theGrio’s 100: Kelvin Doe, ‘Whiz Kid’ from Sierra Leone

Kelvin Doe (Photo: Paula Aguilera /MIT Media Lab)

Kelvin Doe (Photo: Paula Aguilera /MIT Media Lab)

Who is Kelvin Doe?

Kelvin Doe, often called “The Whiz Kid,” is a 16-year-old self-taught inventor and engineer from Sierra Leone.

He has created batteries and generators from scrap parts in his community to help provide electricity for his family and friends.  Doe built his first battery at the age of 13, and has since developed a local FM radio station, which runs off homemade radio transmitter and generator.

The whiz kid explained his influence for making the radio station, “if we have a radio station in my community, the people can be able to debate about issues affecting our community and Sierra Leone as a whole.”

“People normally call me DJ Focus in my community because I believe if you focus you can do invention perfectly,” he said in a video that profiled him, produced by @radical.media for the THNKR YouTube channel.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=XOLOLrUBRBY

Why is he on theGrio’s 100?

During the summer of 2012, Doe became the youngest person ever to attend the “Visiting Practitioner’s Program” at MIT.  David Monina Sengeh, a graduate student MIT Media Lab, noticed the ‘Whiz Kid’ while running his annual summer innovation camp in Sierra Leone.  Doe won the camp’s Innovate Salone Challenge, a contest in which young people are encouraged to think of ways to solve problems in their communities.

Sengeh played a vital role in bringing Doe to the U.S. “It’s very inspirational,” Sengeh said in the YouTube video.  “He created a generator because he needed it.”

While at MIT, Doe had full access to their resources, and free range to research anything he wanted in their labs.

What’s next for Doe?

This year Doe will be a resident practitioner with the International Development Initiative at MIT and a guest presenter at Harvard School of Engineering.  The whiz kid also shared his plans to design a windmill in his community to help generate electricity.