Portrait of a post-95: an enterprising tech 'geek'

Updated: 2015-04-08 07:09

By Ma Danning(chinadaily.com.cn)

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Bright, technologically-savvy and naturally collaborative, Shang Yiyang is a good representative of urban Chinese youth born after 1995 whose middle-class families are sending abroad for university.

"The iWatch is a must-have. I would just go for the 2,988 yuan ($399) edition because it's cheaper," he says with a laugh while squinting at his mother, financer of his various hobbies from fossil collecting to digital gadgets.

"Next time you buy a smart watch, make sure you first sell the MOTO 360 you already have," his mother joked.

Portrait of a post-95: an enterprising tech 'geek'

Shang Yiyang, right, volunteers at the Paleozoological Museum of China in Beijing teaching children fossil repairing, March 29, 2015.[Photo by Song Wei/chinadaily.com.cn]

Shang, an 18-year-old Beijing native, will graduate from high school this summer. Four months later, he will enroll at the University of Connecticut in the United States to study computer science, having mastered Html, Java and other C-like languages.

"My idol is Lawrence 'Larry' Page," he said, referring to the American computer scientist and internet entrepreneur who cofounded Google.

"He was a computer engineer and initiated a research project at first, then started his own company, and focused on strategic thinking, research and instructing. That is like the perfect way to spend my life. My dream job is to be a Google product manager. That would be so exciting," said Shang.

"If only your grades were good enough to get you an interview for Google!" his mother murmured.

"In my first year in high school, a group of Google engineers — we call them Googlers — gave a lecture at my class. They introduced Google Earth, and the algorithm of Google Search. I was fascinated," Shang said.The capital city, where many global IT companies have offices, allows teenagers like Shang to access their advanced technology.

After grasping Java and C-like languages and unsatisfied with the WeChat platform, and taught himself HTML5 last year to make his WeChat public account more visually appealing.

A quick glance at Shang's computer shows all the software he used to write programs - MyEclipse, Node.JS, Dreamweaver and Visual Studio. He has just started to learn Swift Programming, a programming language created by Apple for iOS and OS X development.

A digital native who grew up online, Shang is good at searching global sources for education and entertainment. He uses Hackdesign and W3School to learn programming, watches Ted speeches and takes courses on iTunes. He loves watching US-produced Marvel Cartoons, BBC programs likeTop GearandHouse of Cardsand searches for fun on YouTube.

An early smartphone user, he is familiar with the latest useful apps. His iPhone Plus has Acceleread, a paid application to help improve English reading, Teambition, where you can create multiple projects and invite friends/colleagues to cooperate, and Prezi, a non-linear presentation software.

He uses technology to collaborate with friends and strangers in ways that bewilder his parents.

Shang has about 30 chat groups on WeChat, almost all of which are for the projects he has been working on. Seeing himself as a man of action and cooperation, he and his friends have initiated a program to help high school students get internships from top-notch companies, including China's Internet giant Baidu (China) Co., Ltd, in order make their applications to US universities more appealing. He also has a project to take Chinese high school students to foreign universities on science camps. The medical school of the University of Cambridge in England has agreed to host them.

He helped promote independently researched and developed digital devices in schools and laboratories, volunteers at a paleozoological museum teaching children and also runs a WeChat public account introducing majors in foreign universities.

However, he wouldn't describe any of these initiatives as "entrepreneurship".

"Most of the things I'm working on are profitable. I look forward to achieving financial independence and I may be able to cover my living expenses in the United States. But I don't chase money right now. It's too early for me," he said.

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