His varsity application is made of Lego bricks

--The Straits Times, 11 August 2011--
Mr Teh Jun Hao, 18, built a 1.5m-long submersible aircraft carrier out of Lego - complete with battery-operated moving parts - and submitted a YouTube video of the process as part of his application to SUTD. -- ST PHOTO: NURIA LING

MR TEH Jun Hao's Lego construction skills got him into the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). But not without years of practice.

The lanky, bespectacled 18-year-old built a 1.5m-long submersible aircraft carrier - with battery-operated moving parts, no less - out of Lego.

His YouTube video of the whole process earned him a place at the university.

But his real practice started a decade ago. At the time, Mr Teh was an average student, but had a keen interest in science and technology.

Indeed, some of the parts used to cobble together the impressive-looking warship are five to six years old, looted from old Lego sets he tinkered with in primary and secondary school.

The program for the mechanism that controls the ship's moving parts is so old that his current computer was not compatible with it until Mr Teh downloaded a patch.

The ship's exterior is grey and sleek, but a peek into its belly reveals a motley collection of coloured pieces.

He has been designing for several years, mostly military ships, so building the 10,000-piece warship took just a month. 'I had actually been working on the design for some time,' he said.

From Year 1 at Meridian Junior College, Mr Teh had wanted to apply to the university. And he was encouraged to do so by his parents.

His father Teh Kai Chong, 55, is an auditor, and his mother Ma Ping Qian, 50, is an enrichment instructor.

Ms Ma said other local universities offered her son scholarships, 'but we felt Singapore University of Technology and Design had a broader-based education'.

'We felt that if you want to create things, you need this sort of broad experience,' she said.

Now a full-time national serviceman, Mr Teh will start university in two years.

His design - a submarine that doubles as an aircraft carrier - does not yet exist. But one day, because of this seed of a Lego idea, perhaps it will.

Mr Teh's YouTube video is available at bit.ly/eRdVfI

GRACE CHUA

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