This summer, one of our students had the extraordinary opportunity to attend MIT’s Launch program. Launch is an entrepreneurship summer program for some of the brightest high schoolers from all over the world. Students learn about what it takes to design and build products that solve real world problems, how to market their ideas and find their users, and then how to launch their idea into the world. Johnny is just the second Taiwanese student to ever be admitted to this prestigious program, and we’re really excited for the opportunity to tell you a little bit about his story and his journey. Johnny is also the very first student to start The Spike Lab’s program and we’re incredibly proud of all that he’s been able to accomplish. We caught up with Johnny right after Launch as he was embarking on a tour of the east coast.
Q: Johnny, you just finished up the Launch program. What made you want to apply to Launch in the first place?
A: This past winter, I was looking for summer programs that connect with my interest in engineering and business. MIT’s Launch program seemed to be a great combination of both of those interests. My Spike coaches helped guide my research as I analyzed and compared each program and narrowed down my choices based on my interests. In the process of applying, I had questions and needed support, so my coaches gave me a lot of feedback.
Q: If you had to choose, what was your favorite part about Launch?
A: I really liked how they brought together so many brilliant high schoolers from all over the world, who have so many different interests and Spikes and we were able to come together to form really interesting teams. I also really like how we were able to learn from experiences through real world application to take an idea all the way to a marketable product in such a short amount of time.
Q: What suggestions would you make to the directors of Launch for them to improve?
A: I think we worked really hard, but I was actually prepared to work even harder. I thought we were going to be working late into the night every night and have to wake up early the next morning. Instead, we always had lights out at a reasonable time every night.
Q: In your opinion, what kind of student do you think is a good fit for Launch?
A: Students have to be very spontaneous and independent to be able to get the most out of Launch. Students have to be able to step out of their comfort zones in order to effectively communicate with other students. Starting a company isn’t about any one person but about the entire team, so it’s important to be able to both listen to others while also expressing your own ideas.
Q: You’re in the middle of a really remarkable summer. What advice would you give Taiwanese students about how to spend their summer vacations?
A: It’s important to spend your time working on things that really matter to you. Whether you are preparing for tests or developing a Spike, you have to set goals for what you are working towards or you won’t be able to achieve them. Do the things that you care about the most and challenge yourself so your summer can be very meaningful.
Q: Speaking of building a Spike, what is your Spike?
A: I’ve always cared a lot about serving underprivileged kids. Since I was very young, I’ve always volunteered to help kids. After moving to TamSui, I saw how different educational resources are from urban and rural areas. I started working with City People Foundation and got funding from Amway, Asus and TamKang University. We grew from one class to three classes, and now we have summer and winter programs that are open to students who are close to Tamsui. We’ve taught roughly fifty students now and we took three teams World Robotics Olympiad, and we have plans to launch more classes in the fall to serve even more kids.
Q: That’s really interesting. How did you decide on your Spike?
A: I’m very passionate about robotics and engineering, and I’m also very interested in education because of my experience as a homeschooler. I think my Spike is the perfect combination of these two interests.
Q: What role has The Spike Lab played along your journey?
A: The Spike Lab has been very important to my high school journey. They encouraged me to think bigger and supporting me as I get closer to my goals. Before The Spike Lab, I would create plans for myself, but they tended to be just for the next day or the next week. The Spike Lab trained me to think more long-term so I can get closer to my future goals.
Q: How confident are you as you approach the college application season?
A: I’m still a bit nervous because it’s such a big turning point that will impact the rest of my life in a significant way. But I feel like I have a really great team behind me and coaches who really care about me. I’m really thankful for everyone who has supported me.