Tue Nguyen did more than nibble from the tree of knowledge, he made a feast of it.
Just nine years after arriving in this country with thousands of other Vietnamese boat people, Nguyen, 26, has earned his seventh degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a doctorate in nuclear engineering. The school says it thinks that is a record for MIT.Nguyen told the MIT public relations office that he earned multiple degrees "to get the most out of my time at MIT and out of my tuition."
He also said he isn't a partygoer.
The super scholar was in Burlington, Vt., this week preparing to start a job at IBM designing technology for the manufacture of semiconductor devices. He did not return telephone calls from The Associated Press. But one of his fans back in Cambridge was happy to crow about him.
"You're not likely to find another person like this very often," said nuclear engineering professor Sidney Yip, Nguyen's doctoral adviser.
"He's a very quiet guy, very laid back," said Yip. "But, as you can imagine, deep down he has a lot of will power."
Nguyen entered MIT in 1981. By taking up to 12 courses a semester instead of the normal MIT student load of four, he earned his first undergraduate degree in three years and finished up four more bachelor's degrees in one more year. He then began his graduate work.
He was so busy attending classes that he had difficulty doing his homework assignments, Yip said.
He holds bachelor's degrees in physics, in computer science and engineering, in electrical engineering, in mathematics, and in nuclear engineering. He got his master's in nuclear engineering in 1986 and finished work on his doctorate in nuclear engineering this fall.
But that was only what he learned at MIT. He also studied English in Texas and Chinese at Harvard, the latter being the language of his fiancee's family.