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Student presents pop-up lotus flower to President Obama

Tuesday, May 31, 2016, 11:48 GMT+7

When Ngo Huynh Ngoc Khanh began learning kirigami, a variation on origami that includes cutting the paper, he never expected his work would be one day given to the world's most powerful leader.

Khanh, a second-year student at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Science, was one of only three to present their scientific products to Barack Obama when the U.S. president visited a co-working space for startup enthusiasts in the southern metropolis on Tuesday last week.

Majoring in information technology, Khanh had three minutes to showcase products created by his laser marking machine to the president.

After the presentation, Khanh used the machine to make a kirigami of two hands holding a lotus, Vietnam’s national flower, and presented it to President Obama.

The kirigami featuring two hands holding a lotus which Ngoc Khanh presented to U.S. President Obama. Photo: Tuoi Tre

“The lotus represents the elegance of Vietnamese people, while the hands reflect our tolerance and generosity,” he explained.

Khanh had initially intended to make a Vietnamese map in kirigami, but switched to the lotus given the short presentation time given.

The young student began learning kirigami in the summer of 2015, but soon gave up due to a lack of skill.

However, Khanh then came up with the idea of making a machine that can create artistic products.

With no background in manufacturing, Khanh spent over one month researching before he made a prototype. It then took him another 15 days to complete.

“I initially wanted to create a laser marking machine for fun and it was just my passion,” the young Vietnamese said. “I did not expect to have my invention presented to President Obama.”

In order to showcase the machine to the U.S. leader, Khanh had to beat out hundreds of inventions by other students. His machine also had to go through several selection rounds at the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi.

Khanh said however that he had already shared his idea of the laser marking machine on the Internet.

“There must be other young inventors who are interested in this machine,” the student said, adding that there were over ten people learning to re-create the object based on his instructions.

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