A nine-year-old Belgian boy, with an IQ of 145, is on track to become the world’s youngest university graduate.
Laurent Simons is set to complete a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Eindhoven’s University of Technology next month.
Inspired by Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla, he plans to research artificial organs, and ultimately develop an entire artificial body in his own laboratory.
“My grandparents are heart patients,” he explained of the choice.
Laurent looks much like any other child of his age. Then he starts describing his work at a university in the Netherlands, developing a computer circuit that will replicate a part of the brain.
“What we are doing is placing neurons and making connections to see what the reaction is to medication in a part of the brain,” he says of the brain-on-chip project, which combines the biomedical and electrical engineering fields.
Laurent, who was born in Belgium but now lives in the Netherlands, completed high school in roughly a year.
In university, he is set to finish a three-year bachelor’s programme in just nine months.
“He’s maybe three times smarter than the smartest student we’ve ever had,” said programme director Sjoerd Hulshof.
Currently the youngest person to obtain a college degree is American Michael Kearney, who achieved the feat in June 1994 at the age of ten years and four months, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
When he is not at the university, Laurent says he walks the dog, plays video games Minecraft and Fortnite, or posts pictures on Instagram.
Offers are flooding in from universities around the world for Laurent and his parents are helping him weigh the options, with the US west coast currently a favourite destination.
His father, Alexander, does not dare predict Laurent’s future because he has smashed every expectation so far – but stressed there was no hurry.