on satellites there for his PhD, so as I said, I can't really blame the system.
I guess the key thing for me is the cluelessness about how to go about reaching goals effectively. I still relied on the system to somehow stir me towards a nice job.
The scientists and engineers who enable the first manned mission to Mars will not be college dropouts.
Many of the key scientists and engineers who enabled the first manned mission to Luna were not college graduates.
smart, motivated people can teach themselves.
the ranks of un-degreed entrepreneurs refutes your skepticism that the un-degreed can't contribute or innovate.