Meet Kelvin Doe. A 16-year-old with no formal engineering training, Doe has built batteries and generators using trashed scrap metal and wiring. In his native Sierra Leone, he doubles as DJ Focus, where he broadcasts news and music via an RF transmitter he created.
At 14 years old, Doe visited MIT as part of the International Development Initiative’s Visiting Practitioners Program, which allows outside innovators to collaborate with Institute faculty and researchers. “People normally call me DJ Focus in my community. Because I believe if you focus, you can do an invention perfectly.”
The video above, produced by THNKR, chronicles Doe’s journey at MIT and has amassed close to 6 million views on YouTube. Mark Feldmeier ’96, SM ’03, PhD ’09, a research affiliate at the Media Lab, collaborated with Doe and is featured in the video.
Doe’s visit was arranged by Sierra Leone native and doctoral student David Sengeh SM ’12, who initially met Doe through the non-profit Innovate Salone. His U.S. travels included a trip to New York, where he spoke at the 2012 Maker Faire, and a visit with Harvard President Drew Faust.
Kelvin was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone in 1996 as the youngest of five children. His creative instincts have been with him as a child and he would often dream of solutions to problems in his community. At the age of 10, he started scavenging for scrap electronics parts from dump sites after school for his inventions.
Kelvin, together with his team, was a winner of Global Minimum’s Innovate Salone 2012 — the inaugural high school innovation challenge in Sierra Leone. Kelvin also officially became the youngest ever “visiting practitioner” with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) International Development Initiative. He has also lectured to undergraduate engineering students at Harvard College.
Kelvin gave a lecture at the 2013 edition of TedxTeen serries, on “Persistent Experimentation”