Li Chentian tests his new invention in his laboratory – a thermal liquid sensor. (Photo/Guangzhou Daily Photo)
Li Chentian, a 17-year-old teenager from Zhuhai City, south China's Guangdong Province, owns 9 national invention patents so far. He was invited by Tsinghua University to attend the "Global Innovation Experience Camp," which was organized by both Tsinghua University and the University of Washington before Spring Festival.
As a participant of the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) last year, he recently came to Beijing to share his experience with the teenage competitors of the ISEF this year.
Most teenagers in China are busying for studying and preparing for Gaokao – the national college entrance exam – while Li has been busy inventing. He has shown his talent for electronic devices since he was two years old. At the age of nine, he built the "fluoride free electronic fridge." He created the "solar intelligent outdoor manhole cover management system" at the age of 12, and developed a programmable cloud interface terminal and operating system at the age of 13.
"All of my ideas are from my daily life. I devoted a lot of time to inventing and creating. I just started to accumulate '10,000 hours' earlier than others." Li said. He humbly expressed that, to truly invent, you first must have a strong interest in an idea and then invest plenty of time in it.
Li said that he would like to be curious about inventions and keep an eye out for everything around him. The idea for the "active high-voltage power line de-icing monitoring system" that came during the Innovation Challenge in the U.S. was based on the 2008 ice disaster.
This weather event froze large-area high-voltage lines, cutting their power. The image of a worker trying and finding it difficult to break the ice made a deep impression on Li. He started to think about how he could make a machine that would automatically deice a wire, or make sure it didn't freeze in the first place. While developing this idea, he did a full technical demonstration and, eventually, the Global Innovation Experience Camp gave him an opportunity to show his work.
Li said, "Because of the accumulation of technology, it only took me 2 days to make an original prototype for this project, and eventually I won the 'Best Project Award,' the highest award in the competition."
Li also very thanks his parents for supporting his interests. His parents said that he was a "troublemaker" with household appliances from his childhood. His father set up a "Li's Laboratory" and invested over one million yuan (158,000 U.S. dollars) in order to buy the most advanced equipment for him.