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  • Matt Spencer

Kelvin Doe, Self-Taught Engineering Whiz From Sierra Leone

Updated: Apr 1


Kelvin Doe was 11 years old when he began gathering waste metal and electronic scraps, eventually gathering sufficient pieces in order to build his mini generators.  At the age of 13, he created batteries and generators using materials he picked up around his home and from rubbish bins which were used to light up homes in his neighborhood. It took numerous tries before Doe finally had a functioning prototype for the battery; a combination of soda, acid, and metal, wrapped together by tape.


In 2012 Doe patched together an amp, a mixer, and adequate apparatus to launch a one-young-man radio station which is broadcasted to the residents of the Dworzark Farm neighborhood of Freetown, Sierra Leone’s ramshackle capital. Also known as Dj Focus, he provides news and plays music to his surrounding community. The radio station is powered by a generator formed from a deteriorating voltage stabilizer, which he found in the trash, while a simple antenna allows his neighborhood to listen in. Doe believes that if one focuses, one can achieve any invention impeccably.

He admits to being a highly curious person and he wishes to become a scientist in order to aid and improve life throughout Sierra Leone. Doe expresses his genuine feelings about his hometown and country through simple and honest words ; “I love my country, and I love my people.” Doe’s meaning of success is completely unselfish; his present project which concentrates on constructing a windmill that will deliver power for some of his Freetown neighbours, and he hopes to become a scientist to help improve life throughout Sierra Leone.


Doe, now 16 and a completely self- taught engineer became the youngest individual in history to be invited to the “Visiting Practitioner’s Program” at MIT.  Innovate Salone which is a national high school innovation challenge held in Sierra Leone by an international institute called Global Minimum, was where MIT discovered Doe.  His talent and skills were acknowledged right away by Doctoral student David Sengeh.


Before attending Innovate Salone, Doe had never ventured more than 10 miles away from home. Through the help of MIT, he journeyed to New York for the 2012 World Maker Faire, where he sat on a “Meet the Young Makers” panel with 4 American discoverers.



Doe’s fame only promises to grow from here with which he will use all his knowledge to help his community. He says openly that everything he learns he will share with his friends, family, and community. 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.



Watch the Video from THNKR, which details Doe’s incredible story.

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