Kelvin Doe, self-taught engineering whiz from Sierra Leone, wows MIT experts
At the age of 13, a boy living in Sierra Leone created batteries and generators using materials he picked up around the house or from trash bins. Now, he’s wowing experts in the U.S.
Kelvin Doe, now 16, became the youngest person in history to be invited to the “Visiting Practitioner’s Program” at MIT, according to CNN.
Doe, a completely self-taught engineer, manages his own fully-staffed community radio station in Sierra Leone where he broadcasts news and plays music under the moniker ‘DJ Focus.’ The radion station is powered by a generator created from a deteriorating voltage stabilizer, which he found in the trash, while a simple antenna lets his neighborhood listen in.
"They call me DJ Focus because I believe if you focus, you can do an invention perfectly," Doe said in a video produced by @radical.media for their THNKR YouTube channel.
Among those inventions is a battery that he created to light up homes in his neighborhood.
"The lights will come on once in a week, and the rest of the month, dark," Doe told interviewers.
It took several attempts before Doe finally had a working prototype for the battery — a combination of soda, acid and metal, wrapped together by tape.
MIT discovered Doe during Innovate Salone, a national high school innovation challenge held in Sierra Leone by an international organization called Global Minimum. Doctoral student David Sengeh recognized his skills right away.
"It’s very inspirational," Sengeh said in the video. “He created a generator because he needed it.”
Before attending Innovate Salone this year, Doe had never been more than 10 miles from home. With Sengeh’s help, in September he journeyed to New York for the 2012 World Maker Faire, where he sat on a “Meet the Young Makers” panel with four American inventors.
Doe’s fame only promises to grow from here. Soon he will be a resident practitioner with the International Development Initiative at MIT and a guest presenter at Harvard School of Engineering, where he’ll gain even more practical knowledge to help his community.
"Whatever things I’ve learned here, I will share it with my friends, colleagues and loved ones," Doe said.
Watch the video above from THNKR, which, as part of a biweekly series on young prodigies, details Doe’s incredible story.