Wed, Aug 08, 2001 - Page 1 News List

Boy genius packs bags for NTU

BRAIN POWER At 13 years old, Lin Chien-yi is not only the youngest person in Taiwan's history to go to college, he's also going to the top program at the nation's best university

By Lin Mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Lin Chien-yi, 13, has been admitted to National Taiwan University.

TAIPEI TIMES FILE PHOTO

Thin, quiet and shy, inconspicuous 13-year-old Lin Chien-yi (林建邑) is to become the youngest university student in the nation's history when he is admitted to the electrical engineering department of National Taiwan University in September.

Lin's name, together with the names of 77,450 others who passed the Joint College Entrance Examination, yesterday appeared on a bulletin board outside National Taiwan University, as is the custom.

"We are all very pleased with the result," Lin Chuan-fu (林全福), Lin's father, told the Taipei Times yesterday.

The child prodigy was not available to speak to a reporter yesterday, his father said, because "he has gone out with his friends."

Two weeks ago, after receiving his score on the college entrance exam, the country's youngest high school graduate told media he was very happy to have gained a place in his department of choice -- the electrical engineering department of the nation's top-ranked university.

Lin's grade was 451.7 -- out of a maximum score of 500 -- putting him 98th among the tens of thousands of examinees. He scored 100 percent in mathematics, 98.5 in chemistry and 90.6 in physics.

The elder Lin, a physics and chemistry teacher at Luchu High School in Kaohsiung County, said his son took just eight years to complete his pre-university education.

When he was in the first grade, the boy was able to pick up mathematical concepts that most students don't learn until much later, the elder Lin said.

While acknowledging the extraordinary talents of his student, Lin Chou-pin (林周彬), Lin's uncle and also his teacher at National Tainan First Senior High School, said hard work also played an important role.

"Of course the boy is bright, but what was more vital was his keen motivation to learn and to progress," the uncle said. "Study overrides everything else. It's amazing to see a child with such discipline in the quest for knowledge."

His concentration has been evident ever since he was small, Lin's aunt said. He would stare at moving ants or a vase for long periods of time, she said. "He was very observant and very focused."

Although three to four years younger than his immediate classmates in school, Lin has never had problems making friends. His classmates valued him for the assistance he gave them with their studies. In return, they took Lin under their wing, looking after him as he made his way through school.

Lin once told reporters that he acquired his goal of becoming a university student at a young age when he saw a TV news report regarding a 12-year-old American entering college.

He pledged to follow suit, hoping to become Taiwan's youngest university student.

But Lin has paid a price to achieve his success, saying he has been deprived of many of the usual pursuits enjoyed by his classmates.

He's a member of the chess club at school, but gets little time to enjoy the video games he loves to play because he is so preoccupied with school work.

The gifted young man also excels at games for adults. "He's a master of Mahjong," his aunt said.

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