Self-taught engineer, 15, from Sierra Leone wows MIT

Nadine Bells
Good News

Kelvin Doe, 15, recently flew from his home in Sierra Leone, Africa, to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to participate in MIT's prestigious "Visiting Practitioner's Program."

He is the youngest person to ever participate in the program, BostInno reports.

The teen prodigy and self-taught engineer, wowed MIT researchers with his homemade batteries — he found off-the-shelf batteries too expensive for his inventions, CNN reports.

"We have not too much electricity," Doe says in the THNKR video. "The lights will come on once in a week and the rest of the month, dark. So, I made my own battery to power lights in people's houses."

Doe even started his own radio station, complete with a self-made FM transmitter, so that his community has access to local news.

Doe hopes to soon build a windmill to help boost electricity supply in his area.

In March of this year, Doe participated in Innovate Salone, a national high-school innovation challenge in Sierra Leone launched by MIT doctoral student David Sengah. At the time, Doe had yet to venture beyond a 10-mile radius of his home. Since then, he attended the 2012 World Maker Faire in New York, where his presentation of his inventions earned him a prestigious invitation to MIT Media Lab's "Visiting Practitioner's Program."

The Huffington Post reports that Doe will soon be a resident practitioner with the International Development Team at MIT — and a guest presenter at Harvard.

"Whatever things I've learned here, I will share it with my friends, colleagues and loved ones," Doe said of the invitation to MIT.

"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. 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," Sengah wrote for CNN.