Can you imagine finishing university at the age of nine? This is precisely what Laurent Simons, a Belgian child, does.
In December, Laurent Simons will graduate in electrical engineering from the Eindhoven University of Technology. Thus, he becomes the youngest graduate in the world.
His teachers and others have described him as a genius, and Laurent has great plans for his future – including a doctorate. “I have no idea how I did it,” says the 9-year-old who will become the youngest graduate in the world. He was four when he started elementary school, but even before his classmates were able to go to high school, Laurent Simons graduated from university at the age of nine.
Laurent Simons, a Belgian child, took a year to complete the first year of primary school, like most students. Then he accelerated his progression the following year. At the age of six, he entered high school, and, in just 18 months, he went through what is supposed to be six years of apprenticeship, and then he rested.
At the age of eight, he took a six-month sabbatical to relax a bit at home. Then, eight months ago, he enrolled to get his university degree.
After only nine months of study, he will graduate in electrical engineering in December. But he is not sure how he managed this incredible feat. When asked him how he could have graduated at the age of nine, Laurent Simons replied, “I have no idea.”
Engineering, medicine, or both?
Laurent is interested in how technology can help the human body – his diploma project focuses on an electrical chip connected to the brain. The chip can measure and monitor thousands of neurons simultaneously.
Simons comes from a family of doctors and now wants to study medicine and do a Ph.D. But his ambitions go well beyond academic qualifications. “My goal is to create artificial organs,” says the 9-year-old. Artificial organs are man-made devices that could one day replace a part of the human body – a heart or a kidney – and eliminate the need for donor transplants. “My goal is to prolong life,” says the youngest graduate in the world.
His purpose with artificial organs is to improve the life span and quality of life of humans. “I want to extend the lives of others, including my grandparents,” Laurent Simons says. In fact, it was his grandparents who discovered his potential for the first time, even before he went to school. “He was raised by his grandparents, and they noticed something special about him and started to talk about it, like all the other grandparents, we thought they were proud of their grandchild and that they did not take it too seriously,” recalls Alexander Simons, his father. But when his elementary teachers told them the same thing, the parents tried to understand why he was so brilliant. Even the experts marveled at its growth.
In addition to having a photographic memory and an IQ of 145, the boy also had excellent analytical skills. From the beginning, he loved mathematics and science but did not show much inclination for languages. His father says he had been reluctant to go to school on some days and just wanted to go to the beach and play. But he worked methodically after going to college. And his life is an intense routine.
“On Monday, he receives an introduction to the course, and he spends the Tuesday at the laboratory, and Wednesday is reserved for studies. Laurent Simons stays home and in bed for eight hours. He takes the Thursday to meet the teachers and ask questions, and on Friday, he passes the exams,” says his father. “Other students take up to 9 to 12 weeks to complete this cycle.”
To make sure that Laurent is comfortable and learns his way, most of the time, he is taught separately from other undergraduates, most of whom have left their teenage years behind. But his father says that he has not lost the joys of childhood and that there is no pressure on him.
He is already famous. Laurent’s Instagram account has over 35,000 subscribers and gives more than just a glimpse of her fun nature. The youngest graduate in the world has uploaded photos of him walking with his dog, swimming, and doing media interviews. “He boasts of his appearances on television in front of his friends,” his father says.
Mozart composed music at the age of five. Picasso finished his first painting at the age of nine. But many prodigy children are undermined by their environment as adults. Will Laurent Simons be different? “He has always come to realize what he plans to do,” says the father of the youngest graduate in the world.