7, 2000, Gazette)
Just doing it
by Chris Hammond
most people, Dr. Leonard Lye actually lives by the mission
statement he has taped to his office wall:
you can do,
or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius,
power and magic in it.
chair of Civil Engineering at Memorial, Dr. Lye goes above and
beyond his teaching, research and administrative responsibilities.
Since moving to St. Johns 12 years ago, Dr. Lye has started
the St. Johns Taoist Tai Chi Society of Canada and the
local chapter of the TETRA society, has achieved success as a
provincial doubles badminton champ, and has even found time to
coach junior high badminton and basketball.
who is this marvel of energy?
in Sabah, Malaysia, Dr. Lye is the son of a prominent Malaysian
politician from a Chinese background, sent away with his older
sister to a military-style boarding school in Taiwan in 1968,
ostensibly to learn Mandarin Chinese, although the family didnt
speak it at home.
grand-aunt, passing through Taiwan on holidays a year later,
took pity on Dr. Lye and his sister and rescued them from the
school, taking them to live with her in Singapore until they
completed their education.
high school, Dr. Lye got a scholarship to study at the Bolton
Institute of Technology (now Bolton University) in Manchester,
England, which lead to a job back in Malaysia as a civil engineer
in charge of construction of the first hydroelectric power station.
He followed this up with marriage in 1981, and then moved his
new family to Manitoba to pursue his doctorate in 1983.
1987, Lye won his position at Memorial.
Lye found one thing missing in St. Johns the relaxing
martial art of Tai Chi that he had picked up while living in
Manitoba. So, with his wife, Dr. Lye started a local chapter
of the non-profit charitable organization to teach the low-impact
exercise to members of the local
community. Since then, Taoist Tai Chi has spread to Conception
Bay South, Corner Brook, and Grand Falls, and boasts hundreds
hard to injure yourself doing Tai Chi, Dr. Lye explains.
Even people who are traditionally excluded from exercise
can do it.
in 1996, Dr. Lye got distracted.
upon an article in McLeans about the TETRA Society of North
America an international volunteer group whose goal is
to create or modify assistive-living devices for people with
disabilities Lye once again decided to pitch in.
I read this I thought wow, I dont think we have one
of these in Newfoundland. And I was sure I could round
up a whole bunch of volunteers here in the Faculty of Engineering
to do this stuff. Its an ideal place to have it.
1996, Dr. Lye has managed to recruit over 30 volunteers to the
group, which meets monthly. As TETRAs only Engineering
Faculty-based chapter, the group has completed more than 10 projects
to date and has another 10 or so ongoing.
make use of your own creative powers, Dr. Lye explained
of the groups appeal, and you are helping somebody
who is in great need. Most of them have already exhausted their
resources; their therapists cant help them or theyve
searched the world for a product that just isnt available.
Lye has also found time to excel on the local sports scene, winning
the provincial championship in mens doubles in the masters
category in 1993 (with partner Suraj Wadhawan of Newtel), and
coming in as runners up in the provincial open last fall. Suraj
was the Atlantic region champ in the 1970s, and hes in
the hall of fame, Lye clarifies modestly, so I dont
have to do that much.
of course, Dr. Lyes first love is teaching.
always loved teaching. When you work in industry, the person
you benefit is your boss, but when you teach, you benefit hundreds
at one time, year after year.
father to a girl who is going away to university this fall (Ill
finally get my car back!) and a boy whos in high
school, Dr. Lye laughs when asked how he enjoys parenting teenagers.
I dont! Everything I say is wrong. I dont know
the professor who also coaches junior high badminton and
basketball will admit that the experience lends him a
better understanding of his students.
settled in St. Johns for the foreseeable future, Dr. Lye
plans to stay here until retirement. Having lived in or
visited so many countries, I still feel that St. Johns
is the best place to live. You feel safe, theres no traffic
jams, and its easy to meet people.
when you want to start something, you just start it. People rally
who would like to get in touch with Dr. Lye about TETRA can call
him at 737-8933, email firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit the Web site tetra.engr.mun.ca.
Inquiries about Taoist Tai Chi can be directed to the society