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Biz whiz kid
Wed, June 28, 2006
Keith Peiris will juggle first-year university and running his website business in September.

As other high school graduates prepare to cut loose for the summer and look for part-time work, one 18-year-old Londoner has other things on his mind.

"I guess my primary concern is the business and making sure it can run smoothly," said Keith Peiris, president and chief executive of Cyberteks Design.

Rather than resign his corporate title after he graduates from Grade 12 today, the computer whiz kid plans to work from his dorm room at the University of Waterloo to expand his website development business.

"I think there's a potential in the company and I want to grow it to exceed that," said Peiris, who received international attention in 2001 when he took part in a trade mission to China led by then prime minister Jean Chretien.

Sitting in a leather chair in his home office, near an iPod attached to the computer he built, Peiris wasn't sure how he was going to celebrate his graduation.

"I haven't thought that far ahead."

But he does know he'll study nanotechnology engineering at Waterloo in the fall, indulging his interest in quantum mechanics, he said.

"It's a learning environment. People aren't there to socialize, to waste time."

Peiris's academic average of about 95 per cent was eclipsed by only one other student at John Paul II Catholic school, he said.

"I'm driven to learn. And I think that's more important than the final number."

Besides Peiris, Cyberteks Design is made up of three part-time and three full-time staff, including his father, Deepal Peiris.

The elder Peiris, the company's vice-president of operations and marketing, said he's proud of Keith, who was recently named one of Canada's Top 20 Under 20.

"Whatever he wants to do, I will support him," Deepal Peiris said.

When he joins thousands of others on Waterloo's campus next fall, the young entrepreneur will be living away from home for the first time.

"I guess I'll go with the flow and see what happens."

He's already heard rumours about frosh-week festivities and is excited to take part in "everything that's legal."

A fan of math, chemistry and physics, Peiris said he enjoys listening to electronica music when he works.

"Music can be more than an emotional tool. It can help you think."

Though he hasn't yet decided what he'll do after university, Peiris may look into graduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.

"It's all going to be a learning experience."

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