Inventor wants to focus on studies

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 September, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 September, 2006, 12:00am

A Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) academic has urged the media to respect the privacy of teenage inventor Chan Yik-hei.

Yik-hei was mobbed by journalists when he started his Year Zero at the department of electrical engineering last Friday.

Speaking at Yik-hei's scholarship ceremony on Wednesday, Philip Chan, dean of the HKUST's School of Engineering, said he hopes the media would give the teenager 'more space'.

'I hope the press can treat Yik-hei as an ordinary 16-year-old and a normal HKUST student. The media attention has put him under pressure,' said Professor Chan.

'I'm a bit worried. And I hope the media will not ask our students to give them information about Yik-hei.

'We have assigned Professor Mansun Chan, who specialises in nanoelectronics fabrication, to be Yik-hei's mentor and help Yik-hei whenever he has problems with his studies or daily life.'

Yik-hei has been under the spotlight since his early admission to university, which was not based on his HKCEE results. He has been criticised for scoring only 12 points in the public exam and failing English and Chinese.

Yik-hei said he wants to keep a low profile and focus on his studies over the next four years at the HKUST.

'I'm just like the other students and I don't want to be special. I don't want my peers to think that I'm trying to get attention,' he said.

'So far my classmates have been friendly. Most of them are top students from the mainland or Hong Kong. I can turn to them for help if there's anything I don't understand.

'I'm taking mathematics, languages, physics and engineering this semester.

I plan to spend more time on my studies, so I will stop working on my inventions for a while.'

Yik-hei said he wasn't able to understand everything in class because the lectures were conducted in English. He said he would put in extra effort to boost his language skills.

'Because many of my classmates are from the mainland and my Putonghua is not that good, we communicate in English and that helps me to improve,' he said.

Yik-hei received a HK$250,000 scholarship on Wednesday from Standard Chartered Bank's community foundation in recognition of his achievements.

At the presentation ceremony, he was also given two books, Around the World in 80 Days and Journey to the West, selected by the bank's executive director and chief executive officer Peter Sullivan, and country head of consumer banking, Ben Hung, respectively.