Meet Kelvin Doe, the World’s Youngest Self-Taught Engineer

Creativity is universal, and can be found in places where one does not expect to find it. Perseverance and passion are essential to nurturing that creative ability. – Kelvin Doe

Kelvin Doe grew up in Freetown, Sierra Leone. At the age of 11, he started collecting scrap material on the way home from school. He discovered that with a little bit of tinkering he could make working parts from things that others had thrown out. Feeling inspired he’d go to bed at 7pm only to wake up in the middle of the night and tinker while the rest of his family slept. Watch a short documentary about his story below: 

The sweet sound of success

Kelvin successfully built his own music set-up including a 3-channel mixer, amplifier and microphone receiver. Electricity is scarce and unreliable in Sierra Leone, so he either powered the system with batteries that he restored from scrap, or from a battery he built himself. Kelvin even made a 12V generator out of old DVD players, which he used to keep his battery charged.

Finding a mentor

Kelvin met David Sengeh, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab Doctoral Student, at a summer innovation camp which David ran in Sierra Leone. The camp challenged students to think about issues facing their local community and come up with solutions. Kelvin believed a community radio station would enable everyone to communicate and share ideas in an unprecedented way. So he built and powered his own radio station. He would also DJ everyday under the name DJ Focus. Kelvin chose this name because he believes that if you focus, you can invent anything.

Using innovation to inspire a community

Kelvin became the youngest ever visiting practitioner at MIT. Over 14 million people have watched the video of his incredible story. It has inspired many to both think creatively about their problems and to nurture creativity in others. Kelvin has now returned to Sierra Leone where his mission is to inspire other young people to be technological innovators and help to improve their community.