Kevin Doe, 16, from the African nation of Sierra Leone, has become the youngest techie ever invited to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT’s) “Visiting Practitioner’s Program” after he created batteries and a generator out of waste materials picked from dustbins.
Doe says he was obliged to depend on his own originality after realising that he could not afford to purchase the off-the-shelf batteries to power his home FM radio station project.
According to CNN’s What’s Next blog, Doe manages a community radio station in his home country from where he broadcasts news and plays music using the name “DJ Focus.”
“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 THNKR YouTube channel.
Doe built the battery from a combination of soda, acid and metal wrapped together using a tape, reports by The Huffington Post suggest.
He said he assembled “the acid, soda and metal in a tin cup, left the mixture to dry and then wrapped a tape around the cup to make his first battery.”
A number of trials afterwards followed to leading to his first functional prototype for the battery. Doe then embarked on the task of building a generator to power his radio station. He said he assembled a home-made generator using a half-broken down voltage stabiliser picked up from a dust bin.
Doe later used a motor, plug and other components to build the generator in his backyard and began supplying electricity to his home. Soon, he was supplying power to his radio station, equipped with a custom music mixer, a recycled CD player and an antenna that allows his neighbors tune in to his regular broadcasts.
The young technoprenuer has since expanded operation of his FM station employing his young friends, averagely 12 years old, as reporters.
Reports now indicate the young engineering prodigy has “wowed MIT experts”.
MIT discovered Doe during Innovate Salone, a national high school innovation challenge organised by an international group called Global Minimum.
With the help of David Sengeh, a Sierra Leonian doctoral student at MIT, Doe later made a trip to New York for the 2012 World Maker Faire, where he sat on a “Meet the Young Makers” panel with four American inventors.
Sengeh in a post says Doe was selected as a resident practitioner with the International Development Initiative at MIT, and later picked to be a guest presenter at the Harvard School of Engineering where he will receive training to gain more practical knowledge and skills.
“Whatever things I’ve learned here, I will share it with my friends, colleagues and loved ones,” Doe said.
According to Sengeh, while at the “Visiting Practitioner’s Program,” Doe pitched his inventions to undergraduate students at Harvard College and MIT before later meeting and intereacting with great tech visionaries including President Drew Faust of Harvard University and Nicholas Negroponte of MIT Media Lab.
“While Kelvin indeed has special talents, he is not the only young person in Sierra Leone ready to embrace opportunities like this. Since the launch of Innovate Salone, I have encountered young boys and girls who are pursuing their dreams.
ldquo;One girl has started boiling leaves because she wants to launch a fragrance company. Another young man, who has taken classes on MIT Open Courseware, is making huge strides in creating a robot in his house,” Sengeh said.
Sengeh further commented that Sierra Leone’s youth are capable of transforming their country if provided with resources and creative freedom.
“I understand that a basic set of tools and a supporting platform are needed to transform good ideas into projects that impact an entire community. Innovate Salone is hoping to make those tools and that support widely available,” he added.
A video showing Doe’s invention produced by @radical.media for THNKR YouTube channel has gone viral with over 1.5 million views.