Following on from Doja’s ‘Do You Have to be an Engineer to be an Engineer’, I thought it would be a good idea to look into a few stories of people that have engineered solutions to problems without necessarily having an engineering degree. The creation of accredited engineering courses has ensured that we have the highest standard of engineers working within the industry. However, I do not believe that what you can achieve is (and should be) limited to the type of degree you’ve completed nor do I believe it to be the deciding factor for who you are and can be. If you have a solution, do you wait until you have the required degree to solve that problem? If you have the means and desire to educate yourself now, do you wait until you’re old enough (or can afford to) go to university to do so?
Are you still an engineer if you have no plans to use your engineering degree?
Kelvin Doe (DJ Focus)
“Creativity is universal and can be found in places where one does not expect to find it. And perseverance and passionare essential to nurturing that creative ability” – Kelvin Doe
Kelvin Doe (now 16) is the youngest of 5 children and was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Raised single-handedly by his mother, life wasn’t always easy for him and his family, but her resilience and self-belief ensured that none of them lived in suffering. From an early age, Kelvin was extremely creative and was a fan of taking electronics apart to see how they worked. For years, he had dreamt of creating solutions to many of his community’s problems, but could never afford to do so. From the age of 11, Kelvin felt that enough was enough and began collecting scrap electronic parts from trash yards on the way home from school. He was at times found building inventions in the early hours of the morning.
Armed with his creativity and his newly found resources, Kelvin (by the age of 14) built an amp, a mixer, a mini generator and an FM radio transmitter to launch his own radio station. Under the name DJ Focus, Kelvin became the voice of his community and his inventions helped to empower the youth. He didn’t stop there however. With Sierra Leone’s constant power failures, Kelvin Doe was desperate to find a way to light up people’s homes. He created home-made batteries to power his community’s lights. He now has further plans to build a windmill to help power the homes of his Freetown neighbours.
“It was tough and hard. I spent many frustrating nights trying and failing, but nevertheless, I persevered until I completed the project” – Kelvin Doe on making his own radio station
Kelvin’s amazing story caught the attention of David Sengeh (founder of Global Minimum inc.), who flew him to MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) to present his inventions to students and participated in hands-on research at MIT Media Lab. Kelvin Doe officially became MIT’s youngest visiting practitioner. He has also given lectures to undergraduate engineering students at Harvard College and presented at TEDxTeen 2013. He has long term aims to become a scientist so that he can improve the lives of his fellow Sierra Leoneans.