Taiwanese inventor Gordon Teng (鄧鴻吉) on Saturday received the highest honor at the 22nd International Invention, Innovation and Technology Exhibition held in Malaysia over the weekend. Teng said that he hoped poor children would follow in his footsteps and use inventions to create a better life for themselves.
“I grew up in poverty, but inventions changed my life for the better,” said the 48-year-old who has been nicknamed “Taiwan’s Thomas Edison.”
“I very much hope that other poor children will find fresh opportunities in their lives through invention and innovation,” he said.
Teng, who is now the head of Taichung-based Asia University’s Creative Design and Invention Center, recalled how he often went hungry growing up in a single-parent family.
However, his life changed at the age of 17 with his first invention — an infrared sensor for flushing toilets that made him NT$1.5 million (US$52,050). He has since invented another 300 devices.
At the exhibition on Saturday, Teng received the highest honor available for his outstanding contribution to the field of invention. It was the first time the organizers had ever presented an award in that category.
Teng said he wanted to share the honor with all Taiwanese, who he urged to use invention and innovation as a way of “developing the path that Taiwan should really be taking.”
Meanwhile, his 10-year-old son Teng Li-wei (鄧立維) has displayed a similar talent for invention.
The young Teng won the top prize in his age group at the same event in Malaysia with a device for drying kitchen waste.
Last year, he became the youngest ever gold medal winner at the event with his invention of a tap water-powered turbine that was later sold to a company for NT$1 million.